How to Earn More as A Mechanical Engineer

7 mins

Working in the engineering industry offers a diverse set of opportunities across the globe i...

Working in the engineering industry offers a diverse set of opportunities across the globe in a range of areas and projects – playing a part in virtually every major industry in the world. According to the State of Engineering 2018, there is a significant shortage of talent in most of the different sectors, which means that more and more opportunities are now available for ambitious mechanical engineers to gain further responsibilities and better pay.

While there is no quick way to secure more income or money, here are five essential aspects of your career that will influence your chances of landing better and bigger assignments with better pay as a mechanical engineer:

Improving your qualifications

One way to stand out when applying for a new role that commands a higher salary is by improving your qualifications. If you’ve studied to a degree level, then having a master’s degree in your chosen field of specialism is a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Likewise, if you’re keen to progress into a management role then pursuing an MBA could give you an advantage for the position over others in the same field.

And besides pursuing purely academic qualifications, mechanical engineers can also work towards achieving chartered status in a specialist field although careful research is needed to ensure that the chosen professional body is suitable for your career and progression. That said, this route is likely to help you significantly improve your earnings.

Generally speaking, a fully chartered engineer typically earns more than those without as holding a chartered title demonstrates professional competence and the initiative to undertake additional education, training and practices that will ultimately improve performance.

Getting more and better quality work experience  

Another way to boost your earnings is to gain more experience outside your day-to-day job and one easy way to do so is to volunteer to take part in other initiatives within your existing field or organisation. Why? Because taking part in initiatives outside your current framework may just open yourself up to considerations of opportunities in other projects or tasks in the future. The best part is that you’ll be learning new skills along the way that will stretch your current technical capabilities and help you network within your field or organisation.

And when presented with the opportunity, consider taking part in high profile projects in your local or nearby area – flagship ventures like these are great on a CV! Plus, given the high-profile nature of the project, there's always a good chance that you'll get to be involved in various aspects and work alongside other talented mechanical engineers who may have exciting projects in the near horizon.

Adopting a flexible approach

In competitive sectors like engineering, flexibility is gold. If you are prepared to relocate based on opportunities and jobs then, it's highly likely that you'll be able to increase your earnings compared to those who cannot and do not have the same flexibility.

A way to be more flexible in your current position is to not be selective about the sectors that you work in as a mechanical engineer. For instance, you may find that working in the aerospace industry (or any other booming divisions in your area) offers more desirable pay or benefits than your current choice of say, the automotive division. So, consider adopting a flexible approach to help you earn more. Not limiting yourself to one select area will go a long way to helping you choose projects and jobs that offer bigger pay.

A few things to consider when it comes to moving from one division to another:

- a booming industry will mean that there is a higher demand for talent which in turn, affects the rate of pay depending on the supply of quality talent

- a slow-growing or struggling sector is more likely to offer lower pay due to the lack of new initiatives

- a fast-growing sector will offer jobs with more responsibilities that often come with opportunities for progression thanks to the changing, dynamic environment

Changing your work status

Did you know that freelancers and contractors in the engineering sector typically earn up to three times more than permanent roles?

Why not take advantage of the fact and consider switching from a permanent to contract or freelance role? The truth is, there are various advantages and disadvantages to both sides but, if your ultimate goal is to earn more money then, the latter is the way to go. Here are just a few reasons why contractors or freelancers get paid more:

- they are expected to be specialists in their areas with expert knowledge and skills to offer

- their expertise is an essential factor in ensuring the successful delivery of project

- their roles work over a shorter period of time

- they do not have employee benefits and protections such as paid leave, pension contributions and specified notice period

Read To Contract or Not to Contract for more details on the pro and cons of becoming a contractor.

Communicate – if you don’t ask, then you definitely don’t get

Though commonly overlooked for a variety of reasons, communication is often the most straightforward answer to most common woes, including about pay. Most of the time if you're in a role that you enjoy and perform well then, it's probably worth asking for an increase in pay. While talking about money in any aspect seem like a daunting challenge, communicating your ambitions might lead to your end goal. Remember, if you don't ask you won't get!

The key to being successful in your negotiations is knowing your market worth. A quick search on Google can give you an indication of the average salary in your area of expertise as a mechanical engineer. One thing to keep in mind with this method though is that you will probably receive pushback from your line manager so, make sure you keep your expectations realistic – the typical average inflation rate in the UK is up to 5%.