Are you interested in working as a mechanical engineer?
This job is ideal for people who have technical skills and enjoy using math to solve complex problems. These professionals are in demand in several different industries, and there are lots of jobs to choose from. However, it takes a lot of time and focus to become fully trained and qualified to do this job. In addition to getting a formal degree, you also need to become licensed, which takes commitment and focus.
So, let’s take an in-depth look at how to become a mechanical engineer and exactly what this job involves.
- What Does A Mechanical Engineer Do?
- The Essential Skills
- Steps To Becoming A Mechanical Engineer
- Get A Bachelor’s Degree In Mechanical Engineering
- Different Types of Bachelor’s Degrees
- Different Types of Master’s Degrees
- The Benefits of Doctoral Degrees
- Specialized Areas Of Interest
- Online Degrees
- Online Study Guides For Your Exam!
- Final Thoughts
What Does A Mechanical Engineer Do?
This role mainly involves researching, designing, developing, and testing mechanical and thermal devices. This includes different types of tools, engines, and machines for the automated manufacturing, medical, and energy sectors. This role can take place in professional office settings, on worksites, or in laboratories.
Mechanical engineers usually work long hours, including overtime hours. They can be commissioned to use their expertise to design and implement special projects. There is a lot of scope for professional development, especially for people who have skills that are in demand.
The Essential Skills
Before you start mapping out your career path, you need to work out which skills you need to develop. While some of these skills will be taught during your training, others are personal skills and traits. Here are some of the key skills that all successful mechanical engineers need to have.
You will be charged with testing mechanical devices, systems, and products and making sure they are operating properly. When you discover issues, you need to work out the best way to resolve those issues. This may include inventing special systems and other elements to help a project run smoothly.
It is necessary to be able to think outside the box to develop innovative solutions. When appropriate solutions do not already exist, you are likely to have to create them from scratch.
You need to be able to explain complex information clearly and simply. This includes giving other workers instructions and giving presentations to employers. You also need to listen carefully to the needs of clients and translate those needs into workable plans.
You will often work closely as part of a team to brainstorm ideas and find the best possible option. It is important to be able to work well with people from all walks of life. When conflicts arrive, you need to be able to resolve them quickly and smoothly.
A strong understanding of mathematical principles like statistics and calculus is needed. You will use math on a regular basis when calculating the dimensions of different systems. It is important to be able to make calculations quickly and accurately.
Steps To Becoming A Mechanical Engineer
It’s now time to take a look at how to become qualified. If you are still in high school, you can focus on getting good grades in math, physics, and English. Here are the steps you can take to get qualified after graduating from high school.
Get A Bachelor’s Degree In Mechanical Engineering
Most entry-level roles in this industry call for a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. After completing a two-year pre-engineering degree, it is possible to find work as a mechanical drafter. After gaining a little work experience, you can then complete a four-year university degree.
When choosing a bachelor’s degree, make sure it is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The coursework should include both life and physical sciences, intermediate and advanced mathematics, engineering, and design. The course also includes practical experience using advanced computer-aided design in a computer lab.
Earn an Engineering License
Once you have a bachelor’s degree, you need a license before you can offer engineering services. You will need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, which is offered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.
Once you have four years of work experience in the field, you can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering. Once you pass, you will become a Professional Engineer and can work independently if you wish. In many states, you need to meet continuing education requirements to maintain your licensure.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers offers a range of certifications that prove your knowledge of mechanical engineering specialization. Although you don’t have to get a certification to start work, it can help you advance your career. Some specialist fields include advanced materials mechanics, advanced control systems design, convection heat transfer, and stress analysis.
Different Types of Bachelor’s Degrees
There are several different bachelor’s degrees you can take to set you on your career path. Each of these courses combine technical skills with practical experience and a range of knowledge. Let’s check out some of the most popular options and what each one involves.
Introduction to Engineering
This degree provides students with information on the engineering field, including the practical application of engineering principles. Students learn how to apply physics and math principles to their engineering projects and how to use special engineering software. Students also gain technical communication skills, including practice writing design reports.
During this course, students learn about the connection between engineering design and product manufacture and performance. This includes information on different assembly techniques and the overall product design process. Students also gain experience in using analysis and synthesis software.
This course provides information on the use of different metals in engineering and which ones to use. Students are taught how to choose the right metals for different projects such as alloying and heat treatment. The course also includes in-depth information on the unique design elements of different metals.
During this specialized course, students learn all about heat conduction as well as radiation transfer and convection. This includes a basic understanding of the key heat transfer equations and the application of heat transfer analysis techniques. Students are also taught how to use structured programming languages when conducting heat transfer analyses.
Different Types of Master’s Degrees
Completing a master’s degree is the perfect way to take your career to the next level. There are several different types of master’s degrees in the mechanical engineering field to choose from. Each one teaches advanced skills in a certain area that can match your chosen specialization. Here are some of the most popular master’s degrees that you can opt for.
This course is ideal for people who want to design and develop engineering products and includes the manufacturing process. Students learn to identify what makes a good product and how to draft designs for assembly. The course also includes details of supply chain management and the lifecycle of different types of engineering products.
Simulation Modeling and Experimentation
This course provides an overview of the key principles and phases of simulation modeling as well as project application. Students gain hands-on experience in using graphic simulation computer programs and creating simulation languages with simulation theory. The course also includes an explanation of common simulation systems, and students learn how to conduct simulation experiments.
Engineers who want to design and sell their own products will gain in-depth knowledge of patent laws. This helps students to design products that won’t result in patent infringement. This includes knowledge of which types of designs can be patented and how to protect the patents of inventions.
Engineering Project Management
This course is designed for engineers who want to advance their careers to become project managers. Students learn a range of project management strategies, including how to create a follow a project budget. Other key skills taught during this course include how to conduct risk assessment analysis and delegate tasks.
The Benefits of Doctoral Degrees
If you are ready to take your career to the next level, consider completing a mechanical engineering doctoral program. These degrees set you apart as an expert in your field and allow you to command a higher salary. Here are some of the key skills that you will learn during this type of degree.
The advanced research skills that are taught during these programs help students to understand complex scientific literature. Students learn how to plan and implement a research study and ensure that it yields satisfying results. The research element also includes analyzing, interpreting, and communicating findings clearly and concisely.
Advanced mathematics skills
Math skills are an essential part of the daily work of mechanical engineers, and doctoral degrees elevate these skills. During their program, students gain an advanced understanding of the core mathematical principles and how to apply them to engineering problems. This includes different types of advanced calculations, geometry, and calculus.
Another key element of these courses is enhancing the verbal and written skills of students. This helps them to communicate complex engineering principles to clients and members of their team. Key elements include details on how to write technical guides and reports and keep careful notes of different processes.
In order to become and remain an expert in the field, mechanical engineers need to access the latest knowledge. This includes a deep understanding of the latest tools and techniques that are used in the field. Students also learn how to remain informed about various classic mechanical engineering concepts.
Specialized Areas Of Interest
Another good way to advance on your career path is specializing in a particular area of mechanical engineering. This allows you to focus your specialist knowledge in a certain field and gain access to challenging and rewarding projects. Here are some of the key areas of expertise that you can focus on.
This specialization is perfect for people who have an interest in healthcare and improving people’s lives. These engineers use their advanced skills to design prosthetic limbs, surgical instruments, and artificial organs. They need to have a deep understanding of the body’s physiological systems and how to enhance them through engineering principles.
This specialization is aimed at product design and allows budding inventors to utilize their skills. These engineering professionals have a deep understanding of the lifecycle of devices and products. They can plan the development of a single product from the initial design all the way through to manufacturing.
People who are interested in helping to design and build transportation systems should specialize in this area. This includes designing improvements for existing transportation systems and making sure they are working safely and efficiently. These experts have a deep knowledge of propulsion, control, and vehicle dynamics.
If enrolling in college full-time is not an option, completing an online mechanical engineer course could be ideal. These special courses allow you to earn a salary and take care of other commitments while studying at your own pace. Here are some things to think about when you are choosing the right school and program.
First and foremost, you need to make sure the course you choose is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. This ensures that the course includes all of the most important elements for mechanical engineers. As well as an overview of safety concerns, ethics, and the fundamentals of engineering.
Make sure the course is focused on the area of the field you are most interested in. This is particularly important if you are planning on specializing in a particular area. Check out the course curriculum carefully for full details of the topics and areas that are covered.
Experiential learning opportunities
Make sure the course includes practical hands-on experience as well as instruction. This will help you work on the skills that you will use once you are fully qualified.
Online Study Guides For Your Exam!
For that all-important exam preparation, we recommend the Mechanical Engineering FE Exam Preparation Example Problems and Solutions, as well as the PPI FE Mechanical Practice Problems – Comprehensive Practice for the FE Mechanical Exam, and The EIT/FE Exam “HOW TO PASS ON YOUR FIRST TRY”: FastTrack: Over 330 Practice Problems! to help ace those exams.
And in regards to exam review manuals, we suggest using the FE Mechanical Review Manual, the FE Mechanical Review Manual with 750 Solved Problems, the PPI FE Review Manual: Rapid Preparation for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, and finally, the FE Mechanical Review Manual, all available online in 2023.
Additional study aids include the PPI Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual, 14th Edition – Comprehensive Reference Manual for the NCEES PE Exam, the FE Mechanical Practice Exam, along with the PPI Mechanical Engineering Practice Problems, 14th Edition – Comprehensive Practice Guide for the NCEES PE Mechanical Exam.
It takes several years and a lot of hard work to become qualified as a mechanical engineer.
In addition to gaining the right professional qualifications, you need to work on your personal skills. However, your hard work and dedication will be rewarded with an interesting career and a high salary.
The typical entry-level salary for this job is around $65,000 per year. Specializing in a particular field and gaining advanced qualifications can significantly boost your earning potential. For example, you can expect to earn at least $100,000 per year after just a few years as an automotive engineer.
Good luck in your new career as a Mechanical Engineer!