Mechanical Engineers

Career, Salary and Education Information

Top 1 mechanical engineers.shtml Jobs

  • Engineering - California State University - Pomona, CA

    The Mechanical Engineering Department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) invites applications for full time

See all mechanical engineers.shtml jobs

What Mechanical Engineers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines.

Duties of Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze problems to see how mechanical and thermal devices might help solve a particular problem
  • Design or redesign mechanical and thermal devices or subsystems, using analysis and computer-aided design
  • Develop and test prototypes of devices they design
  • Analyze the test results and change the design or system as needed
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for the device

Mechanical engineers design and oversee the manufacture of many products ranging from medical devices to new batteries.

Mechanical engineers design power-producing machines, such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines, as well as power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.

Mechanical engineers design other machines inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators. They also design material-handling systems, such as conveyor systems and automated transfer stations.

Like other engineers, mechanical engineers use computers extensively. Mechanical engineers are routinely responsible for the integration of sensors, controllers, and machinery. Computer technology helps mechanical engineers create and analyze designs, run simulations and test how a machine is likely to work, interact with connected systems, and generate specifications for parts.

Work Environment for Mechanical Engineers[About this section] [To Top]

Mechanical engineers held about 277,500 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most mechanical engineers were as follows:

Engineering services 19%
Machinery manufacturing 15
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 7
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 6
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 6

Mechanical engineers generally work in offices. They may occasionally visit worksites where a problem or piece of equipment needs their personal attention. In most settings, they work with other engineers, engineering technicians, and other professionals as part of a team.

Mechanical Engineer Work Schedules

Most mechanical engineers work full time, and about 1 in 3 worked more than 40 hours a week in 2014.

How to Become a Mechanical Engineer[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Mechanical Engineers near you!

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Mechanical engineers who sell services publicly must be licensed in all states and the District of Columbia.

Mechanical Engineer Education

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Mechanical engineering programs usually include courses in mathematics and life and physical sciences, as well as engineering and design courses. Mechanical engineering technology programs focus less on theory and more on the practical application of engineering principles. They may emphasize internships and co-ops to prepare students for work in industry.

Some colleges and universities offer 5-year programs that allow students to obtain both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Some 5-year or even 6-year cooperative plans combine classroom study with practical work, enabling students to gain valuable experience and earn money to finance part of their education.

ABET accredits programs in engineering and engineering technology. Most employers prefer to hire students from an accredited program. A degree from an ABET-accredited program is usually necessary to become a licensed professional engineer.

Important Qualities of Mechanical Engineers

Creativity. Mechanical engineers design and build complex pieces of equipment and machinery. A creative mind is essential for this kind of work.

Listening skills. Mechanical engineers often work on projects with others, such as architects and computer scientists. They must listen to and analyze different approaches made by other experts to complete the task at hand.

Math skills. Mechanical engineers use the principles of calculus, statistics, and other advanced subjects in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Mechanical skills. Mechanical skills allow engineers to apply basic engineering concepts and mechanical processes to the design of new devices and systems.

Problem-solving skills. Mechanical engineers need good problem-solving skills to take scientific discoveries and use them to design and build useful products.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a mechanical engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education to renew their licenses every year. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the other state’s licensing requirements meet or exceed their own licensing requirements.

Several professional organizations offer a variety of certification programs for engineers to demonstrate competency in specific fields of mechanical engineering.

Advancement for Mechanical Engineers

A Ph.D. is essential for engineering faculty positions in higher education, as well as for some research and development programs. Mechanical engineers may earn graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology, broaden their education, and enhance their project management skills. Mechanical engineers may become administrators or managers after obtaining the requisite experience.


Would a career as a Mechanical Engineer be a good fit for you? Take our Career Test to find out.

Mechanical Engineer Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for mechanical engineers was $83,060 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $53,210, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $126,430.

In May 2014, the median annual wages for mechanical engineers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences $94,640
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 89,600
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 87,530
Engineering services 84,580
Machinery manufacturing 76,190

Most mechanical engineers work full time, and about 1 in 3 worked more than 40 hours a week in 2014.

Job Outlook for Mechanical Engineers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Mechanical engineers can work in many industries and on many types of projects. As a result, their growth rate will differ by the industries that employ them. Job prospects may be best for those who stay informed regarding the most recent advances in technology.

Mechanical engineers are projected to experience much faster than growth in engineering services as companies continue to contract work from these firms. Mechanical engineers will also remain involved in various manufacturing industries, particularly transportation equipment. They will be needed to design the next generations of vehicles and vehicle systems, such as hybrid-electric cars and clean diesel automobiles.

Mechanical engineers often work on the newest industrial pursuits. The fields of alternative energies, remanufacturing, and nanotechnology may offer new opportunities for occupational growth. Remanufacturing—rebuilding goods for a new use after they have worn out or become nonfunctional—holds promise because it reduces the cost of waste disposal.

Nanotechnology, which involves manipulating matter at the tiniest levels, may affect the employment of mechanical engineers because they will be needed to design production projects on the basis of that technology. Nanotechnology will be useful in areas such as healthcare and designing more powerful computer chips.

Mechanical Engineers Job Prospects

Prospects for mechanical engineers overall are expected to be good. They will be best for those with training in the latest software tools, particularly for computational design and simulation. Such tools allow engineers and designers to take a project from the conceptual phase directly to a finished product, eliminating the need for prototypes.

Engineers who have experience or training in three-dimensional printing also will have better job prospects.

Employment projections data for Mechanical Engineers, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Mechanical engineers 277,500 292,100 5 14,600


*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

Search for jobs: