You'll need a unique blend of math, mechanical skills and creative skills to become a successful mechanical engineer, who designs and oversees the production of mechanical devices for manufacturing products or facilitating various procedures. Combine this with a zeal for being behind some of the world's newest technologies and you can earn a fair profit in return. The top 10 percent of mechanical engineers earned over $119,950 annually, according to May 2011 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Average Salary & Benefits
Average pay for mechanical engineers isn't too shabby either. They earned $83,550 per year, according to the BLS. Your pay would likely fall in the $63,470 and $98,580 range, which is what the middle half made. Experience, geographical area and industry are some of the major determinants of salary. Expect to work full time in this profession, sometimes putting in 60-hour work weeks. In return, your employer will likely provide benefits like major medical, life insurance, paid holidays and vacations and a retirement plan.
Salary by Industry
A penchant for working in the oil and gas industry would yield the highest returns. These folks made an average of over $108,520 per year. An added benefit to working in the oil and gas industry is the excitement of helping to find new and more efficient energy sources. Would you like working with bakery products? If so, bakery and tortilla manufacturers paid the second highest incomes of $103,880 annually on average. Salaries are also comparatively high in motor vehicle manufacturing and working for the federal government: $95,080 and $92,190 per year, respectively.
Salary by Region
Expand your job search to Alaska and you can make the highest income as a mechanical engineer. These professionals banked an average of $102,860 per year, according to the BLS. Annual salaries in California and Michigan were also above the national average at $93,250 and $86,590, respectively. But you'd earn somewhat less in Pennsylvania and Indiana at $79,300 and $74,350 per year.
Your most direct route to becoming a mechanical engineer is to get a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. An alternative is to study three years at a liberal arts school, followed by two years straight of core engineering classes. Whatever the case, your education will be both theoretical and practical. The practical side includes typical internships that are part of the discipline. With this type of curriculum, you'll be ready to make huge societal contributions on your first day of work, which is one of the intangible benefits of becoming a mechanical engineer.
2016 Salary Information for Mechanical Engineers
Mechanical engineers earned a median annual salary of $84,190 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, mechanical engineers earned a 25th percentile salary of $67,070, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $106,420, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 288,800 people were employed in the U.S. as mechanical engineers.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Mechanical Engineers Do
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011: Mechanical Engineers
- StateUniversity.com: Mechanical Engineer Job Description, Career as a Mechanical Engineer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
- CareerPlanner.com: Mechanical Engineer
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Mechanical Engineers
- Career Trend: Mechanical Engineers
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images