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Jeff Waters June 2, 1999 19:34

CFD salaries
Hi, Wanted to take a quick survey: How much can a CFD analyst expect to earn in Industry based on any combination of the following criterea (Hi /Average/Low)?

(BS/MS) (Experience: Hi/Medium/Low)

Thanks, Jeff W

Stacey Rock June 3, 1999 16:38

Re: CFD salaries

I think the title CFD Analyst may be too specific. Purdue Univ. has a very good database for all engineering salaries by field, degree, experience, etc. Check out:

I would expect engineers with extensive CFD experience to fair better than most, perhaps top 25% of salaries. Hope this helps.

Good Luck, Stacey

Jeff Waters June 3, 1999 17:02

Re: CFD salaries

Thanks for the website. Interesting data.

I posted my original data here to get salary info specific to the CFD field. I suspect location and experience play the biggest factors-- but, for instance, can a BSME with 2 years of CFD experience make $75k in New England at a job where he/she performs CFD for other companies and/or works for a software company.

Thanks, Jeff W

John C. Chien June 3, 1999 18:05

Re: CFD salaries
(1). Anything is possible in this country. (2). On the average, no. A special case, possible. (3). A good commercial CFD code requires 5 to 10 years of continuous development and refinement. Most of them have PhD degrees. For a BSME with 2 years of CFD experience to be able to make good contribution is questionable. ( can't even read most CFD journal papers). (4). But, like Bill Gates, anything's possible, if he works day and night.

anonymous cfd June 4, 1999 09:32

Re: CFD sala
I imagine salary is performance based... a good user of a commercial code should not have to reinvent the wheel and develop his own code. Through experimentation in the laboratory and comparision studies with a 'commercial' code, we are getting acceptable solutions even without being able to read... ( can't even read most CFD journal papers).

Our flow problems are relatively simple, and design times do not always allow time for a paper to be written on the development of the code. However; like Bill Gates, egos are rampant in this day and age.

Good luck Jeff ...

John C. Chien June 4, 1999 11:07

Re: CFD sala
(1). Sure!, if the service provided and results obtained are acceptable to the customer ( or the boss), it shouldn't matter whether a CFD code was used or how it was used. So, the first priority is whether your customer is satisfied or not. (2). But the existence of this forum simply implies that a visible portion of the users and customers is not satisfied with CFD codes, whether it is commercial or home-made. (3). CFD is not like the Chinese fast food. It probably shouldn't take four thousand years to get there. But, even the Chinese food, there is a big difference in quality, depending upon whether it is in a big city or a small town. With higher competition, higher demand for quality, I would say, Chinese food in a big city would taste better on the average. (4). We definitely would like to know the name of the Chinese restaurant or the name of the CFD code, if it tastes so good and also acceptable to the customer. (5). And if one can bring in millions of dollars of business to the company, he is probably not going to be asked to run the CFD code at all. (6). The know-how is for survival, not for every-day use. Unfortunately, the CFD code is available on the " as-is" basis. So, it is important to stay within the limit of the code. Don't even upgrade the version of the code, if the code is producing good results. (7). There was a PBS program on TV a couple of days ago, the conclusion for a long life was " keep exercising your brain and body!". My suggestion is : " If you are interested in living longer, writing your CFD code would definitely help " And if you live longer, you will be able to make more money. And if you have a new idea, you will have the opportunity to make a quik money. So, don't let your brain idling all the time !!!

Stacey Rock June 4, 1999 12:39

Re: CFD salaries

We all agree that salaries are highly dependent on many factors. I don't have any direct experience about the job market in New England, but I do have friends working throughout the South East and South West. Based on my experience the Purdue statistics are a good average.

To answer your question, I would expect a BSME with 2 years experience to make about $40K to $45K. I would consider this an average. A salary of $75K is more in line with someone with 10+ years experience. Of course, some people are more fortunate than others. Also, the cost of living is high in parts of New England, maybe 30-40% above national average. As a result, $45K might equate to $60K. The Center for Mobility Resources has a web site that will allow you to adjust this salary based on cost of living for different areas.

Another point, the several places I've worked required an MS degree at minimum for a position with CFD. However, this may be changing as CFD becomes more widely accepted.

Perhaps someone else can give you the specifics for New England. However, most people are reluctant to discuss salaries. No one wants to find out they're making less than their peers. This factor sometimes leads to exaggerated claims and salary expectations.

I hope this helps.


Patrick Godon June 4, 1999 13:29

A few more numbers
I just want to add a few more numbers to give you a better statistic of salaries:

For a PhD with no experience in the Industry, but with (say) a research experience as a postdoc, the starting salary can ranges between 50K and 100K.

If the company is big and the work is busyness related (e.g. interaction with clients, etc..) then you look at the big number.

If the company is small and the work is related to research (developping codes, implementing them, new techniques,..) then you are closer to the small number. That is about what you expect in the academia for a starting assistant professor.

And this is for the East Coast, say region of Boston or so.

I hope this helps. Cheers, PG.

Jeff Waters June 4, 1999 15:08

Re: CFD codes
John, I appreciate your candor. 99% of the time, I passively read this forum. It definitely leans towards the CFD code developer/researcher, so most of the discussions are deeper than my current level. I'd like to point out, though, that the ultimate goal for a code developer (who wishes to make a business of it) is to create a code that can be easily run by a fluid dynamics layperson-- maybe even a non-degreed designer. There are obviously dangers in blindly accepting results from any computer program, but with experience (and verification experiments) the "end user" should be able to gain some level of trust for the CFD code.

As for the Chinese food analogy: I think you and the other talented researchers and developers here are some of the best cooks in the world. You are also experts in the production of quality woks and cooking utensils. You understand every facet of raising the animals and vegitables that will eventually end up in your culinary creations. You create the recipes and processes that allow people to buy your delicious concoctions.

You have a much better understanding of Chinese food than the guy who just buys the ingredients, pots, and utensils at the store, uses a recipe, and makes a decent dish: but that doesn't mean he can't be a great cook.

Thanks, Jeff W

John C. Chien June 4, 1999 16:47

Re: CFD codes
(1). I agree with you. (2). But a good chef is always hard to find, a formal training is always required. It will take even longer without formal training. (3). For the code development goal, I am not sure that the goal is to produce a code which can be easily used by a designer. Based on my experience, engineers have been using CFD codes for many years, and designers have also been trying to use CFD codes for many years. But the results up to now is not encouraging. (4). I think, anyone can learn how to use a computer, and anyone can also learn how to use a CFD code. And I am sure that a CFD code can also be developed and packaged in such a way that it can produce good and reliable results by any person, by just selecting some input data and options. The limitation is that the problem to be solved must be simple and has reliable solution. Does such problem exist? (5). If flow in a bend tube is three-dimensional, and if the flow over a ball is transient three dimensional, then such simple problem simply don't exist at all. (6). Flow over a flat plate is the simplest form of flow problem. But for flow over a step ( a backward facing step), the method to obtain a reliable and accurate solution is not well defined. You get different solutions based on different turbulence models, and when you change the numerical algorithm, the solutions also change. (7). I have seen a PhD with several years of experience in turbomachinery, designed a new radial turbine with high efficiency using various codes (CFD codes), but was unable to get the engine started when the design was used in testing. (8). My knowledge about the fluid dynamics is very limited, and my experience with CFD solution is also very limited. And I have just discovered some errors in the code I am using which change the conclusion completely by the previous users of the code. It happens frequently, but I hope that you are lucky one without such troubles. (9). When I write, even when using the word like "you", I am just sharing my experience with the monitor screen. So, don't try to store it in the permanent disk space in your brain. The CFD forum is just a place where I can exercise my brain and try to print out some garbage left over there long time ago. (10). Anyone using CFD should receive special award because they are brave enough to take on a very difficult subject. (11). When you read the forum, try to decode the message and steal the useful information hidden behind. After you have done that, simply forget about it. (12). Someday, when most of CFD problems are solved, there will be code available for everybody.

clifford bradford June 4, 1999 18:15

Re: CFD salaries
none of you are answering the man's question. he simply wants to know what kind of money people in the cfd business make. since all of you are probably in the cfd business just say what your degree is, how much experience you have, (maybe what kind of company you work for) and how much money you make. that's it!!

Jeff Waters June 4, 1999 19:04

Re: CFD codes
John, Good points all!

When I say that the ultimate goal is to create a product that even a designer can use, I am by no means saying that has happened. I do believe such a program will exist in the future, though. Maybe not even for a long time. It's the holy grail of the "virtual wind-tunnel".

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Jeff W

Jeff Waters June 4, 1999 19:07

Re: CFD salaries
Yep... that's what I had in mind. -Jeff W

John C. Chien June 4, 1999 22:21

Re: CFD salaries
(1) I think you can use Purdue University's data mentioned by Stacey Rock as a reliable guide. (2).Top 25% salaries is also a good range in the chart for CFD engineer, based on my previous experience. This should satisfy your curiosity.

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