Mechanical Engineers: Salary Overview
Mechanical engineers design tools, engines, machines, and other devices.
Their job description typically includes analyzing problems, designing, and redesigning mechanical devices and subsystems.
They are also responsible for diagnosing problems by investigating equipment failures.
Before starting the manufacturing process, mechanical engineers develop and test prototypes of the devices they design and analyze the test results to determine if the design needs any changes.
Nowadays mechanical engineers often use computer technology to create designs and to run simulations in order to determine how the product will behave in a specific environment.
Depending on their field of expertise there are several types of mechanical engineers, such as auto research engineers, robotic engineers, and heating and cooling systems engineers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage reported by mechanical engineers was $88,430 in May of 2019, which means that half of all workers in this profession earned less than this amount while half earned more.
Salaries vary depending on the region of employment, the industry, experience, and education level- among other factors.
The lowest 10 percent reportedly made less than $57,130 per year while the highest 10 percent made more than $138,020.
Mechanical Engineer Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mechanical engineers held 316,300 jobs in the United States in May of 2019, most of them working in the field of architectural, engineering, and related services, for manufacturers of machinery, or for manufacturers of computer and electronic products.
The average annual wage reported by mechanical engineers in the field of architectural, engineering and related services was $97,460 while those who were employed by manufacturers of machinery made $85,620 per year on average.
The mean annual wage was $105,340 for mechanical engineers in research and $104,160 for those who worked for manufacturers of aerospace products and parts.
The average annual wage reported by mechanical engineers who worked for the federal executive branch was $98,960.
According to BLS, the highest paying industry for mechanical engineers was the field of waste treatment and disposal where the average annual wage for this profession was $123,100.
A close second is the field of oil and gas extraction.
Mechanical engineers in this sector reportedly earned $122,830 annually.
Mechanical engineers also hold jobs in the field of other transportation equipment manufacturing, engine, turbine, and power transmission manufacturing, household appliances manufacturing, and petroleum, and coal products manufacturing.
Those who worked for petroleum and coal products manufacturers earned $110,900 per year while mechanical engineers who worked for manufacturers of household appliances made $86,330 per year on average.
However, there are many other factors that influence the salary earned by mechanical engineers.
Although a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering is usually enough for entry-level employment, holding a master’s degree and/or a Professional Engineer license can help improve your earning prospects.
Some colleges and universities offer 5 or 6-year programs that allow students to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
A Professional Engineer license can be earned by mechanical engineers who have a few years of experience in the field after passing two exams.
This credential gives mechanical engineers more independence and qualifies them for supervisory positions- which are usually better paid.
Education requirements also vary depending on the field of employment.
For example, those who want an academic career will also need a Ph. D.
Some research positions may also require a doctoral degree.
Bonuses, Commissions, and Other Benefits
In order to motivate their employees, many companies offer salary packages that also include bonuses, commissions, and a share of the company profit, in addition to the fixed-wage.
According to payscale.com, some mechanical engineers earn up to $10,000 per year in bonuses, up to $10,000 in profit sharing, and up to $31,000 in commissions.
These numbers vary depending on the industry of employment, the company’s profit but also the worker’s skill level and role within the organizations.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Mechanical Engineers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.