Mechanical engineering comprises of the design, development, construction and evaluation of mechanical and thermal devices. Engineers in this field typically require a bachelor’s degree in either mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. In the U.S, all mechanical engineers who offer services to the public need to acquire the proper licensure. Mechanical engineers design and oversee the production of a wide array of items including medical devices, batteries, and power-producing machines. They also design machines used in buildings like elevators and escalators. Computer technology assists these engineers to develop and analyze designs, perform simulations and test how machines are likely to function.
Is mechanical engineering a good career? Yes, mechanical engineering is a good career because it has excellent job prospects and great starting salaries. Furthermore, mechanical engineering comes with global opportunities for work and it’s also at the forefront of creating new technologies.
Mechanical engineering is among the best engineering jobs in the world. It’s suitable for those who have an innate curiosity to know how things work. The most appealing part of a career in mechanical engineering is doing things that haven’t been done before. Engineers in this sector work on innovative and new design concepts to try and solve real-life problems. So, what are the benefits of studying mechanical engineering? What are the benefits of mechanical engineering to society? Is mechanical engineering a good career for the future? Is mechanical engineering hard? Read on for more details.
Is Mechanical Engineering a Good Career?
A mechanical engineering career allows one to build a better future for oneself and the world. That’s why most engineers have high rates of job satisfaction. Furthermore, mechanical engineering offers a bright future for job security. The shortage of qualified engineers also means higher wages and more options for individuals with proper qualifications.
Mechanical engineering also comes with plenty of choices for career progression. Many engineering graduates move on to further study. Ultimately, more qualifications and working experience result in more responsibility and greater salaries. A significant percentage of most successful corporations are led by people with a background in engineering e.g., General Motors.
Mechanical engineers have the skills and knowledge to make a real difference. They help to solve some of the hugest challenges facing humanity, such as climate change and cybersecurity. Additionally, they create inventions that revolutionize the world.
Becoming a mechanical engineer could also take one to some of the most interesting places on earth. Such places include oil rigs, deep seas, and deserts. Having qualifications and experience in this sector is like getting a passport to work in different industries and nations.
For those who are in the United States, here’s how to become a mechanical engineer:
- Attend a 4-year course in Mechanical Engineering at a higher learning institution and earn a bachelor’s degree
- Pursue a 2-year master’s program in Mechanical Engineering
- Gain professional mechanical engineering experience for 1-4 years
- Seek a professional engineer (PE) licensing in mechanical engineering. PE licensure acts as an indicator of excellent competence to customers, supervisors, and colleagues. However, the credential is not always mandatory to work in the engineering field.
- Look for organizational certification. Many organizations provide mechanical engineering certification including Associated Air Balance Council and Association for Facilities Engineering. The certification is a great way to validate skills, improve marketability, gain respect and develop confidence and credibility
- Consider a doctorate program. Getting a Ph.D. is worthwhile for those who enjoy research, desire to make significant advancements or want to teach future generations
To become a mechanical engineer in the UK, a person will generally require a degree in engineering. A course in mechanical engineering in a college or university takes 3-5 years. A master’s degree in engineering might also be necessary when applying for certain employment positions.
The job responsibilities of a mechanical engineer vary according to the size and type of organization. However, roles usually include:
- Evaluating project requirements
- Examining the performance of mechanical parts, devices and engines
- Setting budgets, timescales and specifications with management personnel and customers
- Maintaining and modifying machines to ensure they are safe, efficient and dependable
- Utilizing computer-aided design software
- Collaborating with suppliers
- Conducting relevant research
- Creating and implementing designs and examination procedures
- Testing, re-testing, assessing and modifying products
- Presenting designs concepts to managers and customers
- Offering technical advice
- Performing data analysis and interpretation
Mechanical engineers find employment in engineering, manufacturing, construction, transport, and research companies. They also find jobs in consultancies, utility firms, the civil service, government bodies and the armed forces. Moreover, self-employment through consultancy and contract work is a possibility for persons with several years of engineering experience.
Mechanical Engineering Salary USA and the UK
The average mechanical engineer salary in the United States is $69,847 (as of 2019) according to data by Payscale.com. Entry-level workers earn a starting salary of $61,538, which potentially increases to $67,052 after 1-4 years of experience. With working experience of 10-19 years, mechanical engineers earn $89,272 per year. Professionals with experience of 20 years or higher earn a wage of $99,667.
Mechanical engineers in the UK take home an average salary of £30,867 per year. Entry-level positions in this sector come with an average compensation of £26,056. With working experience of 1-4 years, a mechanical engineer can potentially take home £29,554 per annum. Engineers in late-career earn an average salary of £36,674.
Benefits of Studying Mechanical Engineering
- A Broad Range Of Academic Options
Some higher education programs have a very narrow focus that makes it hard for graduates to find employment. However, mechanical engineering is different with more breadth. It is one of the oldest, broadest and most versatile engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers can apply scientific and mathematical principles in producing designs that involve moving parts. The profession of mechanical engineering ranges from heating and cooling devices to robotic systems and from automobiles to escalators and lifts.
A typical degree program in this field includes coursework in science and mathematics as well as practical design. The students carry out research, lab projects, and hands-on fieldwork and also attend traditional classroom lectures. Specializations in mechanical engineering include applied mechanics, energy systems, design and manufacturing, biomechanical systems and automotive engineering.
- Diverse Career Options
After earning a bachelor’s degree, the opportunities in mechanical engineering are diverse. Professionals in this field are employed in large numbers in top industries like manufacturing, scientific research & development, and engineering services. Mechanical engineers work in both offices and on the field. In the office, they set up plans and develop engineering solutions using computers. On worksites, they work with machines to solve issues with equipment and processes.
- High Wages
Engineering is a profitable profession. Mechanical engineers earn excellent starting salaries, which increase over time with more experience. However, the salary potential depends on the industry of employment, academic qualifications, experience and other variables. Jobs in the machinery manufacturing sector typically offer lower salaries, whereas working in scientific research and development provides the highest salaries. Additionally, mechanical engineers with a master’s degree earn a lot more than their peers who have just a bachelor’s degree.
- Positive Job Outlook
The field of mechanical engineering is the second largest after civil engineering. Around 288,800 mechanical engineers work in the US and the BLS projects an increase of 9% in the next ten years. Mechanical engineering graduates are in high demand in automotive manufacturing, renewable energy, engineering services, nanotechnology and robotics industries. Gaining experience in three-dimensional printing and staying up-to-date with evolving software design and simulation tools may further enhance employment prospects.
Benefits of Mechanical Engineering to the Society
Without mechanical engineering, things such as engines, generators, lifts and air conditioning would not exist. Many of the items people use on a daily basis have been mechanically engineered.
Mechanical engineering plays a crucial role in manufactured technologies including vehicles, airplanes and refrigerators. It brings useful technologies to society to make it easier for humanity to perform many daily activities. Mechanical engineering is among the most essential branches of engineering since, without it, many modern technologies would not be available.
Is Mechanical Engineering Hard
A career in mechanical engineering offers plenty of positive opportunities. However, it’s not for everyone because of several reasons. For starters, it consists of numerous sub-categories, which are different from each other. Secondly, one needs to be innovative and possess critical thinking and analytical skills to succeed in mechanical engineering.
The coursework might also be difficult. Students who don’t have an aptitude for mechanical engineering may not push through to the end. It’s also easy to feel bored if one is not interested in the field. It’s an engineering field that uses large amounts of math; therefore it’s probably not ideal for those with problems in mathematics. In addition to the math, students of mechanical engineering also learn complicated subjects theoretically.
Moreover, in order to become an expert in the sector, a lot of hard work and years of experience are necessary. The job atmosphere for mechanical engineering is very competitive and opportunities for advancement don’t come easy. It’s hard for new graduates to land positions in good firms unless they come from renowned institutions or possess exceptional skills.
The working pressure for mechanical engineers is also immense. The projects they have to lead are sometimes massive with tight budgets. Significant failures can result in losses for a company or an increase in an organization’s insurance premiums.
Another drawback of a career in mechanical engineering is the unpredictability of the workload. An individual’s work might vary from one week to the next. For instance, in a manufacturing plant, a mechanical engineer may have to perform routine maintenance tasks one week and move on to a new project the following week. However, that may not be an issue for dynamic people. Only people who love routine work may find that trend cumbersome.
While mechanical engineering is hard, with continuous dedication and skill a person can excel and realize the numerous benefits.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.