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Become An Engineer

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Working As An Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Make Decisions

  • $78,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Engineer Do

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

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.

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How To Become An Engineer

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.

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

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

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.

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Engineer Jobs

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Engineer Career Paths

Engineer
Project Engineer Systems Engineer
Manager, Systems Engineering
9 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Engineering Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Software Engineer
Director Of Software Development
12 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Product Engineer
Product Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Research And Development Engineer Test Engineer
Test Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Quality Engineer Quality Manager
Supplier Quality Manager
13 Yearsyrs
Consultant Co-Founder
Chief Technology Officer & Founder
9 Yearsyrs
Application Engineer Sales Engineer Technical Sales Representative
Technical Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager Engineering Program Manager
Senior Program And Engineering Manager
13 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Production Engineer
Production Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Senior Process Engineer
Engineering Group Leader
7 Yearsyrs
Manufacturing Engineer Mechanical Design Engineer Senior Design Engineer
Senior Engineering Team Leader
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Project Lead Engineer
Lead Engineer And Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Engineer Test Engineer Senior Engineering Technician
Engineering Laboratory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Unit Manager Section Manager
Manager Of Engineering Department
7 Yearsyrs
Product Engineer Product Engineering Manager
Global Engineering Manager
11 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Engineer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Principal Engineer 4.9 years
Senior Engineer 4.3 years
Staff Engineer 4.2 years
Service Engineer 3.5 years
Lead Engineer 3.4 years
Team Lead Engineer 3.3 years
Computer Engineer 3.2 years
Engineer 3.0 years
Solutions Engineer 2.7 years
Junior Engineer 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Engineer
Internship 10.5%
Technician 5.4%
Consultant 4.1%
Manager 3.9%
Supervisor 3.1%
Top Careers After Engineer
Consultant 6.6%
Manager 6.2%
Owner 3.6%
Technician 3.0%

Do you work as an Engineer?

Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

74.9%

Female

13.6%

Unknown

11.5%
Ethnicity

White

55.2%

Hispanic or Latino

14.6%

Asian

14.4%

Black or African American

10.6%

Unknown

5.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

38.3%

French

9.1%

Chinese

7.0%

German

6.2%

Mandarin

5.5%

Russian

4.8%

Japanese

4.6%

Carrier

4.3%

Arabic

3.8%

Portuguese

3.3%

Italian

2.5%

Hindi

2.4%

Korean

1.9%

Cantonese

1.5%

Ukrainian

1.0%

Urdu

1.0%

Polish

1.0%

Vietnamese

0.7%

Persian

0.7%

Romanian

0.5%
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Engineer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

9.8%

Texas A&M University

8.0%

Purdue University

7.8%

Pennsylvania State University

6.3%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

6.0%

University of Houston

5.6%

Arizona State University

5.1%

University of Texas at Austin

4.9%

University of Florida

4.8%

Northeastern University

4.4%

University of Texas at Arlington

4.3%

San Jose State University

4.0%

The Academy

3.9%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

3.7%

University of Southern California

3.7%

Rochester Institute of Technology

3.7%

Ohio State University

3.5%

More Tech Institute

3.5%

Wayne State University

3.5%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

3.4%
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Majors

Mechanical Engineering

17.4%

Electrical Engineering

17.2%

Business

11.0%

Computer Science

8.7%

Civil Engineering

7.7%

Engineering

5.8%

Chemical Engineering

3.7%

Computer Engineering

3.6%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.9%

Information Technology

2.7%

Computer Information Systems

2.6%

Management

2.3%

Industrial Engineering

2.1%

Computer Networking

1.9%

Industrial Technology

1.8%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

1.8%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.7%

Drafting And Design

1.7%

Aerospace Engineering

1.7%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

42.1%

Masters

24.7%

Other

17.2%

Associate

7.2%

Doctorate

3.6%

Certificate

3.5%

Diploma

1.5%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$78,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$58,000
Min 10%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$104,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Lyft
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Vermont
Avg Experience Level
3.3 years
How much does an Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Engineer in the United States is $78,430 per year or $38 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $58,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $104,000.

Real Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Engineer Okaya Ashburn, VA Jun 11, 2019 $125,220
Engineer IV Melbourne It DBS, Inc. Ashburn, VA Nov 17, 2010 $111,315
SAP Bods Engineer GVA Infotech Inc. Ashburn, VA Sep 16, 2018 $96,000
Cybersecurity Engineer Visa Technology & Operations LLC Ashburn, VA Aug 02, 2019 $95,888 -
$111,434
Cybersecurity Engineer Visa Technology & Operations LLC Ashburn, VA Aug 24, 2019 $95,888 -
$127,100
Cybersecurity Engineer Visa Technology & Operations LLC Ashburn, VA Aug 31, 2019 $95,888 -
$127,100
Cybersecurity Engineer Visa Technology & Operations LLC Ashburn, VA Aug 23, 2019 $95,888 -
$127,100
Cloud Engineer CNET Global Solutions Inc. Ashburn, VA Aug 01, 2019 $93,933
AWS Engineer Moxie It Solutions Inc. Ashburn, VA Sep 10, 2018 $92,400
Engineer II Melbourne It DBS, Inc. Ashburn, VA Jul 09, 2010 $87,947
Cybersecurity Engineer Visa Technology & Operations LLC Ashburn, VA Aug 07, 2019 $84,677 -
$127,100
Oracle ADF Engineer GVA Infotech Inc. Ashburn, VA Jun 01, 2017 $84,000
Engineer I KLS Engineering, LLC Ashburn, VA Sep 27, 2018 $77,896
Assoc. Cybersecurity Engineer Visa Technology & Operations LLC Ashburn, VA Aug 09, 2019 $77,438 -
$105,400
Engineer Brillio LLC Ashburn, VA May 05, 2016 $77,000
Engineer Brillio LLC Ashburn, VA Jun 05, 2016 $77,000
Spec Eng-Ntwk ENG Verizon Services Corporation Ashburn, VA Jul 20, 2013 $75,000
BSS Engineer Viewsoft Inc. Ashburn, VA Nov 30, 2010 $70,346
Engineer I KLS Engineering, LLC Ashburn, VA Sep 27, 2015 $68,640
BSS Engineer Viewsoft Inc. Ashburn, VA Mar 04, 2010 $66,000
BSS Engineer Viewsoft Inc. Ashburn, VA Jun 03, 2010 $65,000
Engineer KLS Engineering LLC Ashburn, VA Oct 01, 2013 $64,480
Engineer I KLS Engineering, LLC Ashburn, VA Sep 27, 2014 $60,958
Engineer KLS Engineering LLC Ashburn, VA Oct 01, 2010 $59,030
Engineer KLS Engineering LLC Ashburn, VA Oct 01, 2010 $58,240
Engineer 1 KLS Engineering LLC Ashburn, VA Sep 27, 2011 $55,120

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Top Skills for An Engineer

  1. Test Cases
  2. CAD
  3. Data Analysis
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Created QA department, test plans, practices, test cases and policies according to the Director of Engineering's specs.
  • Gained proficiency in CAD, design control, Chemical compatibility, Geometric dimensions and tolerance, Statistical analysis.
  • Reviewed and deliberated newly engineered combat crafts and recommended future design improvements based on data analysis and visual assessments.
  • Discovered inefficiencies in Customer Service Regulatory Compliance organizational operations, recommended new tracking processes and created a new reporting format.
  • Design and project management of electrical distribution capital projects and joint projects.

What is it like to work as an Engineer

5.0

Mid Continent Oroduction Mgr

July 24, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Engineer.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Engineer?

Challenge, satisfaction of problem resolution and working with team.. Show More

What do you NOT like?

HR compliance and accounting auditing , quarterly budgeting rather than Annual as previously accepted. Wallstreet insistence on more frequent projections.. Show More

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Top 10 Best States for Engineers

  1. Washington
  2. Virginia
  3. California
  4. Arizona
  5. Idaho
  6. Utah
  7. Alaska
  8. Texas
  9. Massachusetts
  10. New Hampshire
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Top Engineer Employers

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Jobs From Top Engineer Employers

Engineer Videos

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Mechanical Engineer: Expectations vs. Reality

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