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Become A Principal Mechanical Engineer

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Working As A Principal Mechanical Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Make Decisions

  • $95,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Principal Mechanical Engineer Do

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines.

Duties

Mechanical engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze problems to see how mechanical and thermal devices might help solve a particular problem
  • Design or redesign mechanical and thermal devices or subsystems, using analysis and computer-aided design
  • Develop and test prototypes of devices they design
  • Analyze the test results and change the design or system as needed
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for the device

Mechanical engineers design and oversee the manufacture of many products ranging from medical devices to new batteries.

Mechanical engineers design power-producing machines, such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines, as well as power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.

Mechanical engineers design other machines inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators. They also design material-handling systems, such as conveyor systems and automated transfer stations.

Like other engineers, mechanical engineers use computers extensively. Mechanical engineers are routinely responsible for the integration of sensors, controllers, and machinery. Computer technology helps mechanical engineers create and analyze designs, run simulations and test how a machine is likely to work, interact with connected systems, and generate specifications for parts.

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How To Become A Principal Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Mechanical engineers who sell services publicly must be licensed in all states and the District of Columbia.

Education

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Mechanical engineering programs usually include courses in mathematics and life and physical sciences, as well as engineering and design courses. Mechanical engineering technology programs focus less on theory and more on the practical application of engineering principles. They may emphasize internships and co-ops to prepare students for work in industry.

Some colleges and universities offer 5-year programs that allow students to obtain both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Some 5-year or even 6-year cooperative plans combine classroom study with practical work, enabling students to gain valuable experience and earn money to finance part of their education.

ABET accredits programs in engineering and engineering technology. Most employers prefer to hire students from an accredited program. A degree from an ABET-accredited program is usually necessary to become a licensed professional engineer.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Mechanical engineers design and build complex pieces of equipment and machinery. A creative mind is essential for this kind of work.

Listening skills. Mechanical engineers often work on projects with others, such as architects and computer scientists. They must listen to and analyze different approaches made by other experts to complete the task at hand.

Math skills. Mechanical engineers use the principles of calculus, statistics, and other advanced subjects in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Mechanical skills. Mechanical skills allow engineers to apply basic engineering concepts and mechanical processes to the design of new devices and systems.

Problem-solving skills. Mechanical engineers need good problem-solving skills to take scientific discoveries and use them to design and build useful products.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a mechanical engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education to renew their licenses every year. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the other state’s licensing requirements meet or exceed their own licensing requirements.

Several professional organizations offer a variety of certification programs for engineers to demonstrate competency in specific fields of mechanical engineering.

Advancement

A Ph.D. is essential for engineering faculty positions in higher education, as well as for some research and development programs. Mechanical engineers may earn graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology, broaden their education, and enhance their project management skills. Mechanical engineers may become administrators or managers after obtaining the requisite experience.

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Principal Mechanical Engineer Career Paths

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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Design Engineer 3.4 years
Top Careers Before Principal Mechanical Engineer
Engineer 3.6%
Consultant 1.7%
Top Careers After Principal Mechanical Engineer
Consultant 4.1%
Engineer 3.5%

Do you work as a Principal Mechanical Engineer?

Principal Mechanical Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

85.5%

Unknown

9.2%

Female

5.3%
Ethnicity

White

55.5%

Hispanic or Latino

16.1%

Asian

15.1%

Black or African American

9.2%

Unknown

4.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

31.8%

German

9.1%

Russian

9.1%

Akan

4.5%

Kurdish

4.5%

Chinese

4.5%

Portuguese

4.5%

French

4.5%

Norwegian

4.5%

Carrier

4.5%

Polish

4.5%

Arabic

4.5%

Mandarin

4.5%

Italian

4.5%
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Principal Mechanical Engineer Education

Schools

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

10.9%

Northeastern University

10.9%

Texas A&M University

6.6%

Purdue University

6.6%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

6.6%

University of Central Florida

5.1%

Stanford University

5.1%

University of Texas at Austin

5.1%

Tufts University

4.4%

San Jose State University

3.6%

University of Washington

3.6%

Florida Atlantic University

3.6%

Drexel University

3.6%

Pennsylvania State University

3.6%

University of California - Berkeley

3.6%

University of Utah

3.6%

University of Arizona

3.6%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

3.6%

North Carolina State University

2.9%

Arizona State University

2.9%
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Majors

Mechanical Engineering

65.6%

Business

5.4%

Engineering

3.7%

Aerospace Engineering

2.9%

Engineering And Industrial Management

2.5%

Drafting And Design

2.3%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.1%

Civil Engineering

1.9%

Industrial Technology

1.8%

Automotive Technology

1.8%

Project Management

1.4%

Electrical Engineering

1.4%

Manufacturing Engineering

1.2%

Physics

1.2%

Management

1.0%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.0%

Systems Engineering

0.8%

Engineering Technology

0.8%

Surveying, Mapping, And Hydraulic Technologies

0.8%

Computer Applications

0.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.2%

Masters

31.8%

Other

11.1%

Doctorate

5.7%

Associate

2.8%

Certificate

1.7%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$95,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$72,000
Min 10%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Median 50%
$125,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Microsoft
Highest Paying City
San Jose, CA
Highest Paying State
Maine
Avg Experience Level
4.6 years
How much does a Principal Mechanical Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Principal Mechanical Engineer in the United States is $95,754 per year or $46 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $72,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $125,000.

Real Principal Mechanical Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Principal Mechanical Engineer Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Apr 29, 2016 $190,000
Principal Mechanical Engineer Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Aug 06, 2014 $175,000
Principal Engineer, Mechanical Kulicke and Soffa Industries, Inc. Santa Ana, CA Nov 09, 2015 $147,009
Principal Mechanical Engineer WS Atkins Inc. Houston, TX Jul 29, 2015 $145,485
Principal Mechanical Engineer WS Atkins, Inc. Houston, TX Feb 25, 2015 $145,000
Principal Mechanical Engineer Houston Offshore Engineering, LLC Houston, TX Oct 01, 2014 $145,000
Principal Mechanical Engineer WS Atkins, Inc. Houston, TX Aug 16, 2015 $145,000
Principal Mechanical Engineer-Rotating and Packaged Equip. Foster Wheeler USA Corporation Houston, TX Oct 02, 2015 $142,696
Principal Engineer, Mechanical Kulicke & Soffa Santa Ana, CA Sep 24, 2015 $142,520
Principal Mechanical Engineer Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals, Inc. Houston, TX Aug 24, 2012 $140,004 -
$187,200
Principal Engineer, Mechanical Implant Design Advanced Bionics LLC Santa Clarita, CA Oct 20, 2016 $127,500
Principal Mechanical Engineer WS Atkins Inc. Houston, TX Jul 29, 2015 $126,806 -
$150,264
Principal Mechanical Engineer WS Atkins, Inc. Houston, TX Aug 16, 2015 $124,030 -
$155,000
Principal Mechanical Engineer WS Atkins, Inc. Houston, TX Feb 25, 2015 $124,030 -
$155,000
Mechanical Principal Engineer Dell Products L.P. Austin, TX Jul 12, 2015 $120,000
Principal Mechanical Engineer Osram Sylvania Inc. Danvers, MA Oct 01, 2013 $111,485
Principal Mechanical Engineer Advanced Bionics LLC Santa Clarita, CA Apr 21, 2014 $110,000 -
$116,000
Mechanical Engineer, Associate Principal Integral Group, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Oct 14, 2014 $109,387
Principal Mechanical Engineer Worleyparsons Group, Inc. Bellaire, TX Jun 29, 2014 $108,482
Principal Mechanical Engineer (Door Handle Systems) Huf North America Automotive Parts Mfg Corp Farmington Hills, MI Aug 09, 2016 $108,170
Principal Mechanical Engineer Osram Sylvania Inc. Danvers, MA May 23, 2014 $107,964
Principal Mechanical Engineer Worleyparsons Group, Inc. Houston, TX Dec 07, 2015 $106,620 -
$199,680
Principal Mechanical Engineer Worleyparsons Group, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 18, 2015 $106,620 -
$199,680

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Top Skills for A Principal Mechanical Engineer

  1. Engineering Department
  2. New Product Development
  3. Mechanical Design
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed engineering department for flight simulator systems product research and development, reporting to president.
  • Project lead on new product development for high efficiency TV transmitter line.
  • Lead mechanical engineer responsible for mechanical designs and printed circuit board designs for space and military electronics.
  • Maintain existing mechanical designs for all instruments and related equipment using SolidWorks.
  • Worked with other engineering disciplines to ensure that prototype units met all performance requirements.

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Top 10 Best States for Principal Mechanical Engineers

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Texas
  3. New Mexico
  4. Alaska
  5. Delaware
  6. New Hampshire
  7. Arizona
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Virginia
  10. Maryland
  • (331 jobs)
  • (2,956 jobs)
  • (172 jobs)
  • (56 jobs)
  • (99 jobs)
  • (389 jobs)
  • (666 jobs)
  • (1,494 jobs)
  • (1,793 jobs)
  • (812 jobs)

Top Principal Mechanical Engineer Employers

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