Students with an eye on high salaries may consider majoring in an engineering field, as graduates from engineering programs earn some of the highest starting salaries in any field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook. Although mechanical engineers' starting salaries are about average for the field, graduates still may expect to enjoy higher paychecks than many of their classmates.
Average Starting Salary
Entry-level salaries for mechanical engineers who enter the job market from an accredited engineering program are well above those for most college graduates. First-year mechanical engineers earn an average annual salary of $58,766 as of July 2009. Michigan Technical University reported its 2010 mechanical engineering graduates received average job offers of $58,881. Graduates from the most prestigious programs in the country may expect to receive higher salary offers when they enter the job market.
Average Experienced Salary
Mechanical engineers aren't faced with a cap on their salary shortly after graduation, and may expect increases in their earning potential as they gain more experience. The median annual salary for a mechanical engineer is $84,241 as of January 2011, according to Salary.com. Half of all mechanical engineers earn between $76,186 and $92,480. Mechanical engineers who earn salaries in this range have four to six years of experience and don't serve in a managerial capacity.
Comparison to Engineering Starting Salaries
Mechanical engineers' entry-level salaries are in the middle for all engineers who graduate for all disciplines. Petroleum engineers earn much higher salaries -- averaging $83,121 as of July 2009, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook -- though their entry-level salaries are atypical for the major. Chemical, mining, computer, nuclear and electrical engineers all tend to receive higher first-year salaries than mechanical engineers, ranging from $60,125 to $64,902. Mechanical engineering graduates usually receive higher offers than industrial, agricultural, civil, aerospace and materials engineers.
Salaries Around the Country
The region in which a student graduates from college or the area in which he finds a position may impact his earnings, as mechanical engineers' salaries vary widely throughout the nation. Those who work in Houston earn the highest average annual salary, $111,018 as of January 2011, according to Salary Expert. Those who work in Miami earn some of the smallest average salaries in the country, $74,475.
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