Career Advancement for Mechanical Engineers

Oct 28, 2019

Mechanical engineers may choose to specialize in areas of engineering such as mechatronics, materials science or petroleum engineering; or may take a leadership role as a principal mechanical engineer.

Career Growth Opportunities for Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers understand how mechanical devices can help solve problems, and they work to build and repair a wide range of these devices. After working in the field of mechanical engineering, some professionals may wish to advance their careers. They could consider specialized areas of engineering, such as mechatronics, materials science, or petroleum engineering. Others could take on the leadership role of a principal mechanical engineer. Some details on these careers is provided here.

Job Title Median Salary Job Growth (2016-2026)** Education
Mechatronics Engineer $68,559 (2018)** 9% (mechanical engineer) Bachelor's degree and experience
Materials Scientist $92,160 (2018)** 7% (chemists and materials scientists) Bachelor's degree and experience
Petroleum Engineer $132,280 (2017)* 15% Bachelor's degree
Principal Mechanical Engineer $116,342 (2018)*** 6% (architectural and engineering managers) Bachelor's degree (Master's degree may be preferred)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **Glassdoor, ***PayScale

Career Information

Mechatronics Engineer

Mechanical engineers must work with complex technology to perform their job functions. One area of specialization within mechanical engineering that those expanding their career should examine is mechatronics engineering. Mechatronics is the type of engineering that combines aspects of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering to build complex, intelligent machines. These machines can be used across a wide range of industries, from medicine to robotics. Typically, mechatronics engineers have a bachelor's degree in engineering focused on mechanical or electrical engineering, and have gained experience in mechatronics.

Materials Scientist

Some mechanical engineers may wish to work in a field where different types of scientists and engineers collaborate to make new discoveries. Materials science is a field that requires engineers, chemists, physicists, and other scientists. These teams work together to tailor various materials, such as fabrics, metals, and ceramics, for specific industrial uses. Materials scientists begin their careers with a bachelor's degree in one of the disciplines that comprise materials science, however, as they become more specialized, a master's degree will help materials scientists advance.

Petroleum Engineer

Mechanical engineers must understand the properties of fluids. Those that plan to specialize may consider petroleum engineering. Petroleum engineers focus on ways to extract oil and gas to support our demand for these substances. Demand for the product must be tempered with concern for the environment. Petroleum engineers typically focus on one aspect of the oil extraction process. Some petroleum engineers focus on the best ways and places to drill and some examine production, while others study oil reservoirs. Mechanical engineering provides a basis for becoming a petroleum engineer. To move into this field, further study at the master's degree level is required.

Principal Mechanical Engineer

Some mechanical engineers will advance their careers into leadership roles, possibly as principal mechanical engineers. These professionals are responsible for the management of company production equipment. They work with upper management to make plans for the improvement of these production processes. They supervise the performances of other mechanical engineers on their staff. Principal mechanical engineers must ensure that all safety precautions are followed. They may be responsible for maintaining inventory of parts needed for repairs. Principal mechanical engineers require a minimum of a bachelor's degree and extensive experience in the field. However, a master's degree in engineering management or architecture may give candidates an edge in the job market.

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