The annual salary survey done by American Society for Quality (ASQ) is summarized in the December 2011 issue. And, the good news is a CRE certification provides approximately a $21k salary premium over those in similar positions without the certification. Based on Table 2. salary premiums for certification holders in the article, Land the Big One, indicated the largest premium is enjoyed by those working in reliability or safety positions and holding the CRE certification. See www.qualitypress.com for the article.
As you may suspect I watch for this survey each year and while the salary premium varies from year to year (depending on who responds to the survey), I have noticed that reliability engineers tend to do rather well, and having a certification seems to come with a salary premium.
The underlying question is related to the connection – do better reliability engineers seek the certification, or do employers pay more if one has the certification. I suspect that those that continue to learn and develop professionally are the better engineers and thus their performance earns more in terms of salary.
Professional development and the underlying curiosity to understand the broad range of topics within reliability engineering is probably the hallmark of skilled professionals. The CRE certification is an excellent marker of the mastery of the body of knowledge, yet it is also an indicator of someone who is willing to continue to learn and grow.
As you suspect, once you receive the CRE certification in the mail, frame and mount it on your office wall, your paycheck will not show the immediate impact of an extra $21k/year. Sorry. It does reflect that you are in excellent professional company.