Mechanical engineers invent and improve upon designs for different products, machinery, and equipment. They work in dozens of different industries, from toy companies to consumer electronics firms to industrial manufacturing plants. Many different factors can affect a mechanical engineer salary, including the extent of the engineer's education, his or her licenses and certifications, and the length of time he or she has been with a company. Further, a mechanical engineer salary often depends on the complexity of work duties and any specialized skills that workers possess.
Most entry-level mechanical engineers hold bachelor's degrees in the field. As with most other jobs, new workers typically receive lower base salaries than those who have been employed for longer periods of time. After a worker is able to prove his or her competence for the job and earns the right to take on more responsibilities, salary generally increases. Many mechanical engineers choose to pursue advanced engineering degrees, which require at least two additional years of college. A master's degree can provide more job opportunities that pay higher wages, such as independent researching positions.
The type of licensing and specialized certification a professional obtains can also influence his or her mechanical engineer salary. In most countries, even entry-level engineers are required to pass written licensing exams that test their proficiency. An individual can choose to pursue additional licenses and certification in specialties, such as electrical systems engineering, by taking exams offered by private organizations. Obtaining specialized certification shows employers that a professional has expert knowledge and is probably ready to take on additional responsibilities.
An accomplished, licensed mechanical engineer may be given the chance to become a lead engineer or supervisor at a facility. Supervisors organize research projects and oversee the work performed by other professionals. They are usually responsible for maintaining budgets and deadlines, keeping employees on task, and reviewing finished projects. With the promotion to a supervisory position, an employee is usually rewarded with a higher mechanical engineer salary. Some successful engineers are eventually able to obtain executive positions within a company, which allows them to not only receive higher wages but also to make important decisions regarding the goals of the firm.
A strong knowledge of computers and electronics is often reflected in a mechanical engineer salary. Technological developments in computer science and robotics constantly change the working environment and expectations of engineers. Professionals who stay informed about the most up-to-date technologies and computer programs generally have more opportunities to obtain work and become supervisors. A mechanical engineer who is able to provide a wide range of technical skills usually enjoys the best wages.