A mechanical engineer designs and builds mechanical as well as thermal devices that would improve people’s lives. You will be working on machines that generate power such as internal combustion engines, electric generators and steam and gas turbines. You will also have a hand on the development of elevators, escalators, conveyors and automated transfer stations which are found inside many structures and edifices that people move in. Your work will also encompass the design of refrigerators, air-conditioners and other machines and devices that consume power. You may even go into robotics and other advanced industries as well.
As you may have noticed, the range of disciplines that encompass the study of mechanical engineering is quite broad. This is why mechanical engineers are found in various industries, such as in the transportation, manufacturing and architectural fields. Essentially, their work involves analyzing problems and determining how the use of a mechanical or thermal device will be able to address the issue. Using computer-aided design and analysis, you design or redesign these machines and devices and come up with prototypes which will be used for testing. If it works as intended, it will go into manufacturing where you will also be supervising the process. If it doesn’t then you will go back to the drawing board to determine where the problem lies and work towards improving it.
To succeed in this job, you will need to be able to apply the basic concepts of mechanical engineering and processes in coming up with or improving machines, tools and devices. You will also need to have keen problem solving skills. As a mechanical engineer, you should be able to solve engineering and related problems by building or redesigning machines by employing scientific discoveries in the process. You should also know how to use math, especially those advanced concepts in trigonometry and calculus to come up with successful designs. Moreover, you need a lot of creativity in this profession as you will be developing and building sophisticated equipment that will provide solutions to various problems. Finally, knowing how to work with and listen to others are important traits you need to develop because you will be collaborating with other professionals in various projects.
Why Become A Mechanical Engineer
A fascination and keen interest in inventing machines, tools and devices is one reason why you should become a mechanical engineer. What’s more, you actually get to invent things that will be used in many industries, from equipment that can be used to generate power and energy to those that can mine natural resources to those that can be used for transportation. If there’s one profession that contributes to the progress of humankind, it is that of a mechanical engineer.
On the more practical side of things, the lucrative pay one receives as a mechanical engineer is one reason to become a mechanical engineer. You will need a few years’ experience to ascend to the pay ladder, of course, but it’s not impossible to earn a six-figure income the longer you stay in this profession.
Mechanical Engineer Work Environment
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that 22 percent of mechanical engineers were employed in the architectural, engineering and related services industry while 14 percent were in the machinery manufacturing industry. Meanwhile, 13 percent were in transportation equipment manufacturing, 8 percent in computer and electronic product manufacturing and 6 percent were in fabricated metal product manufacturing. Companies engaged in general purpose and automotive parts manufacturing as well as testing laboratories also employ mechanical engineers.
Majority of mechanical engineers typically work fulltime in an office setting together with other professionals engineering technicians, other engineers and architects. Travel to a worksite is required in case something needs their attention.
Mechanical Engineer Salary
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that in May 2013, the mean annual wage of mechanical engineers is $85,930. This is higher than the $78,880 received by agricultural engineers and the $83,190 paid to industrial engineers. Civil engineers received about the same pay at $85,640. However, the wages received by petroleum engineers ($149,180), nuclear engineers ($106,860) and aerospace engineers ($105,450) are higher than of mechanical engineers.
In its 2012 report, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that mechanical engineers working in the computer and electronic product manufacturing industry received the highest pay at $84,860 followed by those in the architectural, engineering and related services industry who received $84,030. Mechanical engineers in the transportation equipment manufacturing, machinery manufacturing and fabricated metal product manufacturing were also among the highest paid.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for mechanical engineers in the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022 is 5 percent, a rate that is slower than the average for all occupations. The demand will depend on the growth of the industries that will hire them. There will be good job prospects in the architectural, engineering and related services industries as well as in the oil and gas extraction industries. There will also be opportunities in companies operating in the alternative energy, nanotechnology and remanufacturing sectors.
The burgeoning field of nanotechnology will be a positive development for the employment outlook of mechanical engineers because it will be used in the fields of computers and healthcare.
Mechanical engineers who know how to use the latest software tools and 3D printing will have better chances of employment.
Mechanical Engineer Degree
The entry point for this career is a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Aside from classroom instruction, these programs also feature internships and co-ops that would give students an idea on what working in the real world is like. Bachelor’s degree programs generally take anywhere from 4 to 5 years to finish. There are also colleges and universities that allow a student to obtain a bachelor’s and master’s degree after 5 to 6 years of study.
Mechanical engineers who wish to offer their services to the public must obtain a license as a professional engineer. In order to be licensed, they must get their mechanical engineering degree from a program accredited by ABET, have four years of relevant work experience and pass a state exam. The exam is typically given in two stages. The first is the Fundamentals of Engineering exam which they must take before or after graduation. Passing this test makes them engineers in training or engineer interns. The second exam is the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam which they must take after getting the necessary work experience. Only after passing this test will they get the designation as a professional engineer.