How to Become a

Mechanical Engineer

The complete career guide to be a Mechanical Engineer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $88,190
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 5.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Good Entry Level Salary
    Career Attribute

Mechanical Engineers produce, design, develop, manufacture and install new or modified mechanical components to machinery and its systems.  They design products like engines, instruments, robots, etc.


What is a Mechanical Engineer?

The following responsibilities are common for Mechanical Engineers:

  • Maintains and modifies machines and equipment to ensure efficiency and safety
  • Assesses a projects design and safety requirements
  • Produces, tests, evaluates and implements new and modified designs on equipment and machinery
  • Presents new and modified devices to clients while also providing technical advice and support on the device
  • Analyzes and interprets data then turns that data into reports for clients and managers

A Day In The Life

A mechanical engineer designs, develops, installs and even services components of mechanical machinery.

The work environment can vary from a quiet office to factory production sites or outdoor facilities.

They will focus on projects from start to finish.  They play an integral role in the design, production, research, development and testing of a product.  They are also in charge of the research an development of the products.  They assess the new and modified product or tool and then build a 3D prototype.  These prototypes are built with technical plans using computer-aided software.  They also spend a lot of time improving upon or modifying old machine parts and tools.  They will also try to improve the production process and plan and supervise the installation of the machinery and parts.

Typical Work Schedule

Most mechanical engineers work full-time following the regular working schedule of 40 hours per week. However, you should expect to commonly work for extra hours reaching a total of 60 hours per week especially before projects deadlines. You will mainly work in the office, but you will occasionally need to visit different worksites in case of emergencies such as when a problem or piece of equipment needs your personal attention and expertise. In most cases, you will work as a part of a team with other engineers, technicians, and other professionals. Connecting with other team members and coordinating the work will require more time and the teams will vary with the size of the company and scale of the project. Additionally, significant time should always be dedicated to continuous learning to stay updated regarding the advances in this rapidly changing field.

Projected Job Growth

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently more than 315,000 mechanical engineers working in the US and this number is expected to increase by 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. This growth rate is about as fast as the average for all other occupations. This indicates that you may face some challenges while trying to start your career in this field. Mechanical engineers can be employed by multiple industries and can work on different types of projects and the rate of employment can vary slightly depending on the industries that employ them. The services provided by mechanical engineers will still be required by different companies and will also remain involved in various manufacturing industries, especially in automotive manufacturing.

Typical Employers

Mechanical engineers can work for a large number of different employers which may include providing services for many architectural, automotive, aviation as well as different machinery manufacturing corporations. Other employers include different transportation equipment manufacturing companies as well as modern computer and electronic product manufacturing which will require your skills with their products. The most popular employers for mechanical engineers include NASA, Google, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation, Ford Motor and the US department of Energy. Some mechanical engineers prefer to work with different scientific research and development institutes producing high-end technologies as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University.


How To Become a Mechanical Engineer

A Bachelor’s degree is needed for this career in either mechanical engineering or a related engineering field.  They should be technically-minded and able to demonstrate mathematic and scientific capabilities with excellent problem-solving skills.

It is also a good idea to gain as much experience as possible while going through your educational program.  Whether it be from an internship to vocational school time, it is highly encouraged and encouraged by potential employers.

They are expected to develop their educations, skills and knowledge through continuing education programs throughout their entire careers.


Mechanical Engineer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$66,540

Average

$88,190

High Range

$128,430

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$32/hr

Average

$42/hr

High Range

$62/hr

How do Mechanical Engineer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Mechanical Engineer's can make an average annual salary of $88,190, or $42 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $66,540 or $32 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #104 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally


Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Mechanical Engineer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.


Highest Education Among Mechanical Engineers

  • 3.1%   Doctorate
  • 20.4%   Masters
  • 51.6%   Bachelors
  • 10.3%   Associates
  • 10.1%   College
  • 4.5%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

277,500

2024 Est. Jobs

292,100

Job Growth Rate

5.3%

Est. New Jobs

14,600

How does Mechanical Engineer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 14,600 jobs for a total of 292,100 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 5.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #422 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally


What Companies Employ The Most Mechanical Engineers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Engineering services 52,900 12,100 12%
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 16,400 1,100 1%
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 15,300 1,900 2%

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