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Mechanical engineering is a very broad discipline, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and includes the design of tools, engines, machines and other mechanical devices. Mechanical engineers are usually prepared at the bachelor’s level and, if they sell their services publicly, must be licensed in all states. The BLS notes the average annual salary of a mechanical engineer was $84,770 in 2012.
Geographic Location and Salary
Geographic location and industry can affect the salary of a mechanical engineer, according to the BLS. The top-paying states of Maryland, Texas, Rhode Island, California and Alaska all paid at least $92,020, and in Alaska, mechanical engineers earned $103, 840. Most engineers worked in architectural, engineering and related services in 2012, for an average salary of $89,760. Those who worked in the oil and gas extraction industry, however, earned $128,650. Even within a state, salaries could differ. In Idaho, mechanical engineers earned $96,890 in the east Idaho nonmetropolitan area and $112,700 in the Idaho Falls area.
The tax an individual pays is determined by her tax bracket and other factors such as deductions. A mechanical engineer who earned a salary at or close to the national average could expect to fall in the 25 percent tax bracket, according to the Tax Act website. However, the engineer’s marital status affects her tax bracket as well. A married mechanical engineer with an average annual wage would remain in the 25 percent tax bracket. If her salary was close to the high of $126,650, it would place her in the 28 percent tax bracket irrespective of marital status, and depending on her spouse’s income, might put her in a higher bracket.
Taxpayers are allowed to deduct expenses from their income tax, which can significantly affect the tax an individual pays. The standard deduction varies according to whether the taxpayer is single, married or a widow. Whether the taxpayer files jointly with her spouse or separately also affects the standard deduction. Allowable deductions, according to the Internal Revenue Service, include medical and dental expenses, mortgage points, charitable contributions, business, educational and employee expenses and casualty, theft and fire losses in declared disaster areas.
The individual circumstances surrounding a mechanical engineer’s income, tax bracket and deductions are too complex to set an average figure for earnings after taxes. However, a mechanical engineer who earns the average BLS-reported salary, is single and takes a standard deduction, could expect about $69,000 in her pocket after she pays taxes. If she is a qualifying widow, her standard deduction would be $11,900, which increases her disposable income approximately $5,950. If she chose itemized deductions or filed as married or head of household, she would be likely to have a higher income after taxes.
2016 Salary Information for Mechanical Engineers
Mechanical engineers earned a median annual salary of $84,190 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, mechanical engineers earned a 25th percentile salary of $67,070, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $106,420, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 288,800 people were employed in the U.S. as mechanical engineers.
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- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Mechanical Engineers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012 17-2141 Mechanical Engineers
- Tax Act: What is My Tax Bracket?
- Internal Revenue Service: Tax Topics - Itemized Deductions
- Internal Revenue Service: Itemizing vs. Standard Deduction - Six Facts to Help You Choose
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Mechanical Engineers
- Career Trend: Mechanical Engineers
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.