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Does the idea of machine design and development interest you? A mechanical engineering job may be a good fit if you enjoy math, physics and problem-solving. We’ve researched facts and figures about where to find mechanical engineering jobs, salary ranges and more.
Main Takeaways: Getting a Mechanical Engineering Job
- Mechanical engineering requires at least a bachelor's degree. Depending on the seniority of the position, higher education may be required to qualify for certain roles.
- This is a very analytic field. Individuals who are mathematically minded are likely to do well in this career path.
- Salary expectations fall into a wide range for this work. Read on to find the average salary earned, growth rate, and to explore live listings.
What Does a Mechanical Engineering Job Entail?
Mechanical engineers build, design and test mechanical systems, machines, engines and tools. As a mechanical engineer, you might work in automotive, manufacturing, automation and aerospace industries. Examples of products you might design include:
- Drill presses
- Aircraft engines
- Air compressors
- Gas turbines
- Machine tools
Mechanical engineering requires a deep understanding of electricity, thermodynamics and mechanics. Mechanical engineers use tools such as computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) to produce designs and monitor product quality.
Some tasks you may have to perform include:
- Analyze a mechanical device or system and determine problematic issues.
- Design or redesign mechanical faulty or inefficient devices.
- Create blueprints for planned redesign.
- Develop and test a prototype of a device.
- Analyze test results and tweak designs if needed.
- Oversee the manufacturing process.
Mechanical engineers can help an organization improve processes and save money by ensuring that mechanical systems operate efficiently.
Do I Need a Degree to Work in this Field?
You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology at a minimum to work in this field. Typical coursework for this field might include physics, math, engineering
You may need a master’s degree if you’re pursuing a management position. You’ll likely have to obtain a professional engineer (PE) license if you want to provide public engineering services. For example, if you plan on becoming a mechanical (heating and cooling) inspector, you’ll need a PE license.
In order to get this license, you’ll need to:
- Graduate from an accredited engineering program.
- Take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. You can begin working as a trainee after you pass this test.
- Have 4 years of engineering experience.
Types of Mechanical Engineering Jobs and Titles
Let’s take a look at a few mechanical engineering jobs and titles.
Entry-Level Mechanical Engineer
An entry-level mechanical engineering job is usually offered to recent college graduates. As a trainee, you would assist and observe a senior level mechanical engineer with daily tasks to gain experience.
Sample job titles: Entry-level mechanical engineer, junior mechanical engineer, design engineer
Mechanical Engineering Technician
Mechanical engineering technicians help mechanical engineers design, test and manufacture mechanical devices, including machines, tools and engines. They assist with sketches, data analysis, estimating and reporting.
Sample job titles: Mechanical engineering technician, engineering assistant, engineering technician
Mechanical Project Engineer
Mechanical project engineers use math and science to design mechanical systems or products. They collaborate with research, development, manufacturing
Sample job titles: Project engineer, mechanical project engineer
Senior Mechanical Engineer
A senior-level mechanical engineer has many years of experience and may lead a team of engineers while overseeing major projects. You might be required to have a master’s degree and multiple certifications.
Sample job titles: Senior level mechanical engineer, senior manufacturing engineer, engineering lead
Mechanical inspectors work for local and state municipalities and inspect heating and cooling systems to ensure they meet building codes for both residential and business customers. A mechanical inspector is responsible for ensuring that new business owners’ or homeowners’ mechanical systems are operating safely.
Sample job titles: Mechanical inspector, city inspector, municipal inspector
Mechanical Engineering Professor
Mechanical engineering professors teach bachelor’s and master’s degree-seeking students at colleges and universities. Most professors have advanced mechanical engineering degrees in specialty fields such as fluid or thermal dynamics. Some write textbooks and collaborate with colleagues on research projects.
Sample job titles: Adjunct mechanical engineering instructor, assistant professor of engineering, mechanical engineering professor
Other Types of Engineering Jobs
There are other types of engineering jobs you can pursue, depending on your interests:
- Aerospace engineer
- Civil engineer
- Chemical engineer
- Petroleum engineer
- Electrical engineer
- Materials engineer
Every type of engineer designs and builds things, just in different categories. For example, electrical engineers design electrical equipment and navigation systems, while civil engineers design infrastructure projects such as bridges and dams.
Salary Ranges and Expectations for Mechanical Engineer Jobs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median pay for a mechanical engineer is $87,300. Mechanical engineering technicians earn $56,200 and materials engineers earn $92,300, so it depends on the job classification and level of education.
Projected Growth Rate of the Mechanical Engineer Field
The job outlook for mechanical engineers and mechanical engineering technicians is positive, with an expected job growth rate of 9% by 2026, which is similar in pace compared to other occupations.
How to Get a Mechanical Engineering Job
How do you go about finding a mechanical engineering job, assuming you’ve got the right education? A mechanical engineering job is more complex than a data entry job, which means you’ll have more steps to follow to find the perfect position. Here are some tips and strategies to help you in your job search:
- Attend job fairs: Many colleges and local communities hold job fairs that involve companies hiring for engineering jobs. Dress for success and bring lots of copies of your resume.
- Visit your college career center: Whether you’re still a student or a recent grad, you have access to your school’s career center, where you’ll find valuable resources for job searching.
- Become an apprentice or intern: Get an internship or become an apprentice to learn the ropes from an experienced mechanical engineer.
- Network: Update your LinkedIn profile and add contacts that may be potential employers or colleagues. Join professional organizations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to connect with peers and find resources for continuing education and job postings.
- Register with an employment agency: Many staffing agencies specialize in placing mechanical engineers in temporary and permanent positions.
- Research your target companies: Research major companies or organizations and visit their websites to look for job listings.
- Tailor your resume: Make sure your resume highlights your education, experience and any certifications you’ve earned in computer programs related to your field.
- Consider moving: The top 5 states that have added the most mechanical engineering jobs are Colorado (23.9%), Utah (21.7%), North Dakota (20.4%), Texas (20%) and Montana (19.1%), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Become specialized: You can set yourself apart from the competition by narrowing your focus and becoming more focused in your field. For example, you can specialize in transportation systems or mechanical design.
Top 8 Skills to Be Successful as a Mechanical Engineer
You’ll need to be more than mechanically inclined to land a mechanical engineering job — there are other talents and strengths you’ll need to be successful in this field. Here are the top 6 skills you should have.
1. Problem-Solving Skills
Developing and testing devices and prototypes requires keen problem-solving skills. A big part of a mechanical engineer’s job is to identify and resolve issues with products to improve performance and efficiency.
2. Communication Skills
A mechanical engineer has to be able to effectively communicate with fellow engineers, business stakeholders and decision makers regarding products that are developed, tested and manufactured.
3. Analytical Skills
Mechanical engineers need good analytical skills in order to develop and test prototypes, identify design improvements, validate testing procedures and troubleshoot equipment.
4. Math Skills
Mechanical engineers need excellent math skills to solve problems. You may be required to use physics, calculus and statistics daily. You must also be adept in applying these skills to analyze problems and develop solutions.
5. Technical Skills
Mechanical engineers are required to use sophisticated computer programs to design and build products and devices, so being tech savvy is a must.
6. Leadership Skills
Most mechanical engineering jobs will require you to speak to business leaders about the products you build and design as well as lead other engineers and assistants, so you’ll need strong leadership abilities. You’ll be regarded as the resident expert in your field, so you need to be confident and authoritative.
The ability to develop cutting-edge solutions is critical to successful mechanical engineering, so creative skills are imperative. Conceptualizing, developing and inventing new products also requires forward-thinking vision and innovation.
You’ll be tasked with examining complex systems and products, so you need to be able to pay attention to every detail. The success or failure of a project you oversee could hinge on the smallest of details, so you’ll need to be focused.
Unlimited Job Prospects and a Lucrative Career
Engineering jobs are the hardest to fill, according to ManpowerGroup Global’s talent shortage survey. U.S. colleges and universities can’t produce enough graduates to meet the growing demand.
Mechanical engineers are currently the most in-demand of all the engineering fields, so you’ll have your pick of any number of excellent jobs in a wide range of industries if mechanical engineering is your forte. When you finally find your dream job, make sure you take advantage of the 401(k) plan offered by your company so you can plan for retirement.
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About Laura Hipshire
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