Choosing marine engineering as a career path comes with its perks. The field is in demand and is expected to grow by 12 percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
If you're planning to be a marine engineer, you can look forward to high earnings, too. In fact, marine engineering ranks as one of the 10 highest paid engineering majors in the U.S. Moreover, the BLS reports that the top 10 percent of marine engineers made as much as $148,950 in May 2018.
While a marine engineering career offers job security and lucrative career, a marine engineer salary may look different depending on where you work. So, it's important to have an idea of what impacts your salary as a marine engineer.
It's also essential to have insights into what marine engineering salaries look like in the state you plan to work, especially if you're negotiating your salary. Here are some important factors to consider.
What impacts your marine engineering salary?
From your experience to your education, several factors can impact how much you earn as a marine engineer. If you want to start a career as a marine engineer, then you will likely need a bachelor's degree.
The BLS reports that most aspiring marine engineers and naval architects obtain this level of education to enter the field. However, your career path may bring about more opportunities if you become licensed. For instance, if you want to work in senior officer roles for the U.S. Coast Guard or pursue higher leadership levels for a commercial ship, then you'll likely need a professional license, such as a Professional Engineer (PE) license. Some requirements to obtain a PE license include earning an ABET-accredited degree and passing the PE exam.
Becoming a licensed engineer also means you usually need four or more years of experience. With a license, you get access to higher-paying positions. For instance, Paysa notes that principal marine engineer salaries earn between $137,806 to $216,486 per year.
The industry you work in may also impact your earnings as a marine engineer. Data from the BLS notes that some of the highest-paid marine engineers and naval architects in the United States work for the federal government and made an average of $101,720 in May 2018.
Moreover, the data shows that marine engineers and naval architects working in the transportation and warehousing ($94,600) and the engineering services ($93,000) industries made above the national median annual salary in 2018.
The company you work for may also make a difference in how much you may expect. According to Paysa, some of the top marine engineering salaries come from companies like OSG Ship ($151,000), Mason Construction ($130,000) and BG Group ($128,000).
But one of the most important factors that may impact your salary as a marine engineer is your location. For example, PayScale notes that marine engineers in Houston, Texas earn salaries 34 percent higher than the national average compared to those based in New York City, who make 24 percent below the national average. So, it's important to consider where you work if you're looking to earn higher wages.
How much do entry-level marine engineers make?
If you're just starting out your career as a marine engineer, your pay is generally less than those with more experience. For instance, data from PayScale reports that the average total compensation package for entry-level marine engineers is $61,800 per year.
On the other hand, Paysa reports higher average earnings for junior marine engineers at $74,108 per year. However, it's important to note that your marine engineering salary for an entry-level position may look different from state to state.
For instance, ZipRecruiter reports that entry-level marine engineers in Newport News, Virginia make an average of $44,776 per year while entry-level marine engineers based in Fort Worth, Texas, earn an average annual income of $45,140.
What are the various career paths for a Marine Engineer?
Marine engineers have a variety of choices when it comes to their career paths. PayScale notes that marine engineers often go on to become mechanical engineers, port engineers, or maintenance technicians.
Each career path varies when it comes to your pay. For instance, PayScale highlights that mechanical engineers make an average of $69,694. However, this is much less than the average pay for port engineers who make $90,589 per year.
Yet, marine engineers who become maintenance technicians risk earning lower salaries as PayScale reports with these roles, you earn an average of $44,650 per year.
How much can you make From Marine Engineering jobs?
According to the BLS, at least half of U.S.-based marine engineers and naval architects made an average salary of $92,560 in May 2018. But some states outrank others for marine engineering jobs that pay high earnings.
For instance, while most marine engineers worked in Virginia and earned an average annual salary of $91,480 per year in 2018, marine engineers working in the District of Columbia (D.C.) ($118,090) and Washington ($91,670) earned more per year. Some of the top-earning states for marine engineers include California ($126,140), New York ($120,860), Alaska ($116,100) and Maryland ($114,010).
Moreover, some metropolitan areas pay higher wages for marine engineers. For instance, the BLS' data reports that marine engineers working in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas metro area earned $92,550 per year on average in May 2018. Marine engineers in the New Orleans-Metairie, Louisiana metro area earned even more at $120,200 per year. However, this annual mean wage differs significantly for marine engineers working in the Urban Honolulu, Hawaii, metropolitan area. These engineers made an average mean wage of $79,310 in 2018.
With so many differences in wages based on location, it's ideal to look at how wages look state by state. Take a look at what marine engineering jobs earned in 2018 across the country, based on available data from the BLS:
While starting a career as a marine engineer offers exciting and lucrative opportunities, it's important to know what to expect from your salary based on the location of your preference.
Consider your financial needs, your skills, and what other marine engineers are making in your state. By having this insight, you can negotiate your salary with confidence.