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On average, a mechanical engineer earns around $83,600 per year. Mechanical engineering graduates usually start at about $53,640 or higher, depending on their activity field and location.

Within one of the broadest engineering subfields, mechanical engineers research, develop, design, build, and test various mechanical devices for an abundance of industries – actually, few fields do not make use of a mechanical engineer one way or another. The fruits of their labor can be found throughout our daily life, as mechanical engineers work with electric generators, internal combustion engines, refrigerators, air conditioners, elevators, and much more.

open engine with visible assembly parts

How Much Do Mechanical Engineers Make?

According to May 2015 records from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual mechanical engineer salary is $83,590. In other words, the 277,500 mechanical engineers in the United States earn a mean hourly wage of $42.40. The bottom ten percent professionals earn an annual salary of $ $53,640, while the top ten percent brings home a six-figure average salary of $128,430 each year.

However, significant variations emerge when talking about different industries and states. Experience also plays a role in determining the salary. Another important factor that influences how much money an engineer brings home is their sex – but we’ll talk about this a bit later in the article. For now, let’s see how sectors of activity and location influence an engineer’s salary.
an infographic on how much do mechanical engineers make

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 How Much Do Mechanical Engineers Make by State?

Given the advancement of oil and gas extraction, Alaska offers the best salaries for mechanical engineers among all U.S. states. Here, experts earn a mean wage of $62.70 per hour which translates to $130,420 per year, on average. Graduates who find a job in this field in Alaska or mechanical engineers working in other industries start at $78,810 or less, but the best paid 10% of Alaska’s mechanical engineers can earn up to $160,000.

The second best state to work in as a mechanical engineer is New Mexico, even though at a great distance from Alaska – more than $12 an hour. Here, every hour a mechanical engineer spends on the clock brings him $50.23 on average, which means an annual mean wage of $104,470. The bottom 10% earn $74,700 or less, but engineers from the 10% from the opposite pole take home up to $145,000 per year.

Next in line is Texas, with an hourly mean wage of $49.15 which adds up to $102,230 per year on average. Those new to employment can earn $58,050 or less, but experienced mechanical engineers can earn as much as $160,000.

As for states that should be avoided by mechanical engineers who dream of wealth and prosperity, here is where the worst-paying mechanical engineering jobs can be found:

South Dakota reimburses its almost 600 mechanical engineers with an hourly mean wage of $34.07, which translates to almost $71,000 per year on average. Even though experienced mechanical engineers can earn close to $100,000 per year, graduates receive $51,820 or less in their first few years.

With a 90¢ extra hourly wage and almost $73,000 per year on average, Wisconsin is the second worst paying state for mechanical engineers. The bottom 10% earns $48,540 or less per year, while the top 10% can surpass $100,000.

Kansas is also close, with just 67¢ over the hourly mean wage of Wisconsin. The yearly mean wage of mechanical engineers working in Kansas is $74,320, over $9,000 lower than the national average.

Area nameNumber of JobsHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean WageBottom 10% WageTop 10% Wage
New Mexico1,020$50.23$104,470$74,700$144,890
Rhode Island1,030$44.51$92,580$56,970$128,070
New Jersey5,820$43.92$91,360$56,680$131,670
South Carolina5,040$42.94$89,310$50,980$128,960
New Hampshire1,620$42.19$87,750$57,230$123,160
New York10,860$41.27$85,840$54,140$124,630
North Carolina6,490$39.74$82,670$53,130$118,280
West Virginia360$39.22$81,580$47,440$117,580
North Dakota500$36.03$74,950$41,580$114,630
South Dakota510$34.07$70,860$51,820$95,550

Data courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Much Do Mechanical Engineers Make by Industry?

The most rewarding field for mechanical engineers is oil and gas extraction, with a mean hourly wage of $70.55 and an average annual salary of $146,740. Starting with $71,240 or less, a mechanical engineer that works in this industry can get close to $200,000 per year if they have extensive experience and get promoted to a management position.

an oil platform in U.S.A waters, near Alaska

Mechanical engineers also thrive in electronic and precision equipment repair & maintenance. A mean hourly wage of $57.69 leads to a $120,000 average yearly income for those who have enough patience and concentration capacity. A technical studies graduate with a diploma in mechanical engineering can start at around $59,040 per year, while his experienced colleague takes home more than $150,000.

Another field that values and properly remunerates its mechanical engineers is waste treatment and disposal. Although this branch was featured on Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs”, engineers rarely need to leave their office or work in unsanitary conditions. The mean hourly wage is $52.48, which translates to $109,170 per year on average. The worst paid 10% mechanical engineers earn around $73,000, while the best 10% mechanical engineers in this field receive about $144,000 per year.

But being a mechanical engineer does not guarantee a six-figures salary. The worst-paying employers a mechanical engineer can stumble upon are state or local government owned institutions.

Among these, local government owned hospitals win hands down. With a mean hourly wage of $22.97 and a $47,780 average yearly salary, a mechanical engineer might earn as much as $62,330 after years of experience. However, they generally start at around $34,820 or less.

Educational institutions are next in line but offer about $7 more per hour – which add up to $62,460 per year on average. Graduates start at $40,060 or less, but their mentors can earn over $94,030 per year.

Being a Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineers are the second-largest engineering profession. They are commonly employed in engineering related services, research and development in engineering science, manufacturing industries, aerospace parts manufacturing, and branches of the federal government. Computer knowledge is a must for a successful mechanical engineer.

Work Environment

Mechanical engineers typically work in professional office environments, but some may need to travel to work sites. Others may be found in testing laboratories, automotive parts manufacturing, and management positions. The vast majority work full-time, with some mechanical engineers working over 60 hours each week.

Even though graduation records show women have better grades and rates, mechanical engineering is a field dominated by male employees; Only 7.2% of mechanical engineers are women.

Job Prospects for Mechanical Engineers

Employment for mechanical engineers is expected to grow by 2024 about as fast as other fields, at a rate of 5% – which means 14,600 more jobs will be created in the next 8 years. However, this depends on the industry of employment; Architectural engineering and technology grow faster than average. Those interested in the career will find the best job prospects with training in the latest software tools and nanotechnology.


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