In simple terms, mechanical engineering is the art and science of applying principles and techniques in solving design and engineering problems. It involves object design, manufacturing and operation. Mechanical engineering is a profession with many career options and high earning potential. Mechanical engineers work in various sectors, including manufacturing, power, automotive, medical etc.
The mechanical engineering career starts with a degree in mechanical engineering from a tertiary institution. This career requires practising licensure from the state in order to work in certain industries. The mechanical engineering degree curriculum is firmly rooted in STEM subjects. It develops a natural affinity toward science, mathematics, logical and analytical thinking.
Mechanical engineers play crucial roles in different sectors of the economy. They collaborate with other scientists to solve some environmental and global issues.
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In this article, we outline four reasons why mechanical engineering is a good career path. 10 best mechanical engineering jobs are also enumerated.
Mechanical Engineering Career and Skill Set
According to The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), five future engineering jobs include robot creation, drone construction, space engineering, water harvesting and tissue building. This projection highlights the fact that mechanical engineers will remain relevant in the next decades.
A bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering/ mechanical engineering technology is the major requirement for entry into the mechanical engineering profession. It takes about 4-5 years to acquire these degrees. These degrees incorporate classroom study, practical work, and internships; which provide students with hands-on experience.
To boost your success in a mechanical engineering career, it is necessary to sit for the Fundamental of Engineer (FE) exams after completing your bachelor’s degree. This is to enable you get a professional certification license. Passing the FE and Practice of Engineering (PE) exams along with years of experience will set you apart for a successful career as a mechanical engineer.
Undertaking a bachelor’s degree program in mechanical engineering will help you develop some skill sets that will guarantee your success in your profession. These skills include both hard and soft skills. While the hard skills demonstrate your mastery of the industry, the soft skills allow you to develop the emotional intelligence needed for success in a workspace.
The work of a mechanical engineer is exciting but challenging. Therefore prospects in this profession must be meticulous to develop these skills. Because the presence or absence of such skills will decide the extent of exploitation in the profession.
Fundamental skills which are crucial for success as a mechanical engineer include:
- Analytical/critical thinking
- Diligence /being detailed
- Computer skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Communication skills
- Technical /Mechanical skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Management skills
- Team spirit
Is Mechanical Engineering a good career path?
Yes, mechanical engineering is not just a good career path but a noble and lucrative one. A variety of reasons can be deduced to justify that assertion. Some of the reasons why mechanical engineering is a good career path are:
- Availability of job opportunities
Count yourself lucky if you are considering a career in this profession because of the numerous job opportunities available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, states that job opportunity for mechanical engineers is projected to grow by about 7 % from 2020 to 2030. In addition, more than 20,000 openings are expected for mechanical engineers in the next ten years. These are pointers to the fact that mechanical engineers have greater job opportunities compared to other professions.
The latest focus in the engineering field is manufacturing and production. Institute of Engineering Technology has listed the most valuable skills requirements in the manufacturing industry to include automation, mechatronic and robotics. Mechanical engineers are major players in these fields, thus, they are better placed to leverage the current industrial revolution. Therefore, there is some guarantee for job opportunities for mechanical engineers even in the future.
- High Earnings
Mechanical engineers are one of the highest earners in many states. Their salary and work condition is very attractive. A report by the American Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the average salary of a mechanical engineer is $90,160 as of 2020. This amount varies depending on the state the individual is working.
There are some factors that are responsible for the variation in salary in different states. Such factors include standard of living, competition for manpower and government policy. Knowing the states with an attractive salary can help you decide on which state to practice as a mechanical engineer. Below are the states with good average salaries structure.
Virginia: $91,167 per year
Washington: $91,752 per year
Louisiana: $92,865 per year
Maryland: $93,625 per year
Oklahoma: $93,736 per year
Washington D.C.: $96,399 per year
California: $100,722 per year
Arizona: $107,618 per year
The salary also varies depending on the industry and organization one is working for. Among the highest-paying industries are aeronautics, electronic product manufacturing, transportation equipment manufacturing pharmaceuticals and nanotechnology. However, jobs in such industries are very competitive.
Higher and improves salary is possible through the acquisition of a higher degree such as a master’s degree or a doctorate. Higher degrees can even qualify you for a managerial position. Professional licenses and certification are also necessary.
- Providing Solutions to the World’s Problem
Mechanical engineers are problem-solvers. They apply their knowledge and skills toward providing solutions to some of the world’s challenges. Therefore, a mechanical engineering career affords one the opportunity to join a network of people providing solutions to global issues. The career focuses on the creation of technology that will solve some human problems. Ranging from healthcare, food production, energy, and transportation to climate change; mechanical engineers are imparting the world.
- Mechanical Engineers are versatile
We are living at a time when science and technology have become an interdisciplinary venture. Professions that are not versatile are gradually going extinct. A mechanical engineering degree equips students with the ability to collaborate and practice in different industries. The versatile nature of this career makes it easy for the professionals to fits into sectors of the economies and function well. These sectors could be a government agency, academics or industry.
Best 10 paying Jobs in Mechanical Engineering
Automation engineers are involved in the design, building and maintenance of self-running machines and processes. They work in synergy with clients to develop the system or process being automated. Automation engineer creates designs, develop the process, test run the programs and maintains the system. They sometimes deploy robotics in operation.
Automation engineers’ target is to meet the safety and regulatory guidelines of the industry. Maintaining product quality through reproducibility of the process is very important. This demands carefulness, good timing and precision and accuracy. The operations of manufacturing industries, chemical/pharmaceutical and food processing industries usually require the services of an automation engineer.
A bachelor’s or master’s degree with years of experience is often the requirement for such a position. An automation engineer earns on average $90,024 per year
Research and development engineers are innovators who create new manufacturing processes and products. They inject new ideas into production after painstaking research. They upgrade existing processes to increase productivity, efficiency and profitability. Their work is to design and create prototypes for new processes. The prototypes are developed, made efficient and commercialized. Research and development engineers are innovative individuals with analytical skills and with an interest in problem-solving.
Research and development engineers may need only a bachelor’s or master’s degree depending on the sector. However, industries such as aerospace, nautical and radar may need a PhD. Research and development engineers earn a decent pay of about $92,781 per year.
Senior mechanical engineers are production engineers that work mostly on the production of new mechanical devices. The team plan, design and develop new mechanical products such as circuit boards, sensors and electrical systems. They can also be involved design and implementation of production processes and products. They possess the ability to conceptualize products description and provide tailor-made solutions. Execute projects to specification with due diligence in testing the products to ensure safety and conformity to standards. They carry out reviews on existing products with a view to upgrading them.
The minimum qualification for senior mechanical engineers is a bachelor’s degree with at least 5 years of working experience. They also usually need a PE (Principals and Practice of Engineering) certification. The average annual salary of senior mechanical engineers is $99,376.
4. Mechanical Engineering Technicians
Mechanical engineering technicians are involved in the installation, troubleshooting, and maintenance designs created by engineers. They typically work under the supervision of an engineering technologist. Mechanical engineering technicians also review instructions and blueprints to ensure that procedures follow test specifications and meet objectives. A bachelor of degree is needed; the annual pay is about $58,230.
Powertrain engineers are engineers that work in the automotive industry. They design and improve the appearance and quality of automobiles. They develop high-performance engines and other features of an automobile. The powertrain engineers develop the electrical components and software to meet modern-day vehicles standard. Powertrain engineers work with a range of automobiles including motorcycles, buses, luxury cars and commercial vehicles, like box trucks and semi-trucks.
Their work scope is related to the building of automobiles that meets modern-day requirements in terms of energy consumption and environmental friendliness. They are also responsible for making sure that vehicles meet government emissions and safety requirements.
Powertrain engineers usually have a bachelor’s degree but a master’s degree could increase earning potential. They collect an average salary of $102,363 per year
Instrumentation engineers’ speciality is building monitoring equipment and controls engineering systems. They design, build, test, install, manage and maintain equipment that ensures other engineering systems work correctly. They understand the working of many mechanical systems and how to optimize the systems to improve performance. They measure mechanical variables of machines and ensure it is within the acceptable limits to guarantee the health and safety of the operators.
Instrumental engineers offer consultancy services in the form of advice in respect of systems instrumentation, processes and equipment. Instrumentation engineers also develop computer programs and build mechanical systems which can run such programs. They give a periodic assessment of the state of facilities along with professional advice on best maintenance practices. They can be involved in purchasing, operations and changing processes. Instrumentation engineers ply their trade in different sectors, including nuclear and renewable energy, environmental agencies and quality control commissions.
The requirements for the position of an instrumentation engineer depend on the industry. A bachelor’s may be enough but a master’s degree will give you a competitive advantage. $107,881 is the median salary of an instrumentation engineer.
A corrosion engineer is an expert who oversees the control of the menace of corrosion in an industry. The use of metals as engineering materials often poses a huge challenge to corrosion control of the facility. A corrosion engineer coordinates the activities to prevent and repair corrosion on industrial machinery and infrastructure in a facility. Infrastructures prone to corrosion include metal bridges, oil and gas pipelines, mines, and waste management facilities. Although closely related to metallurgy, corrosion engineering can address issues in non-metallic objects, such as ceramics, carbon, graphite, and cement. The duties and responsibilities of a corrosion engineer include fieldwork repair and experimental lab work to determine the best strategy for combating corrosion.
A corrosion engineer needs a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in corrosion control. A master’s degree will be an added advantage. A professional within this field earn about $92,000-$195,000 per year
The design and development of biomedical supplies and utility is the purview of a biomedical engineer. They develop technologies for biomedical use. Such biomedical supplies include prostheses, artificial tissues, surgical equipment etc. they also develop other pieces of technology used to replace body parts or aid patients with physical disabilities. They work in collaboration with biological scientists to develop new technology and deploy it for clinical trials.
A degree in mechanical engineering plus a master’s in biomedical engineering is a prerequisite. The individual must possess appropriate certification with many years of experience. The salary for a worker in this position is estimated at about $85,500-$109,000 per year
9. Mechanical Engineering Technologists
A mechanical engineering technologist is a charge of creating designs and incorporating new technology into existing designs. They are team leaders who supervise mechanical engineering technicians during the installation of systems and equipment. The requirement is a bachelor’s degree. Their enumeration is $58,900 annually.
10. Associate Mechanical Engineer
An associate mechanical engineer is one who is savvy in the use of CAD. S/he uses this knowledge and skill to create electrical and product designs for new products. Associate mechanical engineers are also tasked to perform tests on new methods and equipment. Their average annual salary is $69,370 and requires a bachelor’s degree.
As the human need for applying principles and techniques in solving design and engineering problems ever increases, so will job opportunities in the mechanical engineering industry expand.
We’re hopeful that reading this post thus far has given you the cogent reason to consider mechanical engineering a good career path.