What does a mechanical engineer do?
Mechanical engineering is a wide-ranging discipline within the engineering industry and can be applied to many different work settings. Mechanical engineers design, develop, test, work with and repair machines, engines, tools, turbines, generators, refrigeration systems, air-conditioning, industrial manufacturing equipment, elevators and manufacturing robots. Mechanical engineers can be found in the manufacturing and agriculture industries, as well as sales, maintenance and management. (1)
What kind of training does a mechanical engineer need?
Most entry-level mechanical engineering jobs will require a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering. Undergraduate mechanical engineering programs emphasize mathematics, including geometry, trigonometry and calculus, as well as science, including physics. A heavy emphasis is placed on general engineering principles and practices, as well as mechanical engineering.
All engineers, including mechanical engineers, who provide services to the public, must be licensed. The licensing process includes completing a degree program approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), passing both the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam, and gaining four years of experience working in the engineering field. The licensing process can be started immediately after graduation by completing the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam; however, mechanical engineers must complete four years of experience in the field prior to taking the second licensing exam.
What are the prospects for a career as a mechanical engineer?
There were approximately 227,000 mechanical engineers working in the United States in 2006. Mechanical engineering jobs are expected to increase by 4% by the year 2016, which is lower than the expected average rate of growth in all industries during that same time period. This slow growth rate is due largely to a decline in overall manufacturing employment. Biotechnology, nanotechnology and materials science will likely create more positions for mechanical engineers, and these engineers will also find that their mechanical engineering skills and education will transfer to other engineering fields, which will open up more job opportunities. (1)
How much do mechanical engineers make?
Entry-level salaries for mechanical engineers vary in accordance to a number of factors including geographical region, level of education and experience, and additional certifications earned. The median base salary range for entry-level mechanical engineers working in Mechanical Engineer I positions is $49,333 to $68,268, with most mechanical engineers in this position making between $53,964 and $63,875. Median salary ranges according to geographical region are $59,900 for the Northeast; Middle Atlantic, $59,300; South, $57,500; Midwest, $56,500; and West, $59,200. (2)
If you have always been fascinated by machines and engines and enjoy creating new products to fulfill everyday needs, you are sure to find mechanical engineering a satisfying, fulfilling career choice.