10 Highest Paying Mechanical Engineering Jobs 2024 (Inc Salaries)

Mark Talmage-Rostron
June 20, 2024 · 13 min read

Discover the top 10 highest paying mechanical engineering jobs in 2024, including average salaries and job duties. Find the best opportunities in the field!

When it comes to vocations you probably couldn't get more high brow than mechanical engineering. Actually engineering full stop.

Mechanical engineers are tasked with designing a diverse array of machinery, ranging from power-producing equipment like electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines, to power-consuming systems such as refrigeration and air-conditioning units. Additionally, they are involved in crafting the inner workings of building infrastructure, including elevators and escalators.

They are mega important in society too as their work plays a crucial role in shaping the technology and infrastructure that drives our modern world. This is all points to the reason why mechanical engineers are paid so well. Consistently, engineers are positioned among the top earners in the United States, boasting some of the highest starting and mid-career salaries across professions.

In fact, the average mechanical engineer salary is $92,767 per year in the United States. So if you are thinking of starting a career as a civil engineer, senior mechanical engineer, biomechanical engineer, or project manager, and you have a bachelor's degree in engineering, or master's degree in mechanical engineering, what are you waiting for? Mechanical engineers work in a dynamic engineering industry and earn well at the highest paying companies.

Top 10 Highest Paying Mechanical Engineering Jobs 2024 (Inc Salaries)

1) Design Engineer

A design engineer is a professional who applies engineering principles, mathematical analysis, and scientific principles to develop, design, and improve products, systems, or processes.

They typically work across various industries such as mechanical, electrical, civil, aerospace, or software engineering, and play a crucial role in transforming ideas into tangible products or systems, contributing to advancements in technology, manufacturing, and various fields of engineering. They often work in multidisciplinary teams and must possess strong analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills to effectively bring projects from conception to fruition.

The average annual salary for a design engineer in the US is $85,581. and is thus one of the best entry-level positions in this field.

2) Processing Engineer

A Processing Engineer is a professional who specializes in the design, optimization, and management of manufacturing processes.

They work primarily in industries such as chemical, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and manufacturing, among others, and play a vital role in ensuring the efficient and cost-effective production of goods and materials. In order to become one you will need to acquire specialized skills as the role combines engineering principles, scientific knowledge, and practical experience to design and optimize processes that meet the needs of the industry while adhering to safety and environmental standards.

The average annual salary for a processing engineer in the US is $91,035 making it one of the best jobs in mechanical engineering.

3) Powertrain Engineer

A Powertrain Engineer is a specialized professional primarily focused on designing, developing, and optimizing the powertrain systems of vehicles, including automobiles, trucks, and other transportation vehicles.

Their expertise lies in the integration of components such as engines, transmissions, drivelines, and related systems to ensure optimal performance, efficiency, and durability and tend to work closely with cross-functional teams, including mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and software developers, to innovate and implement solutions that meet regulatory requirements while enhancing vehicle performance and fuel economy.

Typically powertrain engineers are responsible for conducting thorough analyses, simulations, and testing procedures to evaluate and refine powertrain designs, considering factors such as emissions, noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). If you plan to become one you'll need to stay abreast of emerging technologies, trends, and industry standards to drive continuous improvement and advancements in powertrain systems, contributing to the evolution of automotive engineering.

The average annual salary for a powertrain engineer in the US is $112,890 and as such is one of the highest average mechanical engineering jobs around.

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4) Biomedical Engineer

A biomedical engineer is a professional who applies principles of engineering, biology, and medicine to develop innovative solutions and technologies that improve healthcare outcomes. They work at the intersection of these disciplines, designing medical devices, diagnostic equipment, prosthetics, and healthcare software and collaborate closely with medical professionals, researchers, and manufacturers to identify needs and develop solutions that address clinical challenges.

If you're looking to become one you need to know that your responsibilities will include designing and testing medical devices, analyzing biological systems, and integrating technology into medical practice. Additionally, you'll have to contribute to advancements in areas such as tissue engineering, biomechanics, and medical imaging, with the ultimate goal of enhancing patient care, diagnosis, and treatment efficacy while adhering to safety and regulatory standards.

The average annual salary for a biomedical engineer in the US is $85,457 making it one of the best paying mechanical engineers in the united states.

5) Instrumentation Engineer

An instrumentation engineer specializes in the design, development, installation, calibration, and maintenance of instruments and control systems used in various industries such as manufacturing, aerospace, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications.

Their primary focus is on ensuring accurate measurement, monitoring, and control of physical variables such as temperature, pressure, flow, level, and composition within industrial processes and work with a wide range of devices, including sensors, transmitters, controllers, actuators, and data acquisition systems, to gather and analyze data crucial for process optimization, quality assurance, and safety.

If you become one, you'll play a vital role in integrating instrumentation and control systems into complex industrial processes, ensuring efficiency, reliability, and compliance with regulatory standards and collaborate with multidisciplinary teams, including electrical, mechanical, and software engineers, to design and implement integrated solutions that meet the specific needs of each industry and application.

The average annual salary for an instrumentation engineer in the US is $107,171 and is one of the highest average salaries for mechanical engineers.

6) Mechatronics Engineer

A mechatronics engineer is a versatile professional who integrates mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering principles to design, develop, and maintain complex systems and products. They specialise in combining elements of mechanics, electronics, robotics, and automation to create innovative solutions across various industries, including manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, and consumer electronics and are adept at designing electromechanical systems, such as robotic arms, automated manufacturing lines, and unmanned vehicles, that involve precise control and interaction between mechanical components and electronic sensors and actuators.

As a rule of thumb the role encompasses the entire lifecycle of a product or system, from conceptualization and design to prototyping, testing, and implementation which is why you'll need to possess a diverse skill set, including proficiency in programming languages, knowledge of control systems, and hands-on experience with mechanical design and fabrication techniques.

The average annual salary for a mechatronics engineer in the US is $105,000 making them one of the highest paying engineers in the united states.

7) Opto Mechanical Engineer

An opto mechanical engineer is a professional who specializes in the design, development, and integration of optical and mechanical systems. They possess a unique blend of skills in structural engineering, optical engineering and mechanical engineering and often work on projects involving precision instruments such as cameras, telescopes, laser systems, and imaging devices.

All in all their responsibilities may include designing optical components, optimizing mechanical structures for stability and precision, conducting performance testing, and troubleshooting issues related to the interaction between optical and mechanical systems. With a deep understanding of both disciplines, these engineers with an interesting title play a crucial role in bringing cutting-edge optical technologies to life.

The average annual salary for an opto mechanical engineer in the US is $145,645 and is one of the highest paying mechanical engineer jobs around.

8) Automation Engineer

An automation engineer is a professional responsible for designing, developing, and implementing automated systems and processes to streamline operations and increase efficiency across various industries. They utilize their expertise in mechanical, electrical, and software engineering to create automated solutions that optimize production lines, manufacturing processes, and other systems and their work involves analyzing existing processes, identifying areas for improvement, and designing automated solutions using technologies such as robotics, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), sensors, and computer systems.

Generally automation engineers play a vital role in modern industries by reducing human intervention, minimizing errors, improving safety, and ultimately enhancing productivity.

The average annual salary for an automation engineer in the US is $97,768 making it one of the highest-paying mechanical engineering jobs around.

9) Research and Development Engineer

A research and development engineer is a professional tasked with the exploration, creation, and implementation of new technologies, products, or processes within a specific industry or field.

They are responsible for conducting thorough research to identify areas for improvement or innovation, conceptualizing and designing prototypes or models, and testing these prototypes to ensure functionality and efficiency and collaborate closely with cross-functional teams, including scientists, designers, and technicians, to translate ideas into tangible solutions.

Generally the role of a research and development engineer involves analyzing data, staying abreast of technological advancements, and continuously refining and enhancing existing products or processes.

The average annual salary for a research and development engineer in the US is $104,150.

10) Corrosion Engineer

A corrosion engineer is a specialist in materials science and engineering who focuses on preventing, controlling, and mitigating the degradation of materials caused by corrosion. They play a crucial role across various industries such as oil and gas, aerospace, automotive, and infrastructure and analyze the environmental conditions and chemical processes that lead to corrosion, develop strategies to protect materials from degradation, and design corrosion-resistant materials and coatings.

Generally the responsibilities of a corrosion engineer often includes conducting inspections, performing corrosion testing, and implementing maintenance programs to ensure the integrity and longevity of structures, equipment, and components.

The average annual salary for a research and corrosion engineer in the US is $110,586. and is a really high salary in the mechanical engineering industry.


Conclusion

In conclusion, embarking on a career in mechanical engineering presents a multitude of compelling advantages and opportunities. As one of the oldest and most diverse branches of engineering, mechanical engineering offers individuals the chance to delve into a wide array of fascinating fields, from robotics and renewable energy to aerospace and automotive engineering. The profession not only fosters creativity and innovation but also provides the satisfaction of solving complex problems and contributing to tangible advancements that benefit society.

If you are looking to start a career as a mechanical engineer and you'd like to maximize your earning potential, a good place to start is with qualifications such as a BBA or an MBA from an internationally recognized university such as Nexford. By investing in your education, you're not just opening doors to promotions; you're unlocking opportunities for increased earning potential and long-term career growth.

If you are looking to learn more about the key hard and soft skills deemed necessary to succeed in the world of mechanical engineering, download our free report.


FAQs

What is the highest paying mechanical engineering job in 2024?

The experts may differ, and this comes with a massive caveat that the highest paid job in engineering requires a high standard of specialized skills, but all in all the data points to an opto mechanical engineer as being the highest paying mechanical engineering job in 2024 with those entering this field as expecting to earn an average salary of $145,645 in the US.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which mechanical engineering jobs are projected to have the highest level of growth?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics salary information, employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations. In fact, about 19,200 openings for mechanical engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

What is the best mechanical engineering career path in 2024?

Determining the "best" mechanical engineering career path in 2024 can depend on various factors including personal interests, market demands, and emerging technologies. However, the best mechanical engineering and technology career path for engineering professionals in 2024 seems to go the way of a R&D engineer who will get a job in many professional mechanical and manufacturing companies. Their role is ideal for graduates who enjoy exploring new ideas and working on proof of concept as part of a product development team.

It’s a highly creative role that involves detailed technical analysis and is also perfectly suited to graduates who have their sights on career progression as these engineers will be working at the heart of the design and innovation team, often under the guidance and mentorship of senior engineers who will be able to share their industry experience.

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What skills or expertise is required for high-paying mechanical engineering jobs?

High-paying mechanical engineering jobs often require a combination of technical skills, expertise, and soft skills. That said, there are some key areas of expertise typically sought after in high-paying mechanical engineering roles.

Mastery of core mechanical engineering principles including mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, and materials science is essential. Additionally, proficiency in computer-aided design (CAD) software such as AutoCAD, SolidWorks, or CATIA is often required.

Depending on the industry or sector, specialized knowledge in areas such as robotics, renewable energy systems, automotive engineering, aerospace engineering, or biomedical engineering may be necessary. Advanced degrees or certifications in these areas can enhance earning potential.

High-paying mechanical engineering positions often involve complex problem-solving tasks. Engineers must be able to analyze problems, develop innovative solutions, and troubleshoot issues efficiently.

Many high-paying mechanical engineering roles involve leading or contributing to large-scale projects. Proficiency in project management methodologies, budgeting, scheduling, and resource allocation is highly valued.

And proficiency in programming languages such as MATLAB, Python, or C++ can be advantageous, especially in roles involving automation, robotics, or data analysis.

What qualifications are required for high paying mechanical engineering jobs?

Qualifications required for high-paying mechanical engineering jobs typically include a combination of education, certifications, and relevant experience. That said, there area a few typical qualifications sought after in such positions.

A bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or a related field is usually the minimum educational requirement for entry-level mechanical engineering positions. Mechanical engineers need at least this degree as it provides a solid foundation in core engineering principles and technical skills.

While not always mandatory, advanced degrees such as a Master's or Ph.D. in mechanical engineering or a specialized area can significantly enhance career prospects and earning potential, especially for leadership roles or positions requiring specialized expertise.

In some jurisdictions, obtaining a Professional Engineering (PE) license is required for practicing as a professional engineer and signing off on engineering designs. While not always mandatory for all mechanical engineering positions, having a PE license can enhance credibility and open up opportunities for higher-paying roles, especially in fields like consulting or government contracting.

Depending on the industry or specialization, earning relevant certifications can be beneficial. For example, certifications from organizations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) or the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) can demonstrate expertise in specific areas such as pressure vessel design, automotive engineering, or aerospace engineering.

And proficiency in relevant technical skills such as computer-aided design (CAD) software, finite element analysis (FEA), computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and programming languages (e.g., MATLAB, Python) is essential for many high-paying mechanical engineering roles.

Why is it beneficial to gain a BBA/MBA degree to gain a career in mechanical engineering?

Gaining a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) or Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree alongside a degree in mechanical engineering can offer several benefits for individuals pursuing a career in this field.

Mechanical engineers with a BBA or MBA gain a deeper understanding of business principles, including finance, marketing, operations, and strategic management. This knowledge equips them with the skills needed to understand the broader context in which engineering projects operate, including budgeting, cost analysis, and market dynamics.

BBA/MBA programs often emphasize leadership and management training, which can be invaluable for mechanical engineers aspiring to advance into managerial or executive roles. These skills include team leadership, conflict resolution, decision-making, and strategic planning.

With a combination of engineering and business skills, individuals have the foundation to start their own engineering firms or venture into entrepreneurship. They can identify market opportunities, develop business plans, and effectively manage resources to bring innovative engineering solutions to market.

In today's interdisciplinary work environments, engineers often collaborate with professionals from various fields, including business, marketing, and finance. Mechanical engineers with a BBA/MBA can effectively communicate with and understand the perspectives of non-engineering stakeholders, facilitating smoother collaboration and project execution.

And holding a BBA/MBA degree can differentiate mechanical engineers from their peers and open up opportunities for career advancement. Employers may prefer candidates with a combination of technical and business skills for leadership positions, project management roles, or strategic planning roles within engineering firms or other organizations.


If you are looking to start a career as a mechanical engineer and you'd like to maximize your earning potential, a good place to start is with qualifications such as a BBA or an MBA from an internationally recognized university such as Nexford. By investing in your education, you're not just opening doors to promotions; you're unlocking opportunities for increased earning potential and long-term career growth.

About the author
Mark Talmage-Rostron
Mark Talmage-Rostron

Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.

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