Research Summary. After extensive research, interviews, and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:
Salaries have increased 7% for mechanical engineers in the last 5 years
Projected job growth for mechanical engineers is 4% from 2018-2028
There are over 128,047 mechanical engineers currently employed in the United States
There are 105,618 active mechanical engineer job openings in the US based on job postings
The average salary for a mechanical engineer is $75,352
Yes, mechanical engineer jobs are in demand. The job market for analysts is projected to grow 4% from 2018 to 2028.
|Year||# Of Jobs||% Of Population|
|Year||Avg. Salary||Hourly Rate||% Change|
Mouse over a state to see the number of active mechanical engineer jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where mechanical engineers earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.
|Rank||State||Population||# of Jobs||Employment/|
|1||District of Columbia||693,972||382||55%|
|Rank||City||# of Jobs||Employment/|
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
University of Hawaii at Manoa
York College of Pennsylvania
Cincinnati State Technical & Community College
New Mexico Tech
University of Delaware
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
University of Denver
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Idaho State University
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
The Manufacturing Institute
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Song Choi Ph.D.: On a ME student resume, the things that I would look for vary depending on the position description, but it would be under the 'projects that were conducted by the student as 1) extramural undergraduate research projects that may be part of work/study, senior design/capstone projects, other course-related projects, and personal interest projects.
Next may be their overall performance in classes via a GPA and/or descriptions of skills within the projects described above. As leadership, organization, and communications are also very important assets, close scrutiny of positions on/for the projects, and involvement and roles in student chapters of professional societies, clubs, extramural activities, etc.
Overall, GPA is not of primary importance, but it does show how quickly a student can/may pick up new ideas and concepts thoroughly.
Song Choi Ph.D.: Critical thinking - logical, problem-solving methodology... I'm not quite sure to categorize this as soft/professional skills or hard/technical skills, but probably one of the most necessary assets.
Communication - written, verbal, and overall listening (helps focus on the problem statement and requirements). Most, if not all, projects/tasks are worked in large groups; thus, listening and expressing correctly is important.
Time management - scheduling of tasks and deadlines are important in all levels of engineering, from small fabrication projects/tasks to medium-sized manufacturing projects/tasks to large development/research endeavors. In Hawaii, one of the most important has been the transportation of materials, parts, components, etc., as most items are flown or shipped to us, and the overall project schedule is dependent on the availability of sub-units.
Collaboration - as most if not all engineering projects are dependent on multiple sub-categories. Due to the collaborative nature of engineering, communication is of importance again.
Creativity, innovation, and initiative - it's really about making our future better, more convenient, safer, cleaner, etc. Think outside of the box or live outside of your comfort zone.
Detail-oriented - it is about replicating results. Everything an engineer performs should be documented and clear.
Honesty and integrity as there have been too many fabricated claims and fraud as well as engineering espionage.
Song Choi Ph.D.: Fundamental competence and understanding of the mathematics (calculus), (physics), and fundamental engineering courses, generally the 2nd year and 3rd year courses. If the position requires more development/research type work, a higher competence, and understanding in the 4th year, more specific topic courses would be required. Project descriptions would be extremely important to assess these details.
For general engineering work, overall competence in all facets of mechanical engineering would be preferred - mechanics, fluids, thermodynamics, and materials/manufacturing.
As more and more mechanical engineering projects require the use of computer software and packages, a fundamental understanding of programming and the use of specific software - AutoCad, SolidWorks, MatLab, Simulink, computer languages, etc. would be assets.
If critical thinking is categorized as a technical skill involving logical thinking, it should also be considered...
Documentation of all aspects of engineering.
Song Choi Ph.D.: This would be critical thinking, communication, initiative, creativity, and leadership.
York College of Pennsylvania
Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering
Stephen Kuchnicki Ph.D.: The skills that stand out are, oddly enough, not necessarily the skills one associates with a mechanical engineering degree. That's because those skills are assumed - sure, you have mechanical design experience in your toolbox, but who doesn't with an ME degree? What stands out are skills beyond the norm. Some knowledge of electronics is good because mechanical engineers work with electrical engineers all the time. Team skills - especially leadership - always stand out. Practical knowledge of machining - not as a machinist, but to understand that parts need to get made and how to design something that is more readily made by a professional machinist - is always a plus as well. Many of these skills come from having to build projects and get your hands dirty, so to speak. Just making something on paper doesn't do the trick because that troubleshooting is lost - as well as the very important engineering step of validating your design. That is, you designed your device to do A, B, and C. How well does your device do those things?
Stephen Kuchnicki Ph.D.: Teamwork skills are critical. Engineers do not work alone often, if at all. The ability to communicate in a professional environment is also key. This can be the more traditional communication, like writing a report or giving a presentation, or something more modern like writing an email or even calling a supplier or a customer on the phone. Engineers have to do all of these things at some point or another, and a student with the confident ability to do so is well positioned for today's job market.
Another skill our employers say is crucial is adaptability. Modern engineers work with new technology and new products all the time. Engineers have to be willing to adapt their thinking to incorporate new ideas if they get the job done better. You simply can't afford to be caught in "how you've always done things."
Tied to this is the ability to keep learning. One of the things a good engineering program does is get its students to understand the need to learn independently and set them up to do so. It is very, very unlikely that what an engineer faces in the field will be like what they've seen before. There may be some new techniques that will help them accomplish their goal. Or they may work in a new industry - one of the jobs then becomes to learn more about the standards and techniques of that industry. If they have learned how to gain new knowledge independently, this isn't a problem for them.
Stephen Kuchnicki Ph.D.: Problem-solving with a foundation of sound engineering principles. Engineers are always trying to solve some problem or another. A lot of our classes are really about how you approach an unfamiliar problem logically and solve it. Sure, we have analysis and math involved in these problems in a class setting, but in the end, we are trying to get students to think logically from what they know to what they don't. That skill is transportable anywhere - I am thinking of students we've had working as co-op employees in a large vehicle manufacturing facility. There was a part that was getting dented somewhere in the process. These students had to figure out how they were getting dented and how to prevent it in the future. That's not something you see in a class - but the logical approach we keep stressing to them helps immensely.
Stephen Kuchnicki Ph.D.: I'd have to say that students set themselves apart by having some of those soft skills. They show adaptability and make themselves valuable in multiple roles. They don't stop learning and so are better prepared to adapt. They communicate well and work well as a part of the team, whether in a lead role or a team member role. They do the things that make the team around them better. And they blend that with a sharp analytical mind and the ability to apply logical thinking grounded in basic engineering principles.
Cincinnati State Technical & Community College
Mechanical Engineering Technology
Mike DeVore Ph.D.: The skills that stand out for the resumes of students who graduate from our MET program include CAD skills (AutoCAD, Inventor, SolidWorks, and NX), experience in additive manufacturing, hands-on skills in manual machining and CNC, knowledge of engineering materials, and well-rounded education that includes two semesters of co-op experience.
Mike DeVore Ph.D.: Our employers frequently mention the importance of good communication skills, both written and oral. The ability to work in a team is also an important skill.
Mike DeVore Ph.D.: -Computer-Aided Design
-Knowledge of manufacturing processes
-A good mathematics foundation
Mike DeVore Ph.D.: The most successful engineers have good technical skills, can follow instructions, pay attention to detail, are good problem solvers, and have good communication skills.
Dr. Seokbin Lim Ph.D.: The education curriculum in the New Mexico Tech Mechanical Engineering department is routinely evaluated by both the faculty and an advisory board that consists of external members from nearby national laboratories, alumni, and regional universities. Our department takes this process seriously because this process provides real-world feedback and improves our program by applying their feedback into our curriculum.
Time and time again, comments from those reviewers directly relate to hands-on training and communication skills, and we have applied this feedback in our program for many years. This element in our program has brought significantly positive responses from various sectors outside the university where our students eventually will spend their time in their careers.
From this example, we believe the hand-on and communication skills would stand out among other pools of students, and the addition of these components in their resume would be beneficial.
Dr. Seokbin Lim Ph.D.: Graduates will need to be able to function on teams that are not all centrally located.The pandemic has forced corporate and federal agencies into a social experiment, forcing them to determine how well this collaboration can work when most of the staff, instead of just a few, are located in multiple places.The result seems to reflect that many organizations will be employing far more remote workers. Being able to work on an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers spread throughout multiple companies or corporate offices, or on a team with designers in one city and production staff in another, has alway been an important skill that our graduates seem to master as they progress through their education at New Mexico Tech.
Dr. Seokbin Lim Ph.D.: Young graduates will need to be flexible in problem solving, work comfortably in team settings, and possess strong communication skills.
Important skills that the New Mexico Tech Mechanical Engineering department has emphasized to our students are communication skills and hands-on research by using our capstone design series (or Design Clinic). Note that we are the only Mech eng. program with a four-semester-long capstone design series that integrates the technical communication and hands-on in the formal curriculum.
Communication is quite a broad term and hasn't been paid much attention in general engineering disciplines. This is not the case at New Mexico tech's Mechanical Engineering department, where we are not only emphasizing the engineering disciplines but also we put quite a heavy emphasis on communication. It is the essential element for the success in their career as they will spend many hours writing reports, in discussion, and working in teams. Especially during the pandemic, the online interaction with other colleagues or completion of an online task require strong communication skills now more than ever.
Ajay Prasad: For mechanical engineers, I would highlight problem-solving, creativity, analytical and computational skills, leadership and teamwork, communication skills, and project management. Most recruiters look for evidence that these skills were demonstrated in practice through in-class and extra-curricular accomplishments as opposed to a mere listing of bullets on the resume.
Ajay Prasad: Medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and most consumer goods are still strong. The pandemic is also unlikely to slow the demand in areas like artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality. While more manufacturing jobs are believed to return to the U.S., this likely will drive innovation for the automation of manufacturing processes. Going forward, demand is likely to be strong in infrastructure, renewable energy, automotive, and aerospace industries.
Ajay Prasad: Hiring here in the mid-Atlantic seems to be as strong as anywhere else. This region is a hub for manufacturing of all kinds as well as pharma.
The UD Career Outcomes page highlights where grads tend to gravitate towards: Udel
Zippia also has a database that shows the best states for Engineers: Zippia
Dr. Mingshao Zhang: Internship and Co-op (Cooperative Education) experiences that related to the industry.
Dr. Mingshao Zhang: Most of the graduates are able to secure the job they wanted. However, for this year, the number of positions are very limited. Most companies canceled their positions due to the uncertainties in their own future. There are definitely many long-lasting impacts. In many aspects, the pandemic changes the working environment, forever. For Engineering students, especially in Mechatronics and Robotics, the students need to recognize that the opportunities outweigh the challenges.
Dr. Mingshao Zhang: Interdisciplinary knowledge base. Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering is a rapidly changing industry, with or without the pandemic. The students need to have a good background in many disciplines, as well as the ability to acquire and apply new knowledge.
Monika Bleszynski: Employers today want to see real-world experience that shows them how effective you are outside the structured environment of the classroom. Internships are great assets to have in your resume, but equally beneficial is freelance work that showcases your particular talent in your field. With internship opportunities on hold due to the pandemic, having freelance work on a resume can really help young graduates stand out and it's a tangible way to showcase skills for employers.
Monika Bleszynski: The coronavirus pandemic will unquestionably affect graduates long-term and have a lasting impact on their career trajectories and future earnings. The reasons for this are of course varied. Many internships have been canceled or put on hold, making it difficult for graduates to obtain vital career experience that they need to be competitive right as they enter the workforce. Many projects and higher education research programs have also been delayed, which has temporarily reduced the number of available opportunities on the market. It's likely that the career starting point that many graduates anticipated for themselves may be either deferred or changed, and it may take a number of years for recent graduates to regain lost ground.
Monika Bleszynski: Workplace environments are changing. It's likely that some young graduates may never physically set foot in the office or workplace for which they are hired. While computer literacy and coding ability are expected for those in computer science and engineering, in the future, excellent communication skills and writing proficiency will become even more important due to the rise in remote work. Efficiently communicating with teams and individuals that may be scattered all over the globe is going to be a necessary skill.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Charles Jenckes: For new graduates
1.Where the candidate went to school and what was studied
3.Any successful internships
4.Projects completed by the student
Charles Jenckes: In my opinion, because of the recent triumph of American Science with the development and approval of the messenger RNA vaccine, I believe the Pandemic will be largely abated by August/September of 2021. As a result seniors graduating in May/June will be dealing with an improving job market, especially for engineers. The trends I see are that remote work at least part of the time is here to stay. The lessons learned in the pandemic will not be lost on business. We will see a migration from dedicated offices to shared work environments. In addition as remote working becomes a standard we will continue to see a migration out of large cities. Software skills such as Python and Java will continue to be in demand as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning become a bigger part of regular business.
Charles Jenckes: Here is an answer:
Daisy Huang: Rapid prototyping. This is not cost-competitive for large production runs of mass-market goods, but it's a really great tool for custom goods and high-end products.
Daisy Huang: Be flexible. There are many career paths, and many could be good for you. Don't get stuck in a comfort zone where you aren't growing.
Daisy Huang: Above average, but you won't be a millionaire easily (you can with some effort, saving, and investing well). It is very unlikely you'll ever be *super* wealthy, but it's also very unlikely you'll ever not find employment in your field. You'll have a solid ticket to a modestly comfortable life, with some luxuries, too.
Marco Schoen Ph.D.: My answer to this question requires me to make an addendum to my response to the first question: "Stay current - but don't overreact:" Every few years, new technology or a new field arises that draws much interest and attracts much attention. For example, MEMS, nanotechnology, and perhaps currently, deep learning are a few to name that qualify as such. As an engineer, we have many interests, little time, and need to stay current. To choose what new field/technology to pursue and what would be beneficial to their career, having a clear career plan and long-term career goal will help prioritize choices. However, as general advice, it is safe for new practicing engineers to stay current with the knowledge that covers the fundamentals and which are omnipotent applicable. To be specific, as automation and autonomous systems become more prevalent, having updated programming skills and expertise in fundamental mathematics will always be helpful.
Marco Schoen Ph.D.: Stay current. Engineering evolves continuously; new tools, new technologies, and new areas where engineers can contribute, learn, and work. When graduating, students have the feeling they are set for their careers. However, this is not true; they might be set to start their careers. To be consistently successful in their pages, they need to stay informed and updated.
Marco Schoen Ph.D.: Starting salaries for new engineers have been competitive for many years. Engineers progress on two different pathways: technical and managerial, leading to different pay scales and careers.
Dr. Richard Onyancha: Besides having a good GPA, a student's application is tremendously enhanced by internships and any other extra curricula experiences, such as being a member of a competition team, leadership experience and any other specific experiences, such as appropriate independent study experiences that the student can speak about. Sometimes all these other experiences can compensate for a below average GPA. For some companies, demonstrating that you have participated in meaningful international experiences can be that thing that puts you over the competition.
Dr. Richard Onyancha: Automation and control, robotics, and to some extent supply chain management
Dr. Richard Onyancha: For students who would like to consider taking a gap year, depending on what their goals after graduation are, they could consider enhancing their skills in any of these areas:
- Technical hands-on skills such as CAD/CAM, simulation, design, and fabrication
- Global competency
- Public policy
- Job shadowing
- Preparing for and taking professional exams if, for example, considering medical school or law school
Kerry Lunney: I don't believe it has largely changed from previous years. A new graduate needs to build experience on the foundational learning they have received in their domain through their education. This needs to be supplemented with their own investment in continuing to learn their "craft" and supplemented with skills in teamwork, written and oral communication, time management, design thinking, and risk management. In summary, a graduate must be adaptable and have the ability to show they can keep learning. You can argue this is more important today because of the speed of technology change, and the competition worldwide for roles, but this has always been the case, it is perhaps just more visible and evident now.
Neil Littell: I believe that all young graduates should focus on building their soft-skills in addition to building technical skills. New graduates' ability to apply technical skills, in conjunction with being a great team member who is well-liked and can communicate well, combine to form a powerful synergy for conquering the job market. Being involved in student organizations such as SME (the Society of Manufacturing Engineers) or ATMAE (the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering) are great places to volunteer, learn, and grow both soft and technical skills. I see a trend in students who are pursuing certificates, in addition to their undergraduate degrees, to communicate their interest in specific fields aligned to the jobs they desire. For example, at Ohio University, we offer undergraduate certificates in project management, lean/six-sigma, and sales, among many others. These certificates exist as groupings of classes designed to go further in an area than a typical undergraduate experience. I am also seeing students pursue industrial certifications as a way to prove what they can do. ATMAE, SME, and others provide these certifications. Our program requires each of our students to participate in at least one certification exam; usually, the Certified Manufacturing Specialist exam through ATMAE.
Neil Littell: As digital engineering and automated manufacturing technologies mature, you will see a shift in the manufacturing workforce to what we call a new-collar workforce, somewhere between the traditional blue and white-collar workforce. The future workforce is more technical and able to troubleshoot vs. perform monotonous tasks. The new-collar workforce is empowered to make critical decisions on the line to support production in real-time. Many years ago, manufacturing evolved past the dirty, dangerous facilities of the 1800's. Today, manufacturing is a safe, clean, and rewarding career choice for many people who want to be a part of something bigger. Ohio University is at the forefront of this 4th Industrial Revolution, where we develop engineers who create for good.
Neil Littell: Manufacturing in the United States is booming almost everywhere. California, Texas, Ohio, and Indiana are all doing exceptionally well. For new graduates, this is a terrific time to be in manufacturing because many openings are being created through workforce retirements and a desire to implement new technologies, such as robotic automation. Right now, we are at the beginning of the 4th industrial revolution. We are driven by technology to lower manufacturing costs while increasing the speed and technological innovation within manufacturing facilities. In the U.S., new digital engineering and manufacturing technologies are enabling companies to launch better products faster and with more options and advanced features. This is driving American product innovation and creating domestic jobs.
The Manufacturing Institute
Gardner Carrick: Despite the disruptions of 2020, the job market is still strong for men and women who have the skills to keep the machines of modern manufacturing running. We expect companies to continue to invest in automation coming out of the pandemic, which will drive even stronger growth for machinery and automation engineers and technicians.
Paul Flannigan: The federal government continues to include strong funding for infrastructure throughout the United States in the federal budget. The 2019 budget included almost 100 billion dollars in infrastructure spending for both federal projects and funding that trickled down to the states. The 2020 budget was similar. State and local governments find themselves in similar positions. All political parties are promising increased infrastructure spending that additionally continues to support a good demand for civil engineering. In fact, it could be possible there is a shortfall of both entry level and experienced engineers and technicians to satisfy the demand. In the near future, job prospects and competitive salaries should remain attractive.
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Andy Gerrick: Most important is the ability to pull together the problem-solving skills learned in the different engineering courses to solve real-world, multidisciplinary, engineering problems. This requires a clear understanding of the problem and the requirements, and it requires a thorough understanding of engineering concepts. Memorizing problem solutions is of no value because no one will pay you to solve a problem that has already been solved. An engineer's ability to communicate is also extremely important. Engineering is a collaborative endeavor, so if you are not able to communicate your ideas, you are not contributing.
Andy Gerrick: Artificial intelligence will render many careers obsolete. I believe it will have a tremendous effect on engineering, but rather than replacing engineers, it will become our most valuable tool. I tell my students that many smart people predict the machines will become smarter than us and take over the world. However, I predict the last thing the machines will master is creativity, so the artists and the engineers will be the last ones standing.
Andy Gerrick: Mechanical engineering is the most general field of engineering. Any industry that designs or produces physical products, from toys to spacecraft, hires mechanical engineers. The aerospace industry, where I spent 35 years as a mechanical engineer, hires many more mechanical engineers than aerospace engineers.