Mechanical Engineer Education Requirements and Career Info
Mechanical engineers utilize scientific and mathematic principles to devise technical solutions for problems in construction, engine design and manufacturing. As highly knowledgeable and skilled professionals, mechanical engineers require extensive education and training in both engineering and other relevant fields.
Education Requirements for Mechanical Engineers
A career in mechanical engineering requires at least a bachelor's degree. These programs include instruction in various system components, from computer programming to power systems, and cover technical subjects, such as fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and hydraulics. In addition to mechanical engineering, students are expected to gain a basic understanding of civil engineering, electrical engineering and chemical engineering. Many programs also include coursework in fields where mechanical engineering is often applied, such as business or environmental science.
Students interested in research and development positions in academia or private industry may also earn a master's or doctoral degree in mechanical engineering. Graduate programs in mechanical engineering typically involve research projects in a specific area, culminating in a thesis or dissertation. Engineering schools generally hold an accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Mechanical engineers working in all states must earn licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE). Requirements for PE licensure include a bachelor's degree from a four-year institution accredited by the ABET and work experience under the supervision of a licensed engineer. Candidates must also pass the Fundamentals of Engineering and Principles and Practice of Engineering tests, administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.
Degrees in mechanical engineering open a wide variety of career opportunities with automobile manufacturers, utility companies and government agencies. Additional education, like a Master of Business Administration degree or a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree, can lead to employment in executive positions. Getting a master's or doctoral degree in mechanical engineering allows individuals to seek jobs as professors or researchers at colleges and universities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) mechanical engineers earned a mean annual salary of $78,200 in May 2008 (www.bls.gov). Mechanical engineers living in the District of Columbia, Idaho and Colorado earned the highest annual mean salaries. The BLS projects a six percent increase in jobs for mechanical engineers between 2008 and 2018. Growth in fields like material sciences and biotechnology will provide additional career opportunities.
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