Mechanical Engineer

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Job Outlook:
Much faster than average
Education: Bachelor's degree
Salary
High: $151,260.00
Average: $100,820.00
Hourly
Average: $48.47

What they do:

Perform engineering duties in planning and designing tools, engines, machines, and other mechanically functioning equipment. Oversee installation, operation, maintenance, and repair of equipment such as centralized heat, gas, water, and steam systems.

On the job, you would:

  • Read and interpret blueprints, technical drawings, schematics, or computer-generated reports.
  • Research, design, evaluate, install, operate, or maintain mechanical products, equipment, systems or processes to meet requirements.
  • Confer with engineers or other personnel to implement operating procedures, resolve system malfunctions, or provide technical information.

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 principles and discoveries and use them to design and build useful products.

Personality

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

95% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
93% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
91% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
87% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
86% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
86% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
81% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
78% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
76% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
74% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
74% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
73% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
73% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
72% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Strengths

95% Investigative  -  Work involves studying and researching non-living objects, living organisms, disease or other forms of impairment, or human behavior. Investigative occupations are often associated with physical, life, medical, or social sciences, and can be found in the fields of humanities, mathematics/statistics, information technology, or health care service.
89% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

78% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
72% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
72% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
70% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
61% Relationships  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
61% Support  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.

Aptitude

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

75% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
75% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
75% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
72% Mathematical Reasoning  -  The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
72% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
72% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
72% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
69% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
66% Number Facility  -  The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

70% Reading Comprehension  -  Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
70% Mathematics  -  Using mathematics to solve problems.
68% Complex Problem Solving  -  Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
66% Science  -  Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
66% Operations Analysis  -  Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.

Job Details

Responsibilities
Review technical documents to plan work.
Confer with other personnel to resolve design or operational problems.
Confer with technical personnel to prepare designs or operational plans.
Analyze design or requirements information for mechanical equipment or systems.
Recommend technical design or process changes to improve efficiency, quality, or performance.
Direct installation activities.
Direct equipment maintenance or repair activities.
Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
Recommend technical design or process changes to improve efficiency, quality, or performance.
Direct industrial production activities.
Determine operational methods.
Direct equipment maintenance or repair activities.
Coordinate safety or regulatory compliance activities.
Document technical design details.
Identify new applications for existing technologies.
Design electronic or computer equipment or instrumentation.
Estimate operational costs.
Design industrial processing systems.
Direct installation activities.
Evaluate plans or specifications to determine technological or environmental implications.
Advise others regarding green practices or environmental concerns.
Select tools, equipment, or technologies for use in operations or projects.
Install production equipment or systems.
Evaluate characteristics of equipment or systems.
Design industrial processing systems.
Design industrial equipment.
Investigate system, equipment, or product failures.
Recommend technical design or process changes to improve efficiency, quality, or performance.
Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
Create models of engineering designs or methods.
Implement design or process improvements.
Estimate operational costs.
Prepare proposal documents.
Supervise production or support personnel.
Perform marketing activities.
Advise customers on the use of products or services.
Research industrial processes or operations.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

98% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
93% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
90% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
87% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
86% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
86% Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets  -  How much does this job require wearing common protective or safety equipment such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets?
84% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
83% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
80% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
79% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
79% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
72% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
71% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
70% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
85% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

89% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
85% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
82% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
80% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
79% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
78% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
72% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
71% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
71% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
70% Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment  -  Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
69% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
67% Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information  -  Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
66% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

What Mechanical Engineers Do

Mechanical engineers
Computer technology helps mechanical engineers create and analyze designs.

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
  • Investigate equipment failures or difficulties to diagnose faulty operation and to recommend remedies
  • 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 engineering is one of the broadest engineering fields. 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.

The following are examples of types of mechanical engineers:

Auto research engineers seek to improve the performance of cars. These engineers work to improve traditional features of cars such as suspension, and they also work on aerodynamics and new possible fuels.

Heating and cooling systems engineers work to create and maintain environmental systems wherever temperatures and humidity must be kept within certain limits. They develop such systems for airplanes, trains, cars, schools, and even computer rooms.

Robotic engineers plan, build, and maintain robots. These engineers plan how robots will use sensors for detecting things based on light or smell, and they design how these sensors will fit into the designs of the robots.

Work Environment

Mechanical engineers held about 286,100 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of mechanical engineers were as follows:

Architectural, engineering, and related services 20%
Machinery manufacturing 15
Transportation equipment manufacturing 10
Scientific research and development services 8
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 7

Mechanical engineers generally work in offices. They may occasionally visit worksites where a problem or piece of equipment needs their personal attention. In most settings, they work with other engineers, engineering technicians, and other professionals as part of a team.

Work Schedules

Most mechanical engineers work full time and some work more than 40 hours a week.

Getting Started

Education:
83%
Bachelor's Degree
7%
Associate's Degree (or other 2-year degree)

How to Become a Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineers
Mechanical engineers analyze problems to see how a mechanical device might help to solve them.

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 technologies. Mechanical engineering programs usually include courses in mathematics and life and physical sciences, as well as engineering and design. 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.

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 gaining work experience.

Job Outlook

Employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 19,200 openings for mechanical engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Mechanical engineers work in a range of industries and on many types of projects. As a result, employment growth for these workers varies by industry.

As manufacturing processes incorporate more complex automation machinery, mechanical engineers are expected to be needed to help plan for and design this equipment.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about general engineering education and mechanical engineering career resources, visit

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

American Society for Engineering Education

Technology Student Association

For more information about accredited engineering programs, visit

ABET

For more information about licensure as a mechanical engineer, visit

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying

National Society of Professional Engineers

For information about certification, visit

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Occupational Requirements Survey

For a profile highlighting selected BLS data on occupational requirements, see

Mechanical engineers (PDF)

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of mechanical engineers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Drafters Drafters

Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings.

Associate's degree $60,400
Materials engineers Materials Engineers

Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a wide range of products.

Bachelor's degree $100,140
Mathematicians Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.

Master's degree $99,960
Mechanical engineering technicians Mechanical Engineering Technologists and Technicians

Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians help mechanical engineers design, develop, test, and manufacture machines and other devices.

Associate's degree $61,990
Natural sciences managers Natural Sciences Managers

Natural sciences managers supervise the work of scientists, including chemists, physicists, and biologists.

Bachelor's degree $144,440
Petroleum engineers Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface.

Bachelor's degree $131,800
Physicists and astronomers Physicists and Astronomers

Physicists and astronomers study the interactions of matter and energy.

Doctoral or professional degree $139,220
Sales engineers Sales Engineers

Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses.

Bachelor's degree $108,530
Nuclear engineers Nuclear Engineers

Nuclear engineers research and develop projects or address problems concerning the release, control, and use of nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal.

Bachelor's degree $122,480

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.