Mechanical Engineers develop processes, products and provide solutions for everything from small components to large plant machinery or vehicles.
These engineers work on all stages of a product, including R&D, designing, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance. They also work with mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines.
Many large industrial companies heavily rely on mechanical systems and mechanical engineers are essential for their day-to-day operations. Because of the varied nature of machinery, mechanical engineering is often described as being the most diverse out of all the engineering disciplines.
Sectors that rely heavily on mechanical engineers include:
- Power Manufacturing
- Pharmaceutical etc.
Due to this, there are many employment opportunities with the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) stating a growth of 5% (14,600 jobs) by 2014 in the US, which is above average.
The median salary for a mechanical engineer is $83,590 per year, making this a career that many people consider.
Education & Training
Mechanical engineers rely heavily on scientific and mathematics principals and require at the very least a bachelors degree in engineering. However, many carry on to achieve graduate certification afterwards.
At bachelor level, you’ll cover many of the basics including instruction in various system components, from computer programming to power systems, and technical subjects such as fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and hydraulics.
If you are interested in a research position, you would need to go on and achieve your masters and post-doctoral in mechanical engineering.
Most Universities offer mechanical engineering degrees and you’ll be able to research which one will suit you best. Many also offer the ability to study part time and/or study online.
Once you have achieved your educational requirements it’s important to remember that all mechanical engineers require the Professional Engineer (PE) licensing.
To become licensed, you must complete a four-year college degree, work under a Professional Engineer for at least four years, pass two intensive competency exams and earn a license from your state’s licensure board. Then, to retain their licenses, PEs must continually maintain and improve their skills throughout their careers.
If you wish to gain a deeper understanding of mechanical engineering, you can check out our list of free engineering courses here.
The duties of a mechanical engineer will depend on their level of seniority and the sector that they’re working in. However, common responsibilities include:
- Design and implement cost-effective equipment modifications
- Developing project specifications
- Work with people from other engineering disciplines
- Develop, test and evaluate theoretical designs
- discuss and solve complex problems with manufacturing departments
- Make reliable products that will perform consistently in doing what they were designed to do
- Manage projects using engineering principles
- Plan and design new production processes
- Produce specs and outline designs
- Test prototypes and make modifications
- Research, analytical, conceptual and planning skills
- Computer Aided Design (CAD)
- Monitoring plant systems
Earning a degree in mechanical engineering presents many opportunities with employers such as utility companies, automobile manufactures, government agencies, manufacturers etc.
If people want to move into executive type roles then the addition of education such as an MBA can help you to achieve this. An understanding of business and how mechanical engineering can aid processes and operations is key.
If you wish to become a researcher then you will need top achieve your doctorate. This involves many years of studies but once you have achieved it, there are numerous areas that you’ll be able to work in.
Mechanical engineers are in demand across the world and if you like the idea of being able to pick up work in other countries, this is a good career for you to get into. As an example, employers in places such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi, are offering massive salaries for engineers to locate their for a duration of a project. There is a huge building boom going on there at the moment and for talented engineers, the opportunities are many.