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Working as a Mechanical Engineer

What Does a Mechanical 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.

How To Become a Mechanical 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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Average Salary$75,396
Job Growth Rate4%

Mechanical Engineer Jobs

Mechanical Engineer Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Mechanical Engineer. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Mechanical Engineer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Mechanical Engineer resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Mechanical Engineer Career Paths

Top Careers Before Mechanical Engineer

Top Careers After Mechanical Engineer

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Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical Engineers in America make an average salary of $75,396 per year or $36 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $97,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $58,000 per year.
Average Salary
$75,396

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range75k - 112k$92k$92,282
Salary Range70k - 108k$87k$87,296
Salary Range69k - 97k$82k$82,274
Salary Range67k - 99k$82k$81,687
Salary Range66k - 95k$80k$79,707
Salary Range63k - 91k$76k$76,287
$55k
$112k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
State Review Mechanical Engineer
State Review Mechanical Engineer
Virginia Department of General Services
Virginia Department of General Services
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$84,00010/31/2020
$84,000
Mechanical Engineer/Solidworks
Mechanical Engineer/Solidworks
Austin Allen Company, LLC 1152
Austin Allen Company, LLC 1152
10/30/2020
10/30/2020
$70,00010/30/2020
$70,000
Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineer
Public Buildings Service
Public Buildings Service
10/30/2020
10/30/2020
$70,12010/30/2020
$70,120
Mechanical Engineer Using Solidworks
Mechanical Engineer Using Solidworks
Austin Allen Company, LLC 1152
Austin Allen Company, LLC 1152
10/30/2020
10/30/2020
$70,00010/30/2020
$70,000
Engineering Mechanical
Engineering Mechanical
Essential Personnel, Inc.
Essential Personnel, Inc.
10/29/2020
10/29/2020
$50,00010/29/2020
$50,000
See More Recent Salaries

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Mechanical Engineer Demographics

Gender

male

80.6%

female

12.7%

unknown

6.6%

Ethnicity

White

73.3%

Asian

15.1%

Hispanic or Latino

6.8%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

28.0%

Chinese

9.7%

Mandarin

9.3%
See More Demographics

Mechanical Engineer Education

Degrees

Bachelors

60.5%

Masters

27.4%

Associate

3.8%

Top Colleges for Mechanical Engineers

1. Michigan Technological University

Houghton, MI

Tuition and fees
$15,646
Enrollment
5,736

2. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA

Tuition and fees
$12,424
Enrollment
15,201

3. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

Tuition and fees
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

4. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Tuition and fees
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

5. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY

Tuition and fees
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

6. Iowa State University of Science and Technology

Ames, IA

Tuition and fees
$8,988
Enrollment
29,248

7. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

Tuition and fees
$53,740
Enrollment
5,567

8. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA

Tuition and fees
$55,465
Enrollment
6,483

9. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX

Tuition and fees
$10,610
Enrollment
40,329

10. University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, WI

Tuition and fees
$10,555
Enrollment
30,360
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Mechanical Engineer

Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Mechanical Engineer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 8.4% of mechanical engineers listed cad on their resume, but soft skills such as math skills and mechanical skills are important as well.

Best States For a Mechanical Engineer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a mechanical engineer. The best states for people in this position are New Mexico, California, Texas, and Delaware. Mechanical engineers make the most in New Mexico with an average salary of $87,641. Whereas in California and Texas, they would average $86,749 and $86,359, respectively. While mechanical engineers would only make an average of $86,216 in Delaware, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New Mexico

Total Mechanical Engineer Jobs:
268
Highest 10% Earn:
$126,000
Location Quotient:
1.16
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Texas

Total Mechanical Engineer Jobs:
3,179
Highest 10% Earn:
$128,000
Location Quotient:
1.04
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New Hampshire

Total Mechanical Engineer Jobs:
345
Highest 10% Earn:
$111,000
Location Quotient:
1.44
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
View Full List

Mechanical Engineer Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a mechanical engineer. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

At Zippia, we went through countless mechanical engineer resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Write a Mechanical Engineer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless mechanical engineer resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

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Top Mechanical Engineer Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ mechanical engineers and discovered their number of mechanical engineer opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Engineering Associates, LLC was the best, especially with an average salary of $67,932. HCL America Inc. follows up with an average salary of $76,703, and then comes Schlumberger with an average of $71,249. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a mechanical engineer. The employers include Kforce, NuScale Power, and Techtronic Industries North America, Inc.

1. Engineering Associates
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$67,932
Mechanical Engineers Hired: 
813+
2. HCL America
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$76,703
Mechanical Engineers Hired: 
715+
3. Schlumberger
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$71,249
Mechanical Engineers Hired: 
438+
4. Cummins
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$68,332
Mechanical Engineers Hired: 
414+
5. General Electric
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$85,521
Mechanical Engineers Hired: 
347+
6. Applied Materials
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$85,027
Mechanical Engineers Hired: 
270+

Recently Added Mechanical Engineer Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020