Companies rely on entry-level mechanical engineers to assist engineering teams and project managers in the planning, designing and testing of devices, tools, engines and complex machinery. These engineers also ensure completion of all projects on time and within budget parameters. If you want to get an entry-level mechanical engineer job, you'll need a bachelor's degree. In return, you can expect to earn a salary averaging more than $55,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for an entry-level mechanical engineer was $56,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Simply Hired, commensurate with earnings the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports for the bottom 25 percent of all mechanical engineers -- less than $64,350 annually. To get an entry-level job in mechanical engineering, you need a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. Employers may also prefer that you have internship experience in mechanical engineering. Attending a university or technical college that offers a five-year mechanical engineering program is one way to obtain internship experience; you'd spend one year of five completing your internship. Other essential requirements for this field are creativity and listening, math and problem-solving skills.
Salary by Region
In 2013, average salaries for entry-level mechanical engineers varied the most within the South, according to Simply Hired, where they earned the highest salaries of $89,000 in Washington, D.C., and the lowest of $44,000 in Mississippi. Those in the Midwest made $44,000 to $60,000 per year in South Dakota and Minnesota, respectively. If you worked as an entry-level mechanical engineer in the West, you'd earn the most in California or the least in Montana -- $64,000 or $45,000, respectively. In the Northeast, you'd make $51,000 or $68,000 in Maine or Massachusetts, respectively, the lowest and highest salaries in that region.
Entry-level mechanical engineers may earn higher salaries working in the same industries as their more experienced colleagues. For example, in 2012, mechanical engineers' salaries were highest in the oil and gas extraction industry, according to the BLS -- $128,650. They also made high salaries of $110,156 in the pipeline transportation of crude oil industry -- versus the national average of $84,770 for all mechanical engineers. Your salary as an entry-level mechanical engineer would also be higher in Massachusetts and California, because living costs are higher in those states. If you made $55,000 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, you'd need to make $84,527 to maintain your same living standard, according to CNN Money's cost of living calculator. In San Francisco, you'd need to earn $98,202, or approximately 78 percent more.
The BLS only predicts a 9-percent increase in jobs for mechanical engineers through 2020, slower than the 14-percent hiring expectations for all occupations. You may find more job opportunities as an entry-level mechanical engineer in architecture, engineering and other related service firms. To save money, companies will continue using these outsource companies for mechanical engineers. In the manufacturing industry, companies that make transportation and machinery may be your best options for finding employment, as they produce new generations of hybrid and diesel automobiles and robots.