One of the most frequently asked questions that I get is about engineering salaries. For example:
- What’s a good salary for an engineer?
- How does a mechanical engineering salary compare to an electrical engineering salary?
- Should I ask my employer for more money?
- How much more money could I make if I had a Masters degree in engineering?
- Is my employer screwing me?
To me, these are very interesting questions. Beyond that, I think they’re important questions to ask. Your career is (typically) your main source of income. If you thought of yourself as a business, the revenue you earn under “Engineering Activities” would make up most, if not all of what you make. Given that, it’s important to know where you stand among your peers with respect to your income. You should know whether or not you’re earning a fair wage for the work you do and the experience you have.
I should point out that I’m not someone who’s obsessed with his income. I think there’s a lot more to a career and a work situation than just a salary. Despite this, I still think salary is an important element in a person’s career, and I think it’s important to know your worth in a given market.
So, with that, I decided it would be interesting to conduct a study of different engineering salaries around the world. Today, I want to share what I’ve learned about mechanical engineering salaries.
My Mechanical Engineering Salary Study
The first discipline I decided to study was mechanical engineering. At first, I started gathering data on a dozen different disciplines, but that got out of hand pretty quick. So I decided to start with mechanical engineering.
I should point out that my study isn’t exactly “scientific”, but I think it’ll be educational nonetheless. I wanted to look at how mechanical engineering salaries varied among engineers at different education levels, different experience levels, and living in different cities around the world. I also wanted to look at the spread between the bottom quartile, middle quartile, and top quartile for each segment. I felt this would give a good spread of information and would hopefully provide some useful insights for you.
To gather the data, I created “what if” profiles in payscale.com. I use this tool whenever I want to evaluate a job offer, a raise, or if I’m applying to a job to know what to expect for a salary.
To summarize, here’ s what I looked at:
I was interested in the difference having a masters degree in engineering might make for someone’s salary, so for each city and each experience level, I compared:
- Bachelor’s degree in engineering, versus
- Master’s degree in engineering
Most of the folks who read this blog are in the first half of their careers, so I looked at three different experience levels that are all young professional-esque. Specifically
- 0 years (i.e. new graduate)
- 5 years
- 10 years
For this, I looked at where E&L.com readers come from, and chose the top 6 most popular cities.
- New York City, USA
- Toronto, Canada
- London, UK
- Bangalore, India
- Sydney, Australia
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So, let’s dive in, shall we? Here’s how things played out.
Mechanical Engineering Salaries for New York City, USA
Mechanical Engineering Salaries for London, UK
Mechanical Engineering Salaries for Toronto, Canada
Mechanical Engineering Salaries for Bangalore, India
Mechanical Engineering Salaries for Singapore
Mechanical Engineering Salaries for Sydney, Australia
Worldwide Mechanical Engineering Salaries at 5 Years Experience with a Bachelor’s Degree
Worldwide Mechanical Engineering Salaries at 5 Years Experience with a Master’s Degree
Having laid all this out, there are a couple of observations that jump out at me that I wanted to share.
A Master’s degree doesn’t look like it has that much value. That being said, looks can be deceiving. In most cases, having a Master’s degree will net you a couple thousand dollars more per year. Over a couple of years, this money really adds up, and can make a master’s degree a sound financial decision. When you add on top of that the fact that people with Master’s degrees likely have an easier time of finding work in the first place, it’s probably a worthy investment.
It looks like New York and Sydney are the best places to work. Maybe. You can’t jump to conclusions though. You also have to take into account the cost of living. Even though the average salaries in Bangalore are very low, it would be that the cost of living is also much much lower. This would require additional investigation to sort out.
Experience pays. In every case, the average salaries went up as engineers gathered more experience. This is sensible. I was interested to see if having a Master’s would short circuit this a bit, but it doesn’t look that way.
No matter where you work, there’s a huge spread between the top earners and the bottom. This was one of the most interesting findings to me. In each city, the bottom 25% and top 25% were separated by a significant margin – sometimes as much as a 50% difference. This tells me that it might be worthwhile shopping around hard for good work in order to find the best employer.
Well, this was fun! I really enjoyed putting this together. Now, I need your help. I’d love for you to share this report with your friends. Also, please leave a comment below to let me know what you think, and to give me some ideas on what I can do to improve this report, and which discipline I should cover next.
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