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Become A Senior Principal Engineer

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Working As A Senior Principal 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

  • $124,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Senior Principal 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 Senior Principal 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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Senior Principal Engineer Career Paths

Senior Principal Engineer
Principal Vice President
Vice President Product Development
13 Yearsyrs
Principal Superintendent Senior Project Manager
Lead Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Principal Vice President Chief Technology Officer
President & Chief Technology Officer
13 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Engineering Director
Senior Director Of Engineering
15 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Development Manager Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager Engineering Program Manager
Senior Program And Engineering Manager
13 Yearsyrs
Manager Production Manager Engineering Manager
Manager, Systems Engineering
9 Yearsyrs
Manager Senior Project Manager Engineering Director
Director Of Manufacturing Engineering
15 Yearsyrs
Engineering Manager Product Development Manager Research And Development Director
Vice President Of Research And Development
13 Yearsyrs
Lead Engineer Lead Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Lead Engineer Engineering Supervisor Manufacturing Engineering Manager
Test Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Lead Engineer Engineering Supervisor Senior Process Engineer
Engineering Group Leader
7 Yearsyrs
Design Manager Project Engineering Manager Engineering/Maintenance Manager
Engineering Services Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Solutions Architect Enterprise Architect Senior Technical Consultant
Principal Technologist
10 Yearsyrs
Solutions Architect Senior Architect
Vice President, Technology
11 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Unit Manager Section Manager
Manager Of Engineering Department
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Senior Principal Engineer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Principal Engineer 4.9 years
Principle Engineer 4.5 years
Senior Engineer 4.3 years
Staff Engineer 4.2 years
Lead Engineer 3.4 years
Team Lead Engineer 3.3 years
Engineer 3.3 years
Top Careers Before Senior Principal Engineer
Engineer 6.1%
Consultant 5.7%
Principal 4.0%
Manager 3.7%
Top Careers After Senior Principal Engineer
Consultant 11.2%
Principal 5.8%
Director 3.7%
Manager 3.6%
President 3.3%
Engineer 2.8%

Do you work as a Senior Principal Engineer?

Senior Principal Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

79.1%

Female

11.4%

Unknown

9.5%
Ethnicity

White

52.5%

Asian

17.9%

Hispanic or Latino

13.3%

Black or African American

10.6%

Unknown

5.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

22.4%

French

10.4%

German

9.0%

Carrier

7.5%

Chinese

7.5%

Japanese

7.5%

Italian

6.0%

Russian

6.0%

Arabic

4.5%

Portuguese

3.0%

Gothic

3.0%

Swedish

1.5%

Vietnamese

1.5%

Hindi

1.5%

Mandarin

1.5%

Korean

1.5%

Navajo

1.5%

Greek

1.5%

Croatian

1.5%

Czech

1.5%
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Senior Principal Engineer Education

Schools

George Washington University

8.2%

Pennsylvania State University

7.3%

University of California - Los Angeles

6.7%

Johns Hopkins University

6.1%

Arizona State University

5.5%

University of Phoenix

5.5%

Purdue University

5.5%

Northeastern University

5.5%

New York University

4.5%

University of Illinois at Chicago

4.5%

Rochester Institute of Technology

4.5%

University of Southern California

4.5%

University of Houston

4.5%

Drexel University

4.5%

Stanford University

4.2%

Carnegie Mellon University

3.9%

Texas A&M University

3.6%

University of Texas at Austin

3.6%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

3.6%

Strayer University

3.6%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

24.0%

Business

13.7%

Mechanical Engineering

11.4%

Computer Science

10.9%

Finance

4.5%

Computer Engineering

4.1%

Chemical Engineering

3.8%

Management

3.5%

Physics

3.3%

Engineering

3.3%

Computer Information Systems

2.5%

Civil Engineering

2.4%

Aerospace Engineering

1.9%

Marketing

1.8%

Education

1.7%

Mathematics

1.7%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.4%

Project Management

1.4%

Systems Engineering

1.4%

Information Systems

1.4%
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Degrees

Masters

38.1%

Bachelors

34.9%

Other

11.3%

Doctorate

11.2%

Certificate

2.3%

Associate

1.3%

Diploma

0.7%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$124,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$96,000
Min 10%
$124,000
Median 50%
$124,000
Median 50%
$124,000
Median 50%
$124,000
Median 50%
$124,000
Median 50%
$124,000
Median 50%
$124,000
Median 50%
$160,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Cavium
Highest Paying City
Menlo Park, CA
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
5.1 years
How much does a Senior Principal Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Senior Principal Engineer in the United States is $124,594 per year or $60 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $96,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $161,000.

Real Senior Principal Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Software Development Senior Principal Engineer Dell Products L.P. Santa Clara, CA Aug 05, 2015 $194,250
Network Development SR. Principal Engineer Dell Products L.P. Santa Clara, CA Nov 30, 2015 $187,232
SR. Principal Engineer Fortinet, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Oct 23, 2015 $182,000
Senior Principal Engineer VIMO, Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 24, 2015 $180,000
Senior Principal Engineer Raytheon Company Tewksbury, MA Mar 05, 2016 $180,000
SR. Principal Engineer Autodesk, Inc. San Francisco, CA Dec 30, 2016 $169,800
SR. Principal Engineer Parker Hannifin Corporation Irvine, CA Sep 17, 2016 $168,615
Engineer, SR. Principal Qlogic Corporation Mountain View, CA Sep 20, 2016 $165,006
Senior Principal Engineer-Architecture Rambus Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jul 09, 2016 $165,000 -
$195,000
Senior Principal Engineer-Regulatory Affairs Hughes Network Systems LLC Germantown, MD May 09, 2016 $165,000
Principal Engr-Sw Devlpmt (Senior Member Technical Staff) MCI Communications Services, Inc. San Jose, CA Aug 23, 2016 $165,000
Senior Principal Engineer, Asic Clariphy Communications, Inc. Irvine, CA Jan 09, 2016 $165,000
SR. Principal Engineer Mangstor Inc. San Jose, CA Aug 25, 2016 $160,000
Senior Principal Product Engineer Cadence Design Systems, Inc. San Jose, CA Apr 15, 2016 $159,705 -
$206,700
Senior Principal Engineer Autodesk, Inc. San Francisco, CA May 16, 2016 $145,400
Senior Principal Modeler Risk Management Solutions, Inc. Newark, CA Jan 13, 2016 $145,000 -
$175,000
Senior Principal Engineer Teksystems Global Services LLC Detroit, MI Jul 09, 2015 $141,208
Senior Principal Engineer-Smte Adient Us LLC Plymouth, MI Jan 07, 2016 $141,170 -
$198,500
SR. Principal, Corporate Strategy Ca, Inc. New York, NY May 09, 2016 $140,000
Packaging Senior Principal Engineer Skyworks Solutions, Inc. Irvine, CA Aug 16, 2015 $140,000
SR. Principal, Corporate Strategy Ca, Inc. New York, NY Sep 05, 2016 $140,000
SR. Principal Engineer Performance Software Corp. Bothell, WA Jul 20, 2015 $138,847
Senior Principal Engineer (F/K/A Staff Engineer) Global Tel*Link Corporation Houston, TX Jan 03, 2015 $121,900
Senior Principal Engineer Hughes Systique Private Limited Rockville, MD Jun 05, 2016 $121,701
Senior Principal Automation Engineer Baxter Healthcare Corporation Los Angeles, CA Jul 31, 2015 $121,643
Senior Principal Inspirage LLC Bellevue, WA Jun 29, 2015 $121,000
Senior Principal Inspirage LLC Bellevue, WA Sep 09, 2015 $121,000
Senior Principal Inspirage LLC Bellevue, WA Feb 27, 2015 $121,000
Senior Principal Inspirage LLC Bellevue, WA Jul 31, 2015 $121,000

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Top Skills for A Senior Principal Engineer

  1. Project Management
  2. Architecture
  3. Test Cases
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Directed a federal Y2K CIO Information Management Center project management, activation and operations.
  • Served as architecture integrator and standardized all system engineering and management practices.
  • Converted test cases to TestLink and helped manage test results and overall product quality to management team.
  • Managed business development, practice development, and creation of thought leadership collateral.
  • Managed telecommunication infrastructure projects: major/critical software upgrades with feature rich components.

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Top 10 Best States for Senior Principal Engineers

  1. Virginia
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Texas
  4. Rhode Island
  5. New Mexico
  6. Washington
  7. Arizona
  8. Delaware
  9. District of Columbia
  10. Alaska
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