Integrator Salary Results 2014

By Brian Rhodes, Published Aug 13, 2014, 12:00am EDT

IPVM has determined how much sales people, senior technicians, and entry level technicians are earning in our 2014 Integrator Salary Survey.

Key highlights include:

  • Good: Technicians can expect their earnings to grow 127% as they progress from entry level to senior staff.
  • Bad: Entry level technicians make very little money.
  • Worst: Even senior engineers are out earned by their sales counterparts by 46%
  • Though this survey covers the United States and Canada, even within these countries the cost of living and expected salaries can vary greatly.

    For example, Brian is from Oklahoma City and John is from New York City. John has to earn 50% to 100% more than Brian to have the same effective income / cover fundamental costs.

    When using this guide, adjust expectations up or down depending on the cost of living of one's region.

    Breakdown by Position

    The chart below details how each integrator reported typical salaries for key business functions:

    Sales People

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    For many integrators, those with the highest compensated positions are in sales, with the average earning ~$110,00 in total compensation.

    • "Fully experienced will earn a base salary of approximately $65K per year plus commissions that could place him or her well into the six figure range.
    • "$75K Base plus Commissions equalling $50k-$200K"
    • "Sales Person (AKA "Account Manager") earn $55-75k base plus 5% Commissions on Gross Profit."
    • "Some are $50K/year base with higher commissions, others are in the $70-80K/year range with more of bonuses in lieu of commissions.

    Base Salary vs. Commission

    Most integrators structure salesmen salaries to include a commission element that pays them a percentage of project sales on top of a fixed base amount. Integrators peg this base salary at ~$50,000 with the balance coming from earned percentages of sold work.

    • "In my experience, sales people that are compensated solely on commission tend to ignore the small sale from a repeat customer. They want to hunt Elephants . With Base + Commission you have their undivided attention and all sales matter because they have less pressure."
    • "Base of $75k to $90k. Commission for a successful sales person should be another $90k per year."
    • "$50k - $140k total compensation per year, excluding benefits."
    • "US $25,000 - $50,000 Base US $40,000 - +$200,000."
    • "Commissions can add another $100,000 at the high end of the scale."

    Other Incentives

    Other integrators provides other forms of compensation, including tools, vehicles, or other perks: 

    • "Base v commission v benefits v perks (company car vs mileage, etc) are too hard to nail down from one place to another though."
    • "Sales people receive a base of $450.00 week + company vehicle & phone + 5% of gross profit Two of our sales people made over 100 K last year."
    • "$60K base with car, phone and laptop. 10% commission on net profit."
    • "$500 - $900 week, plus car allowance and up to 8% commission."

    Usually these 'other incentives' are offered to executives and salesmen, but usually not to less that senior technician positions.

    Large Companies Pay Better

    Another interesting theme is that sales people employed by national, big market integrators tend to have bigger earnings, both in terms of commissions but also larger base salaries:

    • "I worked in a large Tyco office with several salesmen making well over $200,000 per year commission."
    • "Top end earners in our office can make $185,000+ a year."
    • "I do not know about everyone else - but me $48K Base + about 2-4% Commission"
    • "[At my national integrator] It is $50-80K Base, with Unlimited Comp Opportunity in Commission or Incentive"

    Senior Technicians & Engineers

    So what do the average engineers and best installers make? About $75,000 per year according to their feedback. 

    • "This term is misused a lot in our industry. An Engineer can be anyone from a CAD tech to a Sr. Solutions Designer. Includes Sales Applications Engineers, Integration Engineers and licensed Engineers. A very broad range of job functions all of which are used in this industry. Range: $32K to $125K+."
    • "Senior Techs/Engineers make $70K - $90K Annual"
    • "$30-35 per hour depending on industry or manufacturer certifications and experience."
    • "$75-$85k annually for engineers."
    • "Senior Tech in Houston, Texas market: $26/hr - $35/hr with truck, smart phone, and laptop.

    Large Companies Separate Positions

    Especially with larger companies, this position make be broken out into two different responsibilities. Several integrators noted this, with senior technicians typically earning an hourly wage while engineers are salaried and typically earn more:

    • "Engineers design, diagnose, and fix problems. Technicians just fix what the engineers tell them to do."
    • ""Senior Techs - $38 - $42 Hr, while Engineers 75K - $100K Annual"
    • "Senior Technician $ 25 to $35 per hour, with Engineers making $80k to $110k per year"
    • "$45k-$60k depending on what kind of technician they are. $50-70k depending on what kind of engineer and actual qualification they have."
    • "Senior techs average $48,000 to $52,000 year + Bonuses Engineers average $ 65,000 year + Bonuses"

    Entry Level Technicians

    For those workers just starting out, many find themselves in the most basic positions integrators have to offer. As entry level techs, the work is inglorious and dirty with pay typically around $33,000 per year according to our responses:

    • "In our area, entry level is in the $11-14 per hour range, depending upon the work and educational background of the applicant. If someone has had some basic electronics or electrical training, but no real experience in our work, it may allow us to pay on the higher range if the background indicates reduced training time.
    • "$30K year, about $15/hr. For this you get what is sometimes called, a Cub. Someone that wants to learn and follows a Sr. Tech around and does what he/she is told.
    • "$15\hr. for the first 6 months ... $17.50\hr. for the next 6 months after that ... $20\hr. after the 1st year of experience. From there it just depends on initiative and ability to progress to the next level."

    For those who excel, however, entry level technicians can use the position to become experience in multiple areas of an integration company, with many jumping up to become senior techs, engineers, and sales people.

    How Do You Earn More?

    We asked "If a person wants to make the most money at an integrator, what would you advise them to do?" The four most common insights they shared were:

    • Become a Salesperson
    • Start Your Own Company
    • Work for National Providers
    • Learn All You Can, Always

    We examine each recommendation in detail below.

    #1: Become a Salesperson

    We asked "If a person wants to make the most money at an integrator, what would you advise them to do?" The single most common suggestion from all was "Become a sales person":

    • "Make the most money without regard to job longevity? Follow the Gordon Gecko model: sell whatever the customer wants hard and fast. Elephant hunt but don't step on the small sales, those folks may be testing your waters. Sell, sell, sell. Let someone else worry about the details. Lastly, be looking for your next landing pad. You are a rocket to the starts." 
    • "Sales, Under the right circumstances it gives the greatest possibility of a high income if all your are concerned with is making money."
    • "Sales People - ABC and sell more if you want to make more."
    • "Sales lead to better opportunities, but not all people have that skill.
    • "My advice? Go into sales. The good ones do very well for themselves."

    #2: Start Your Own Company

    Another common suggestion for the ambitious is to simply start their own integration company and work very hard at making it a success:

    • "Own the company. Seriously, most small integrators are notoriously cheap to remain competitive. Technicians and engineers are never paid close to what they are worth."
    • "Start their own company, work for free for several years while constantly stressing over cash flow & making terrible hiring decisions. With a little luck, and a ton of hard work, they'll be doing pretty well after a few years. "
    • "Once you have enough experience, run your own company. It does take many hours though."

    #3: Work for National Providers

    Several integrators mentioned that national service companies, with bigger accounts and more prospects can yield higher paychecks:

    • "Another avenue is to go into upper management (VP level or higher) at a national integrator, but that comes with its own set of headaches."
    • "The big names in this industry can afford to pay better."
    • "I think the legacy "big" integrators probably have sales compensation plans that will probably net people the biggest income potential, but I would never be happy working with a company like that."

    #4: Learn All You Can, Always

    Finally, multiple responses declared ignorance a big barrier to earning more, and those who commit themselves to study and learning all they can about the business and products they sell stand to increase their paychecks:

    • "Educate themselves. One of our people went from helper to an engineer in 5 years by studying every thing in sight and taking every class he could find."
    • "Learn and know how works everything in detail."
    • "Actually learn how to do things efficiently and what equipment works best."
    • "Learn everything they can and learn to sell as they install. Also don't be afraid to get dirty and show initiative."

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