A mechanical engineer applies engineering principles towards designing, development and testing of various mechanical components, equipments and machinery. His work involves engines, instruments, controls and robots; wherein he may be employed in fabrication, operation, application, installation and repair. While completely knowledgeable about standard practices, procedures and concepts; certain artistic capabilities and independent thinking are desirable of him.

In the year 2008 around 253,800 jobs were held by mechanical engineers. 3 out of 5 mechanical engineers were employed in the manufacturing sector mainly in transportation or electrical equipment, machinery, instruments and metal-products fabrication sector. The balance worked in the federal government, engineering, management and business services.

Employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all non-engineering occupations through 2012. With the steady growth in efficiency and complexity of industrial machinery and equipments, there will be no dearth of jobs for them in the manufacturing sector. Emerging technologies in IT, biotechnology, and nanotechnology will also continue to create new job opportunities for Mechanical Engineers. Then there will also be jobs wherein employees have quit or changed fields.

The U.S has the median annual income of mechanical engineers around $63,000.
As per surveys done in 2008 the average starting salary of a graduate mechanical engineer was estimated to be $58,420 annually; whereas that of a post-graduate mechanical engineer was around $64,710 and a new Ph.D.’s around $84,300.

The industries which employ the maximum mechanical engineers and the median annual earnings of the engineers therein are indicated below.
Manufacturing: $75,360
Motor vehicles and equipment: $70,130
Engineering and architectural services: $69,520
Federal government: $67,810
Construction and related machinery: $62,450

A 2007 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicates that mechanical engineering graduates witnessed one of the higher-end salary increases as compared to that of other engineering disciplines. Due to several offers made by aerospace manufacturers to mechanical engineers their average salary offer rose 5.7 percent to $54,695.

The median salaries for mechanical engineers as per the years of experience are given below:
Less than 1 year: $48,350 – $59,820
1 – 4 years: $50,927 – $64,331
5 – 9 years: $59,208 – $77,773
10 – 19 years: $63,623 – $90,236
More than 20 years: $70,623 – $104,613

Let us summarize with the following:

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