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The Average Annual Salary for Mechanical Engineers

by Mark Applegate

Mechanical engineers perform a range of functions, from designing machines to creating plans to generate energy. Engineers evaluate and assist building plans, solve environmental crises and fix a host of other problems to make life easier. Due to the substantial education and intellect necessary to become an engineer, these professionals typically earn high pay.

Overview

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that in 2012, the 252,540 mechanical engineers surveyed averaged $40.75 per hour, or $84,770 in yearly salary. Most engineers work full time, and many work well in excess of 40 hours per week, depending on project deadlines. Engineering firm or government employees typically receive a full suite of benefits, including health insurance, a pension and sick leave.

Geographic Influences

Engineers tend to make higher salaries in the Southwest and the East Coast, although several states exceed the average national salary for these professionals. In 2012, the highest average salary was in Alaska, with an average income of $103,840. Of the more populous states, California led the pack in mechanical engineer compensation; its 23,900 engineers averaged $94,420 yearly. Texas employers, with 17,250 of these skilled laborers, paid an average salary of $92,470 for their work annually. In lower-wage states, such as Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas and Nebraska, these workers still made between $56,270 and $75,350. .

Experience and Education

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a trade group that designs and approves engineering standards, states that experience and education matter in terms of engineering compensation. Industry surveys suggest that entry-level engineers with less than one year of experience average $55,000, while a seasoned professional with 25 years' or more experience averaged $127,800. The same group estimates that those possessing only a bachelor's degree averaged $85,900 yearly, while those with master's or doctoral degrees averaged $95,576 and $116,000, respectively.

Other Considerations

Despite recent advances, gender has a role in engineer salaries. The median salary for men is $96,000, while women only earn $76,984. Choose your industry wisely if you seek the best pay as an engineer. The BLS estimates that the oil and gas extraction group earned the highest salary, at $128,650, while the pipeline transportation of crude oil group came in a close second, with $110,150. The largest group of engineers, the architectural, engineering and related services group, still averaged $89,760 among its 54,770 members.

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