Mechanical engineers utilize scientific and mathematic principles to devise technical solutions for problems in construction, engine design, and manufacturing. Aspiring mechanical engineers must earn a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at minimum, and may pursue graduate degrees in the field. Every state requires that mechanical engineers earn licensure, which calls for education, supervised work experience, and several examinations.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field(s)||Mechanical engineering|
|Licensing||Professional Engineer license required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||5% growth|
|Mean Salary (May 2015)*||$88,190|
Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
A career in mechanical engineering requires at least a bachelor's degree. These programs include instruction in various system components, from computer programming to power systems, and cover technical subjects such as fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and hydraulics. Students also are expected to gain a basic understanding of civil engineering, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering. Many programs include coursework in fields where mechanical engineering is often applied, such as business or environmental science.
Students interested in research and development positions in academia or private industry might go on to earn a master's or doctoral degree in mechanical engineering. Graduate programs in mechanical engineering typically involve research projects in a specific area, culminating in a thesis or dissertation. Engineering schools generally hold an accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
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Mechanical engineers working in all states must earn licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE). Requirements for PE licensure include a bachelor's degree from a four-year institution accredited by ABET and work experience under the supervision of a licensed engineer. Candidates must also pass the Fundamentals of Engineering and Principles and Practice of Engineering tests, administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.
Earning a degree in mechanical engineering opens a variety of career opportunities with automobile manufacturers, utility companies, and government agencies. Additional education, like a Master of Business Administration or a Doctor of Jurisprudence, can lead to employment in executive positions. Getting a master's or doctoral degree in mechanical engineering allows individuals to seek jobs as professors or researchers at colleges and universities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary for mechanical engineers is $88,190 as of May 2015. Mechanical engineers living in Alaska, New Mexico, and Texas earned the highest annual mean salaries. The BLS projects a five percent increase in jobs for mechanical engineers between 2014 and 2024, which is about average in comparison to other occupations. Growth in fields like oil and gas extraction and nanotechnology will provide additional career opportunities.