How to Become a Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical Engineer Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $96,930
Avg. Pay / hour $46.60
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 4%

A mechanical engineer researches, designs, and builds a range of mechanical devices such as tools, engines, and machinery.

If you are technically minded and good at mathematics then you might like to become a mechanical engineer.

Mechanical engineering is a broad field that offers many career possibilities.

Many mechanical engineers work in manufacturing, where they design new pieces of machinery and tools.

They could work to create turbines, electric generators, and engines.

Some mechanical engineers work in agriculture, where they develop better farming techniques and tools.

Education Requirements to Become a Mechanical Engineer

To become a mechanical engineer you will need to complete a four year mechanical engineering degree .

While your first year of college will involve general engineering subjects, at second year you can opt to specialize in mechanical engineering.

During your time at college you might like to become involved in any engineering related clubs on campus.

They often work on projects which can help you to gain experience as an engineer.

You could also offer to volunteer as a research assistant for your professor’s research projects.

After you have finished college, there are a few more requirements you need to meet to become a mechanical engineer.

In all states you will need to become licensed to work as an engineer.

The exact requirements in each state differ, but for the most part you will need to take an exam which will test you on the principles of engineering.

Mechanical Engineer Job Description

When you become a mechanical engineer, you’ll be working to develop and build many different kinds of machinery.

Tools, engines, and advanced machinery are all first designed by a mechanical engineer.

They even design tools that help other kinds of engineers to do their work.

Most mechanical engineers will begin a project with a brief.

Their role may be to design a new piece of machinery, or improve an existing one.

They will come up with a design that will then be approved by a client.

After approval, a mechanical engineer will work to develop a prototype where a range of testing will then occur.

After the initial testing phase, a mechanical engineer may go back to their drawings to make improvements or changes to their initial design.

Some mechanical engineers work in the field of maintenance.

For instance, they may work for an airline, where they are on hand to analyze faults in an aircraft and make any required remedies.

Here are some of the tasks of a mechanical engineer:

  • Analyze a brief
  • Research a new projects
  • Create drafts and designs for new projects
  • Design review and approval
  • Create models and prototypes
  • Test new machinery
  • Communicating with clients and colleagues
  • Maintaining equipment
  • Conducting safety checks of new designs

Mechanical Engineer Salary and Career Path

When you become a mechanical engineer, you will start out your career working under the supervision of a qualified engineer.

You will usually do this for around two years.

After this you will be given more responsibilities and be able to supervise your own projects.

Some mechanical engineers may go on to become project managers, or work within other managerial roles.

Some go on to technical sales positions.

The median wage for a mechanical engineer is $75,000 a year.

While there is some growth predicted in this field, it is expected to be slower than the average for all occupations.

For more information on a career as a mechanical engineer, have a look at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers website.

Some similar roles to that of mechanical engineer include:

  • Civil engineer
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Mathematician
  • Drafter
  • Surveyor
  • Sales engineers
  • Computer scientists

If you’re a practical person who has great technical ability as well as an aptitude for academics, then you might like to become a mechanical engineer.

This is an area that can bring great job satisfaction, as you are able to see you finished project, and watch it improve the lives of others.

A good salary is available, as well as stable and secure employment for those with the right qualifications.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$113,840
New Hampshire$98,140
New Jersey$96,410
New Mexico$120,040
New York$97,040
North Carolina$88,610
North Dakota$85,490
Rhode Island$101,320
South Carolina$87,260
South Dakota$83,420
West Virginia$94,220
Puerto Rico$69,800

The top earning state in the field is New Mexico, where the average salary is $120,040.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New Mexico - $120,040
Louisiana - $119,380
District of Columbia - $113,840
California - $113,130
Alaska - $111,850
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Mechanical Engineers, OCC Code 17-2141, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a mechanical engineer?

Mechanical engineers research, design, build and test mechanical devices, such as tools, engines, and machines.

They use computers extensively to create and analyze designs, but also to run simulations that test how a machine will work in certain circumstances.

Usually, mechanical engineers specialize in a certain field, such as auto research, heating, and cooling systems or robotics.

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

Mechanical engineers need a variety of skills, including creativity, math, and mechanical skills, problem-solving skills, and listening skills.

How much does a mechanical engineer make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for mechanical engineers was $87,370, as of May 2018.

A mechanical engineer’s salary depends on many factors, including the employer, the engineer’s expertise and his or her level of experience.

For instance, engineers working in machinery manufacturing earned a median annual wage of around $80,000, while those employed in scientific research earned approximately $100,000 a year.

How much does it cost to become a mechanical engineer?

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or a related field.

The Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology is the institution that approves bachelor’s degree programs in engineering.

The average annual out-of-state tuition for bachelor’s degree programs in mechanical engineering is around $42,400.

Costs depend on the program and the college you choose.

Those who sell their services publicly must also be licensed.

In order to get your license, you will have to pay an exam fee that is around $350 in most states.

What is the demand for mechanical engineers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for mechanical engineers is expected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028.

As a mechanical engineer, you can work in many industries and on a variety of projects; the number of jobs available depends on the local economy and the industry you are targeting.

Engineers who have experience with creating virtual simulations or with three-dimensional printing have the best job prospects.

How long does it take to become a mechanical engineer?

Mechanical engineers typically need a four-year bachelor’s degree approved by ABET in mechanical engineering or a related field.

Some universities or colleges also offer 5-year programs that lead to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

Those who sell their services publicly must also be licensed in all states.

In order to become a licensed Professional Engineer, you will need around four years of experience working under the supervision of an experienced engineer.

Some licensing boards may have additional requirements for taking the licensing exam.

If you want to work in research or you want to teach, you will also need a graduate degree.

A Ph.D. in mechanical engineering can typically be obtained in 3-5 years.

Mechanical engineers may complete additional courses during their careers to learn new technologies and to enhance their project management skills.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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