In an increasingly competitive job market, more and more people are considering finding jobs in STEM fields in order to have greater job security. At the same time, job growth and prospects in these areas have caused an increase in popularity for college students majoring in these domains. Becoming an engineer can be a great way to make a good wage right out of college, but which of the many specializations in engineering are the right one to study? If you're looking to make money and have a good variety of job opportunities, mechanical engineering is a great field to choose. Even better, job outlook in mechanical engineering design is on pace or performing better than other industries, helping to give you peace of mind when it comes to committing to the field. Here's what you need to know about how mechanical engineers are compensated.

One reason that mechanical engineers are paid so well is because unlike other fields, your education matters a lot as a mechanical engineer. You'll need at least a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in order to even be considered for an entry level job. From there, if you want to maximize your earning potential, it's highly recommended that you receive a master's degree in a similar field. Some mechanical engineers with managerial aspirations even end up getting their doctorate degree. Mechanical engineers with PhDs are obviously the most highly compensated of all engineers.

Even with a bachelor's degree, however, you'll likely be very happy with your starting salary as a mechanical engineer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mechanical engineers make a median salary of about $87,000. Hourly wages typically set somewhere around $44/hour. While these figures reflect the median pay of mechanical engineers across the country, and not the average, it's important to note that even starting salaries tend to start at $55,000 or more. That's still well above the median pay across all industries in the country of about $38,000. Plus, when you consider that the average total household income was $48,000 across two earners, making more than that as a single worker just starting out is a great place to be.

Mechanical engineers may also be entitled to other forms of compensation beyond their annual salary. Depending on the company you work for, for example, you may have access to stock and bond options that allow you to make money you wouldn’t otherwise have access to working somewhere else. Depending on how hands-on your line of work is as an engineer, you may also be entitled to workmans compensation if you’re injured on the job. Sometimes it can be worth retaining a workers compensation lawyer in order to ensure that you get top dollar in your settlement, and of course these sorts of situations are more of a case by case basis; however, it’s worth bringing up nonetheless.

Regardless of whether you’re starting out as a junior mechanical engineer or are working your way up as a regular or senior mechanical engineer, your job outlook is quite positive in the field of mechanical engineering. If you enjoy working with and designing mechanical tools and devices, and are interested in making a solid living wage, choosing to pursue a career in mechanical engineering can be a great decision. You may also use computers to assist you in the creation of a variety of materials, schematics, and blueprints, so having a technical background is also a good idea if you want to pursue a career in the field. There are plenty of well-regarded universities throughout the country that will help you gain an edge when it comes to having a strong degree in engineering. Take a look at top engineering schools like MIT, Stanford, or Purdue if you’re interested in taking your career and your salary to the next level.

Author's Bio: 

A freelance writer with a BA in English from Sarah Lawrence College.