Mechanical Engineer Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a mechanical engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Mechanical engineers utilize scientific and mathematic principles to devise technical solutions for problems in construction, engine design and manufacturing. Aspiring mechanical engineers must earn a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at minimum, and many pursue graduate degrees in the field. Every state requires that mechanical engineers earn licensure, which calls for education, supervised work experience and several examinations.

Required EducationBachelor's degree in mechanical engineering
LicensingProfessional Engineer license required
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*5%
Mean Salary (2013)* $85,930

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Education Requirements

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. Students also are expected to gain a basic understanding of civil engineering, electrical engineering and chemical engineering. Many programs 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 might go on to 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).

Licensure

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 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.

Career Info

Earning a degree in mechanical engineering opens a variety of career opportunities with automobile manufacturers, utility companies and government agencies. Additional education, like a Master of Business Administration or a Doctor of Jurisprudence, 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 $85,930 in May 2013 (www.bls.gov). Mechanical engineers living in Alaska, Delaware and New Mexico earned the highest annual mean salaries. The BLS projects a five percent increase in jobs for mechanical engineers between 2012 and 2022. Growth in fields like oil and gas extraction and nanotechnology will provide additional career opportunities.

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    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Environmental Engineering
      • Industrial Engineering
      • Materials Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Petroleum Engineering
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    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Computer Engineering
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      • Environmental Engineering
      • Geological Engineering
      • Materials Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Systems Engineering
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    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Computer Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Environmental Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Computer Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Environmental Engineering
      • Materials Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
      • Biological and Agricultural Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
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      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Environmental Engineering
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      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Nuclear Engineering
      • Ocean Engineering
      • Surveying
      • Systems Engineering
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    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Cornell University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Engineering
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      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Nuclear Engineering
      • Systems Engineering
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boston University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Computer Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Engineering Mechanics
      • Manufacturing Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Systems Engineering
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Miami include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Computer Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Engineering - Architectural
      • Environmental Engineering
      • Industrial Engineering
      • Manufacturing Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics