Joe Gilder tells us what a mastering engineer can do for you in this excellent post. Mastering engineers can really help improve an already good mix but can’t make a bad mix good. Mastering tightens up the low end on mixes so it is consistent between songs but it cannot create one if it’s not already there. Mastering can also make mixes sound more polished and professional but again if it already sounded bad mastering can’t fix it.
Some good points. Read in full:
What Mastering CAN and CAN’T Do For You