Mechanical Engineer Salary

Mechanical Engineering is one of the broadest fields in engineering. Mechanical engineers research, design, and test mechanical systems, products, and processes for nearly every major sector of the economy. They use their knowledge of physics, mathematics, and materials in conjunction with an array of learned skills including problem solving, communication skills, and computer-aided engineering to transform fundamental scientific knowledge into goods and services to benefit society.

Some of the most attractive benefits for mechanical engineers are the varied and diverse opportunities within the profession. Career paths can be found in consulting, academia, industry, government or military research, law, and management. Pay for mechanical engineers varies widely. As of May 2009, the middle 80% made between approximately $50,000 and $117,000, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Successful mechanical engineers obtain at minimum a degree from a four-year college or university, and in some cases may have a master’s degree or even a PhD.*

*According to the BLS,

Salary Overview

Many factors affect the salaries paid to mechanical engineers, including education, industry, experience, as well as unique skills or training. High-paying industries include aerospace, government research, and computer equipment manufacturing. As in most professions, advanced degrees translate directly into higher earnings. Research and development positions also tend to be compensated more highly than positions in manufacturing.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Median wage as of May 2009, the median wage was $77,020. Top earners can earn well into the six figures, with the top 10% of earners taking home more than $117,000. The bottom 10% earned less than $50,000. Government is actually the highest paying employer for mechanical engineers, with an average salary of $91,560. Entry level positions in the field are above most other occupations with an average of $58,766, according to a 2009 survey performed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.*

*According to the BLS,

Benefits typically include health insurance, dental insurance, vacation, 401k match or profit sharing, and sick leave. Bonuses may be available for development of patentable inventions or other achievements.

Job Description and Outlook

Mechanical engineers perform research, develop new products, maintain or improve existing products, design manufacturing processes, create and execute tests, and provide engineering services. Often job duties also include technical writing, supplier communication, project management, and even sales or customer service.

Demand for mechanical engineers is expected to be strong for the next decade, especially as the trend to outsource manufacturing to China is expected to slow from the pace during the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s, due to social and economic changes within China. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics cites growth to be 6% for the period of 2008 to 2018, just below the rate for all occupations. With increased demand and lower growth, wages should rise steadily.*

*According to the BLS,

Training and Education Requirements

To work as a mechanical engineer, one must earn at minimum a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year university within a mechanical engineering or similar program. Advanced degrees in engineering are not common, and traditionally are sought by those seeking research or academic positions. Engineers choosing a more managerial career path will often seek an M.B.A. as their careers transition from being technical to more strategic in nature. Once a degree has been obtained, training is typically for the purpose of developing a specific skill, for example, CAD software training.


Mechanical Engineers are not required to have any certifications to work; however, professional engineer licensure or registration may be required to offer public engineering services depending upon the state in which an engineer practices. In some states, the title of Professional Engineer is legally protected, and gives the engineer legal responsibility for his or her stamped engineering documents. The process to obtain a professional engineer’s license varies, but typically includes the following:

  • Completion of a four-year university engineering degree from an ABET accredited school
  • Passing the FE or Fundamentals of Engineering test, which qualifies a candidate as an EIT or Engineer in Training
  • Gaining two to five years of experience of mechanical engineering
  • Being recommended by one or more registered or licensed Professional Engineers
  • Passing the PE or Professional Engineer test

Those interested in learning more about how to become a Professional Engineer should contact the Board of Professional Engineers within the state he or she is seeking certification.

Professional Associations

As a broad discipline, mechanical engineering has many active professional associations and many of those pertain only to specific industries. These associations promote the field of mechanical engineering, set standards for process and design, and support their members through research and distribution of technical knowledge. The largest and most well-known professional mechanical engineering associations are IASME, the International Association of Mechanical Engineers, and ASME, the American Association of Mechanical Engineers. Other significant industry associations include SAE, the Society of Automotive Engineers, SME, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and NAPE, the National Association of Power Engineers.

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