Most entry-level jobs for mechanical engineers require a bachelor’s degree in engineering or mechanical engineering, though some research positions require a masters degree. Compared to other college graduates, mechanical engineers earn some of the highest starting salaries. The job outlook is good for mechanical engineers and employment is expected to grow at an average rate. Continuing education is critical in this career to keep up with technological advancements.
Nature of the Work for Mechanical Engineers
Mechanical engineers combine the principles of math and science to develop economical solutions to technical problems. They help to meet consumer and societal needs by link science with commercial applications.
Many mechanical engineers develop new products, considering several factors during the process. They may specify precise functional requirements, design and test components, produce a final design and evaluate the product’s reliability, effectiveness, cost and safety.
Beyond development and design, mechanical engineers often work in production, testing and maintenance. They may supervise production in factories, test products for quality or determine causes of malfunction. They must also estimate time and cost for each project. Supervisors may oversee an entire project or major component.
Mechanical engineers use computers in many ways. They produce and analyze designs, monitor quality, control efficiency, generate part specifications and simulate and test how systems operate. Also adding new principles to the design process is nanotechnology.
Mechanical engineers develop, design, research, manufacture and test machines, engines, tools and other mechanical devices. Mechanical engineers make up one of the broadest engineering disciplines, working on power-producing machines including steam and gas turbines, internal combustion engines and electric generators. Power-using machines including material-handling systems, escalators, elevators, refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, machine tools, industrial production equipment and robots used in manufacturing also fall under the umbrella of mechanical engineers. Some even design tools that other engineers use. Also, mechanical engineers may work in agriculture or manufacturing production, technical sales or maintenance. Many go on to become managers or administrators.
Usually, mechanical engineers work in office buildings, factories or labs. Some spend time on construction sites or production sites, monitoring or directing operations or solving onsite problems. Travel is required for some who need to visit plants or worksites.
A 40-hour workweek is typical of mechanical engineers, though during deadlines, longer hours may be required.
Earnings and Salary for Mechanical Engineers
Mechanical engineers earn median annual wages of $77,020. The highest 10 percent earn above $117,550, the lowest 10 percent earn below $49,730 and the middle 50 percent earn between $61,220 and $96,740. Engineers earn some of the highest average stating salaries among graduates with bachelor’s degrees and mechanical engineers typically earn $58,766 at the entry level.