Mechanical Engineer & Senior Mechanical Engineer

Design and Engineering

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    Required Education, Credentials, and Licenses

    • Bachelor’s degree in engineering
    • Engineer-in-Training (EIT) certification
    • Professional Engineer (PE) license (for senior engineers)

    Preferred Education and Credentials

    • Knowledge of HVAC/R system design concepts and code requirements
    • LEED certification
    • ASHRAE or similar certifications in areas of expertise


    • Analytical
    • Problem-solving
    • Engineering
    • Math
    • Mechanical
    • Creative
    • Detail-oriented
    • Computer literate, including drafting software
    • Teamwork
    • Verbal and written communication
    • Project management


    Mechanical engineers and senior mechanical engineers plan, design, build, and evaluate machines and systems that generate and use energy, including both fossil fuel- and electricity-based HVAC/R systems. Entry-level engineers may not need a Professional Engineer (PE) license, but senior engineers do need to be licensed. They have authority to lead the design and development process, sign official project documents, and often supervise more junior engineers.

    Mechanical and senior mechanical engineers in the HVAC/R field must think creatively to design or redesign mechanical systems that meet client, project, and safety requirements while ensuring that building codes and industry standards are adhered to. Demand for clean energy HVAC/R systems such as air and ground source heat pumps and variable refrigerant flow systems is increasing, and design engineers need to know the mechanics and efficiency ratings of these modern technologies in order to be comfortable using them in their mechanical layouts. Mechanical and senior mechanical engineers who are unfamiliar with electricity-based HVAC/R systems will need additional training to understand the added complexity of these environmentally friendly technologies (relative to those that use fossil fuels) so they can accurately size and design mechanical systems and select products to maximize efficiency for different building types.

    These workers test prototype systems and survey existing building systems that control temperature and air quality, conduct investigations and analyze data to identify inefficiencies or failures, and apply critical thinking and a problem-solving aptitude to remedy any issues. To accomplish this, mechanical and senior mechanical HVAC/R engineers need an understanding of physics concepts (e.g., thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics), familiarity with computer-aided design (CAD) software (e.g., AutoCAD and Revit) to produce technical drawings, strong math skills to perform heating and cooling load calculations, mechanical skills, and attention to detail. They should also be comfortable using word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software (e.g., Microsoft Office applications).

    Mechanical engineers and senior mechanical engineers need to communicate well both verbally and in writing. They collaborate with each other and many other team members – explaining technical ideas to mechanical designers who draft diagrams, coordinating with mechanical technicians who test equipment, communicating their needs to manufacturers, and working with members of the sales team to draft project proposals. Engineers working for a consultancy need interpersonal skills to develop strong client relationships with architects, building owners, and trade contractors, and must be comfortable leading client meetings. Mechanical engineers and senior mechanical engineers produce written reports and technical specifications documenting their designs and may contribute content to technical journals.

    Senior-level positions also require project management skills, including the ability to prepare cost estimates and project scopes of work, oversee budgets, develop and adhere to project timelines, lead presentations, delegate tasks to junior staff, and manage client relationships. Senior mechanical engineers may mentor and train less experienced members of the engineering design team.

    Mechanical engineers and senior mechanical engineers generally spend time at offices and work with computers to design and test systems, but they also visit worksites to conduct surveys and inspections. Most work full-time and longer hours are sometimes required.

    Job Outlook

    According to the New York State Department of Labor, there are approximately 8,200 mechanical engineers (across all experience levels) in New York State and opportunities for employment are expected to be favorable through 2030 – they project this occupation to grow by 1,460 jobs between 2020 and 2030.

    Entering the Field

    Mechanical engineers typically need to have a bachelor’s degree in engineering to qualify for entry-level jobs. Licensure is not required, and inexperienced engineers generally work under the supervision of a senior mechanical engineer for a few years before they can work independently. Although it is not common, workers without a bachelor’s degree can begin their career as mechanical designers, mechanical engineering technicians, or even HVAC/R tradespeople who have worked in installation and maintenance and work 5-7 years to become mechanical engineers. Junior mechanical engineers with a few years of experience and who have passed the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam (a step towards becoming licensed as a professional engineer) can advance to mid-level roles with more autonomy over the design and engineering process and project management responsibilities.

    A New York State Professional Engineering (PE) license is usually required to advance to a position as a senior mechanical engineer responsible for leading projects and signing official documents. New York State requires twelve years of combined education and experience credits to become a PE. Professional Engineers must meet continuing education requirements to maintain their license. 

    Some employers prefer to hire engineers with additional certifications from industry organizations, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council or specialized certifications from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). An advanced degree in an area of specialization or general business administration also opens more opportunities.


    In New York State, the median wage for mechanical engineers (across all experience levels) is approximately $102,300. Entry-level workers earn about $70,200 and experienced workers earn about $123,600.

    Annual Wage (Q1 2023 dollars, rounded to 100s) – Statewide and by Labor Market Region

    New York State$70,200 $102,300 $123,600
    Capital Region$73,600 $108,600 $129,900
    Central New York$72,700 $102,300 $118,200
    Finger Lakes$68,200 $96,200 $112,200
    Hudson Valley$72,700 $105,500 $131,900
    Long Island$73,700 $106,100 $132,900
    Mohawk Valley$57,500 $80,800 $102,700
    New York City$71,400 $105,200 $134,400
    North Country$66,700 $85,000 $110,800
    Southern Tier$69,100 $86,200 $113,600
    Western New York$64,200 $86,400 $109,500

    Source: New York State Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Survey, SOC Code 17-2141 (Mechanical Engineers)


    Many mechanical engineers and senior mechanical engineers in the HVAC/R field are employed by companies that provide engineering design and consulting services for HVAC/R machinery and systems. Other popular employers include organizations that conduct scientific research and development and manufacturers of HVAC/R equipment and parts. Governments may also hire mechanical engineering personnel.

    The top 3 employers with the most online job advertisements in each region in 2022 are listed below. The most common job titles across these postings were mechanical engineer and senior mechanical engineer, but employers sometimes advertise these positions with alternative titles such as lead mechanical engineer, HVAC engineer, mechanical project engineer, or mechanical design engineer.

    Capital Region

    • WSP Global
    • CHA Consulting
    • Jacobs Engineering Group

    Central New York

    • Carrier Corporation
    • Inficon
    • C&S Engineers, Inc.

    Finger Lakes

    • CHA Consulting
    • Colliers Engineering & Design
    • Actalent

    Hudson Valley

    • Greenman & Pedersen
    • Crestron Electronics
    • Actalent

    Long Island

    • H2M Architects + Engineers
    • Brookhaven National Laboratory
    • Ramboll

    Mohawk Valley

    • Inficon
    • Campbell Soup
    • Nelson Associates Architectural Engineering

    New York City

    • WSP Global
    • Tetra Tech
    • Leidos

    North Country (All ads posted in 2022 were from a single employer.)

    • BCA Architects & Engineers

    Southern Tier

    • Ramboll
    • Inficon
    • Cornell University

    Western New York

    • Honeywell International
    • GHD
    • Stark Technical Group Incorporated

    Source: Lightcast™. 2022.

    Labor Unions

    Workers in architectural and engineering occupations, including mechanical engineers with various levels of experience, are not highly unionized. Engineers who work in the public sector may be more likely to be union members than those who work in the private sector. Check with public unions that represent local or state government workers to see if their members include mechanical engineers.

    Education and Training Programs

    Schools across New York State offer bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering that prepare students for this work and many also offer graduate degrees for students who want to pursue further study (listed in the table below). Many community colleges offer associate degrees in engineering or engineering science that prepare students to transfer to a bachelor’s program upon graduation. Check with local community colleges for program availability.

    Mechanical and senior mechanical engineers who want to expand their HVAC/R skillset can also find training opportunities through equipment providers and industry organizations, including the following:

    Some HVAC/R equipment manufacturers and distributors offer training that is targeted to system design professionals (in addition to courses aimed at installation and service workers). See which companies partner with NYSERDA through Clean Heat Connect and check with individual manufacturers and distributors for a complete list of online or in-person offerings.

    Steven Winter Associates, Inc.’s Building Electrification Training Series includes design professionals and consultants among the target audience for its courses covering topics such as heat pumps and strategies for implementing clean energy mechanical systems.

    ASHRAE offers HVAC/R design training (with online and in-person options) for mechanical design professionals with limited or no experience in the HVAC/R field or for those who want to learn about modern technologies. They also offer a variety of building design and performance certifications.

    The U.S. Green Building Council has educational materials available to design engineers pursuing LEED certification.

    Educational InstitutionDepartmentCertificateAssociateBachelorMasterPhD
    Capital Region
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)School of EngineeringNoNoYesYesYes
    Union CollegeMechanical EngineeringNoNoYesNoNo
    Central New York
    Syracuse UniversityMechanical & Aerospace EngineeringNoNoYesYesYes
    Finger Lakes
    Rochester Institute of TechnologyMechanical EngineeringNoNoYesYesYes
    University of RochesterMechanical EngineeringNoNoYesYesYes
    Hudson Valley
    SUNY New PaltzDivision of Engineering ProgramsNoNoYesNoNo
    Long Island
    Hofstra UniversityDeMatteis School of Engineering & Applied ScienceNoNoYesNoNo
    New York Institute of TechnologyCollege of Engineering & Computing SciencesNoNoYesYesYes
    Stony Brook UniversityCollege of Engineering and Applied SciencesNoNoYesYesYes
    Mohawk Valley
    SUNY Polytechnic InstituteMajors & ProgramsNoNoYesNoNo
    New York City
    Columbia University in the City of New YorkColumbia EngineeringNoNoYesYesYes
    Manhattan CollegeSchool of EngineeringNoNoYesYesNo
    New York UniversityTandon School of EngineeringNoNoYesYesYes
    The City College of New York (CUNY)The Grove School of EngineeringNoNoYesYesYes
    North Country
    Clarkson UniversityCoulter School of EngineeringNoNoYesYesYes
    Southern Tier
    Binghamton UniversityThomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied ScienceNoNoYesYesYes
    Cornell UniversitySibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringNoNoYesYesYes
    Western New York
    Alfred UniversityInamori School of EngineeringNoNoYesYesNo
    University at BuffaloSchool of Engineering and Applied SciencesNoNoYesYesYes

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