Back to Blog Mechanical Engineering Salaries with a Master’s Degree Blog Share Share on FacebookFollow us on LinkedInShare on PinterestShare via Email It is often said that mechanical engineers “help make the world go round.” In fact, one of humankind’s greatest inventions — the wheel and axle — is perhaps the most notable example of how essential mechanical engineering is to our way of life. Roll the calendar forward to today, and a mechanical engineer would more likely be focused on designing omnidirectional wheels for next-generation robotics. Sometimes described as the study of objects and systems in motion, mechanical engineering is a discipline that applies principles of engineering, physics, mathematics and materials science to designing, analyzing, manufacturing and maintaining mechanical systems. The work of mechanical engineers affects a wide array of industries that stretch from manufacturing and health care all the way to space exploration. Not surprisingly, those who are employed in this fascinating and vitally important field are typically well-compensated to reflect their expertise, experience, training and hard work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median annual salary for mechanical engineers at $87,370. The BLS report on median salary for mechanical engineers also includes data indicating that the highest 10 percent earned more than $136,550. U.S. News & World Report ranks mechanical engineer as No. 41 on its list of 100 Best Jobs (and No. 3 in Best Engineering Jobs) with an unemployment rate of just 1.6% and a median salary of $85,880. Read on for detailed insight into the salary outlook for mechanical engineers and how a master’s degree affects mechanical engineering salaries, in addition to salary insights by industry and by geographical location. Master’s in Mechanical Engineering [Salary Outlook] A bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level mechanical engineering positions, however those seeking to advance in the profession typically find it beneficial or even essential to earn their master’s degree in mechanical engineering. As in most professions, one key factor in determining whether to invest in earning an advanced degree involves a calculation on whether the degree will pay for itself over time through higher pay. “A master’s degree is increasingly required to advance into higher-paying supervisory and management roles,” according to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). “It sharpens your technical skills and can establish you as an expert in a hot field, such as additive manufacturing and 3D printing.” In fact, item No. 1 on ASME’s list of “7 Ways to Make More Money as a Mechanical Engineer” is: Earn a master’s degree. According to a Work.Chron.com report on salary expectations for a mechanical engineer with a master’s degree, “Going to school for an extra couple of years to get a master’s degree will pay off and get you around a 20 percent higher salary than a mechanical engineer with a bachelor’s degree.” In addition to the estimated 20 percent salary differential, the Work.Chron report also charts a typical career salary progression for someone advancing from entry-level bachelor’s degree holder to experienced master’s-educated mechanical engineer. 0-1 years: $61,300 2-5 years: $65,000 5-10 years: $78,000 10-20 years: $99,000 20+ years: $100,000 Master’s in Mechanical Engineering [Top Employers & Salary By Industry] Skilled, well-educated mechanical engineers are in demand across a wide spectrum of industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the following mean salaries for mechanical engineers by industry: Software Publishers — $127,540 Oil and Gas Extraction — $122,140 Electronic and Precision Equipment Repair and Maintenance — $113,390 Waste Treatment and Disposal — $112,570 Pipeline Transportation of Crude Oil — $110,170 Scientific Research and Development Services — $102,080 Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) — $98,490 Architectural, Engineering and Related Services — $96,920 Household Appliance Manufacturing — $88,870 Engine, Turbine and Power Transmission Equipment Manufacturing — $87,830 Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing — $85,980 Machinery Manufacturing — $81,720 A recent search of Indeed.com for job posts paying $90,000-plus for mechanical engineers includes the following employers: Google Amazon Facebook Raytheon Booz Allen Hamilton Thermo Fisher Scientific Northrup Grumman Boeing Phillips 66 Bose Corp. Fitbit IBM Corning Microsoft Twitter Honeywell Lockheed Martin General Dynamics Corvid Technologies Los Alamos National Laboratory U.S. Department of the Army U.S. Department of the Navy U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Department of Homeland Security Master’s in Mechanical Engineering [Salary Data By Geographic Location] Skilled mechanical engineers are needed throughout the country. According to U.S News & World Report, these are the top-paying states for the mechanical engineering profession: Alaska: $132,100 District of Columbia: $110,910 New Mexico: $108,990 Texas: $106,020 Maryland: $104,250 Drilling down further, the report also lists the following best-paying cities for mechanical engineers: Anchorage, Alaska: $146,770 San Jose, California: $125,940 San Francisco, California: $121,150 Tuscaloosa, Alabama: $119,410 Taunton, Massachusetts: $119,110 Albuquerque, N.M.: $115,040 Houston, Texas: $113,4980 Washington, D.C., area: $113,380 Master’s in Mechanical Engineering [Additional Compensation Data] A report from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers offers a closer look at “total primary compensation” for MEs, with figures that include salary, bonuses, commissions and self-employment income. For 2017, the median total primary compensation climbed to $124,650. ASME also reports that mechanical engineers with less than two years of experience earned a median primary income of $72,400. But add 20 years of experience and the number jumps to $146,350. The survey of 822 ASME members also included the following figures by industry and geography: Industry: Mechanical engineers with nuclear and civil academic training earned the highest median income at $152,227 and $150,000 respectively. Geography: The highest median primary incomes were reported in the New England and Pacific divisions, at $139,000 and $139,480, respectively. The survey’s sampling of highest and lowest median incomes by city included the following: Los Angeles: $195,500 New Orleans: $172,500 Oakland, Calif.: $170,000 Boston: $151,000 New York City $118,000 Philadelphia: $98,250 Boulder, Colo.: $98,000 Cleveland: $92,650 ASME, established in 1880, also includes on its website biographies of key pioneers in the field of mechanical engineering, such as: Thomas Edison Johannes Gutenberg George Westinghouse Eli Whitney John Deere Kate Gleason Lillian Moller Gilbreth Herbert Hoover Leonardo Da Vinci Options for Earning Your Master’s in Mechanical Engineering For mechanical engineers interested in earning your master’s degree to sharpen your skills and increase your earning potential, online graduate degree programs are an increasingly popular option. For example, the University of Cincinnati’s online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree program features a robust, industry-focused curriculum as well as flexible scheduling designed to help students balance the demands of work, academics and family life. For more information about how a master’s degree in mechanical engineering can help you achieve your career goals, contact a University of Cincinnati enrollment advisor.