PhD In Mechanical Engineering Salary

Last Updated on January 18, 2023

If you’re looking to get a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and need help finding out how much you will earn, you’ve come to the right place. Chances are if you are reading this, and want an advanced degree in Mechanical Engineering, money is probably one of your top motivations for doing so.

Mechanical engineers are capable of numerous roles in different industries. It’s an extremely broad field and it is for that reason that there are many advantages to pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. A PhD will look great on any resume and offer many opportunities you would not otherwise have access to. Here are the best benefits of obtaining a PhD in Mechanical Engineering.

average salary of a professional mechanical engineer

When you think about how much the average Mechanical Engineer makes, you probably think something along the lines of “a lot”. You’re right: Mechanical engineers are some of the highest paid people in the workforce. And if you have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, you are set to make even more money than less educated workers. So exactly where is your graduate school going to fall on this list?

When you think about how much the average Mechanical Engineer makes, you probably think something along the lines of “a lot”. You’re right: Mechanical engineers are some of the highest paid people in the workforce. And if you have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, you are set to make even more money than less educated workers. So exactly where is your graduate school going to fall on this list?

Career expert Marni Battista says a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering is worth approximately $79,000 to $84,000 per year. Battista offers several related salary figures in her article “The Salary Guide for Every Career,” which you can find on US News & World Report ‘s website  — the salary range for business doctoral graduates is from $77,460 to $86,666 but the median is far more accurate for a more realistic number.

Prospective PhD Students | Academics | Mechanical Engineering |  Northwestern Engineering

Is a PhD in Mechanical Engineering Worth It?

In the process of obtaining a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering, students will gain greater insight into fluid mechanics and dynamics, hydraulics and mechanism design. You’ll find a table below which showcases five careers that those with a doctorate tend to permeate

Becoming a mechanical engineer is often thought of as a path to higher salaries and greater happiness. And for the most part, it is true that mechanical engineers who go on to obtain Ph.D degrees can expect a significantly higher salary than those with only undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degrees in their field. However, salaries earned after receiving a doctorate differ based on several factors — preparation, location, industry and academia vs. business are all elements which come into play..

PhD in Mechanical Engineering Jobs/Salary

For those who choose to pursue a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, there will be a great amount of experience and education gained in the area of research and data analysis. These same individuals will have a better understanding of pneumatics and fluid mechanics and dynamics, and have taken classes in mathematical physics, advanced engineering and mathematical methods, allowing them to expand upon their career choices. In an ever-changing field, recent graduates will have hands-on experience with cutting-edge tools and technology, and be able to understand more complex mechanical and electrical systems. For those wishing to secure jobs in management or research, having a doctorate will put them ahead of others. For better understanding on the types of jobs you can expect with such a degree, there is a table below listing five potential careers and their job growth and salary information.

Job TitleMedian Salary (2019)*Job Growth (2019-2029)*
Industrial Production Managers$105,4801%
Research & Development Managers$98,294 (2020)**NA
Mechanical Engineers$88,4304%
Petroleum Engineers$137,7203%
Postsecondary Engineering Teachers$101,0109%

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’, **

PhD in Mechanical Engineering Jobs

Industrial Production Managers

Industrial production managers help to determine how to best use employees and equipment within a factory setting to meet production goals. They go through the processes of hiring and training, as well as conducting evaluations of employees. In addition, they monitor a factory’s divisions and their programs to ensure that they are meeting both safety and performance standards. While a bachelor’s is needed for lower-end production, higher-end production requires more experience and education, with most employers seeking applicants with a master’s or better in their engineering discipline.

Research & Development Managers

Research & development managers oversee a team of individuals and lead them in conducting research and development tasks for an organization. They work to improve company logistics and aid in keeping project budgets on target. Those with a PhD will have the degree that employers seek and the research experience necessary to carry out daily tasks. They will use a deeper knowledge of engineering to develop new products and services for their respective employers. In addition, they will have the technical expertise to help in guiding the company through all phases of production.

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers use the same research and development skills that are developed during the pursuit of a doctorate in their field. They make modifications to existing mechanical and thermal devices, as well as design and develop new ones. Mechanical engineers run tests and analyses of current systems and determine what changes need to be made to improve efficiency. Furthermore, they provide oversight during each step of the manufacturing process. Those with a doctorate will have a better chance of gaining senior positions and remaining competitive within their careers.

Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum engineers use their educational background to implement new methods for improving gas and oil production. They monitor efficiency and make alterations to drilling systems or create new tools to help increase extraction of such materials. Individuals within this job also oversee drilling operations and advise employers and employees on the various ways in which they could achieve their current project progression and economic goals. Those with a PhD will be able to work not only in academia, but also within research and development in the field of petroleum engineering.

Postsecondary Engineering Teachers

Postsecondary engineering teachers lecture within courses pertaining to the application of physical laws and principles of engineering as it relates to the development of machines, materials, processes and services within the field of engineering. They conduct research in their field and update their course outline accordingly to ensure their students have the most up-to-date information possible. Although a master’s is sometimes accepted, most professors are required to hold a doctorate in their field.

PhD in Mechanical Engineering Graduate Program Information

The amount of credits required depends on the degree you are starting from, and those who begin from a bachelor’s will need around sixty credits on average while those coming from a master’s will only need thirty two credit hours. Those who wish to be admitted into such graduate programs typically need to have their Bachelor of Science degree in engineering, physics or a related science, while earning a 3.3 GPA or better. During their pursuit of a PhD, students will need to complete two or more years of coursework, finishing with a dissertation defense in their final two years. There is a time limit of five years within most doctorate programs and while Cornell University indicates that students could pay $29,500 a year in tuition on average, graduate programs tend to cover this cost through scholarships and grants, stipends and teaching assistantships. Coursework in a PhD program tends to focus on areas such as numerical analysis, mathematical physics, and probability and statistical applications.

While not every career within mechanical engineering requires a PhD, having such a degree can help to secure management positions down the road and help to secure one’s job against competition. It will give prospective job applicants a leg up on those with lesser degrees and give them the education required to go into research and development.

Salaries of mechanical engineers in industry: From career entry to management

Generally speaking, mechanical engineers earn comparatively high salaries. The amount earned is primarily related to supply and demand: On the one hand, mechanical engineering is a demanding field of work, which means that many people are unwilling or unable to gain the required level of technical understanding in this profession. On the other hand, there is high demand for mechanical engineers in the labour market, so potential employers compete for the available resources and pay accordingly.

According to estimates by the Association of German Mechanical and Plant Engineering (VDMA), around 27,000 jobs in the German mechanical and plant engineering sector had not been filled at the end of 2017. This has had a positive effect on salaries. The salary analysts at Compensation Partner have reviewed 127,638 data points and created a new Industry index 2019. This report found that: In the field of mechanical engineering, employees earn around 27% more than employees in all other industries. This means that salaries in mechanical engineering are highest among all of the industries examined.

The specific figures according to a survey conducted by the salary portal for 2017 are summarised here:

  • On average, mechanical engineers earned EUR 67,718 gross per year. 
  • However, the often more meaningful median, which does not take low or high extremes into account, was significantly lower at EUR 60,328.
  • 25% of mechanical engineer salaries were below EUR 51,247, while another 25% were over EUR 75,027.

Starting salaries in mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineers can expect to start their career with relatively good salaries. The salary depends on the following factors:

  • Type of degree
  • Additional qualifications
  • Industry, task and field of work
  • Size of company
  • Region
  • Research or business

According to a VDMA salary study conducted in 2016, the average starting salary for students with a bachelor’s degree is EUR 45,000 per year at the start of their careers, and master’s students can expect at least EUR 48,000. However, these amounts vary widely.

What mechanical engineers with professional experience earn

The salaries of mechanical engineers tend to rise significantly as their professional experience increases. As reported by, the average salary increases to EUR 57,151 after three to five years of work, to EUR 67,262 after six to ten years and to EUR 80,510 after more than ten years of professional experience.

Salaries in management positions

Mechanical engineers who work in management positions usually earn significantly more money than a normal employee with professional experience. However, salaries at the same level can vary significantly according to the VDMA salary study.

  • For example, plant managers receive the highest salary of all departmental managers, receiving more than EUR 130,000 a year.
  • Heads of accounting and finance departments are in the middle at EUR 100,000.
  • Heads of department in production planning receive an average annual salary of around EUR 85,000.

Salaries in mechanical engineering by federal state

The salary of a mechanical engineer also depends considerably on the federal state in which they work. According to, salaries can differ by EUR 19,000 annually. The generally lower earnings compared to the average figures stated in the above-mentioned study are due to the fact that no management positions were taken into account in the calculation.
Average gross annual salaries of mechanical engineers by federal state

Federal statesAverage gross annual earnings
Baden-WuerttembergEUR 53,558
BavariaEUR 51,875
BerlinEUR 46,609
BrandenburgEUR 38,939
BremenEUR 47,277
HamburgEUR 52,230
HesseEUR 54,468
Mecklenburg-VorpommernEUR 37,470
Lower SaxonyEUR 45,285
North Rhine-WestphaliaEUR 49,714
Rhineland-PalatinateEUR 48,518
SaarlandEUR 46,870
SaxonyEUR 39,432
Saxony-AnhaltEUR 38,918
Schleswig-HolsteinEUR 43,556
ThuringiaEUR 39,983

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