Every year, a stream of mechanical engineers graduate from their bachelor’s degree and do their best to get a job that would pay them the highest mechanical engineer salary. The reason is clear – mechanical engineering is one of the most in-demand engineering disciplines and in highly in demand within several industries in all countries around the world.
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In addition to that, it is one of the highest paid fields. The more training a mechanical engineer takes up, the more he or she can expect their annual salary to go up. And the more skilled a mechanical engineer is, the more he or she can negotiate their pay.
Now if you only finished a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, does it mean you have less chance of getting hired? Definitely not, some companies accept engineers with bachelor’s degrees more often than those who have achieved higher academic levels. There are also other businesses that require their engineers to have a Ph.D. at least.
Before I talk about the top three jobs for highest Mechanical Engineer salary, you must first understand and review what is expected of you once you get hired into a company and how to develop your skills so that your career path takes you to the highest levels. To make things easier, I’ve listed down some of the most typical duties and responsibilities that many companies expect their Mechanical Engineers to be performing every single workday.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineers are expected to know and execute research, build and test mechanical devices and tools, design and develop, and understand how systems and machines work.
As a researcher, a mechanical engineer analyzes issues relating to mechanical devices and thermal tools among other research duties. He is also the one responsible for making sure these tools and devices work to complete projects on time and produce acceptable results.
A Mechanical Engineer also acts as a process engineer, for example, taking care of the manufacturing processes for many of the company’s products, which could include engines parts or medical devices. They are also responsible for designing the parts and components that are to be manufactured.
Mechanical Engineers can start a career in almost every industry out there, from making elevators and escalators work to designing systems that dispense ice-cream, to creating parts that are used in a space shuttle. They are quite computer savvy and can even get involved in control systems programming and software-based solutions. But regarding salaries, the highest mechanical engineer salary was reported to be $128,430 in 2015. The lowest starting salary for a recently graduated young mechanical engineer in the same year was $53,640.
Mechanical Engineers can wear different hats. Some can become Systems or Engineering Managers. Others can become Senior Designers or Drafters. Some others would choose to become Materials Engineers, Mathematicians, Mechanical Technicians, and Natural Sciences Managers to name a few.
If you are looking at how much you can get paid from companies who hire Mechanical Engineering positions, here are some data I’ve gathered for you based on non-managerial positions in the U.S.
The Top 3 Highest Mechanical Engineer Salary are:
1. Mechanical Design Engineer
The primary roles and responsibilities of a Mechanical Design Engineer include researching, testing, designing, manufacturing, and developing machines, engines, and tools or devices. A Mechanical Design Engineer plays a major role in the production process because he or she takes charge of the machines used to run the project smoothly and to its optimum level.
In other aspects, a Mechanical Design Engineer can be considered a process or project manager. He or she looks after the company’s resources, including its workforce and equipment suppliers. He may also be tasked with managing company budgets as well as maintaining materials and keeping design specifications up to date.
If you are good at drafting parts and designing equipment layouts, then you are fit to be one of the Mechanical Design Engineers paid well.
In the US, the highest mechanical design engineer salary is $93,000.
2. Senior Mechanical Engineer
A Senior Mechanical Engineer works in close cooperation with the upper management. He collaborates with the Business Development department, the Engineering department, and the Operations, Quality Control and Manufacturing department. Depending on the company needs, a Senior Mechanical Engineer may be responsible for many aspects of project management.
The primary roles and responsibilities of a Senior Mechanical Engineer are to ensure that all regulations and procedures in the workplace, including environmental, safety and security policies, are adhered to by everyone, including himself and his direct reports. He is to be the adviser who makes recommendations when there is a need for human resources. That means he is an active participant in the recruitment and hiring of new employees.
Aside from his role in the human resources department, he is also in charge of investigating and procuring information that is needed for design and development. He is to be ready to troubleshoot when system failures or project failures are experienced in the management. He works with lots of data, gathers tons of information and can analyze and interpret new machine or system data in real-time as it’s acquired.
As a project manager, the Senior Mechanical Engineer is responsible for making sure all projects are done according to plan and within the time allotted. He also serves as the coordinator and consultant to other team members for better design and development outcomes.
Overall, the Senior Mechanical Engineer is a project leader and coordinator between team members and the upper management. According to data from 2016, the Highest Senior Mechanical Engineer salary, which includes salary, bonus, and profit sharing, goes up to $133,000.
3. Senior Mechanical Process Engineer
To become a Senior Mechanical Process Engineer, you must first hold a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical or Chemical Engineering. Some companies require 10+ years of experience while others accept less experienced engineers and will provide them adequate training and chances to develop their engineering skills.
As a Senior Mechanical Process Engineer, the chosen candidate must perform the role of a project manager for medium side projects as well as large-scale ones. A Senior Mechanical Process Engineer is to conduct business as a project engineer, too, in critical projects. He is expected to prepare and evaluate design sheets, technical specifications, 2D & 3D drawings, and even technical and financial reports.
The Senior Mechanical Process Engineer is also tasked with overseeing project bids and supplier proposals as well as making sure field and market investigations are delivered accurately. He is responsible of managing studies and detailed reports.
The roles and responsibilities of a Senior Mechanical Process Engineer vary from one company to another, but the highest mechanical engineer salary for such positions went up to $137,631 as of 2016 data.
These are my top three jobs that pay good money for Mechanical Engineers. There are other positions as well, but these three are your basic career guide to getting an idea of what companies want their engineers to be doing and what results they expect these mechanical engineers to generate.
If you are serious at getting a job in line with your Mechanical Engineering degree, you must understand how the majority of the employers act these days towards applications. Read on to learn more.
Becoming a Mechanical Engineer
1. The first step is to get a degree from a college or university. This is a minimum requirement for entry-level positions in this industry. You can enroll in a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering directly or not. Some students first register two years of pre-engineering degree and then work as interns or as drafters. When they can, they go back to school to finish the Bachelor’s Degree.
2. Of course, like any other professional career, graduating is not enough to keep you going. In the Mechanical Engineering field, you must be licensed as an engineer before you can take on new design projects (New Product Design or New Product Introduction). Accreditation and licensing vary from country to country. In the United States, though, you are required to pass the FE or the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. You also must apply for a PE license separately; it is not included in your exam.
3. Get certified. This is different from getting licensed. A license is compulsory while a certification is not. And though the certification is optional, it does show your future employers that you are competent and committed.
So these are the three major steps you should take in your career if you want to enter the Mechanical Engineering industry and one day earn the highest mechanical engineering salary.
About The Contributing Author:
Nader Mowlaee is an Electronics Engineer, Engineering Career Coach & Life Coach who's inspired by Motivating Confidence in Engineers and helping them reach their career goals. Reach out and connect with him on Linkedin or Facebook if you are a Mechanical Engineer and want a better understanding of how to choose the right career path so you can experience more fulfillment, success, and one day soon have the highest mechanical engineer salary.