Job opportunities for Mechanical Engineers

Career, Salary and Education Information

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal devices, including tools, engines, and machines.


Mechanical engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze problems to see how mechanical and thermal devices might help solve the problem
  • Design or redesign mechanical and thermal devices using analysis and computer-aided design
  • Develop and test prototypes of devices they design
  • Analyze the test results and change the design as needed
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for the device

Mechanical engineers design and oversee the manufacturing 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. Computers help mechanical engineers create and analyze designs, run simulations and test how a machine is likely to work, and generate specifications for parts.

Mechanical engineers held about 258, 100 jobs in 2012. They work mostly in manufacturing industries, architectural and engineering services, and research and development.

The industries employing the most mechanical engineers in 2012 were as follows:

Architectural, engineering, and related services 22%
Machinery manufacturing 14
Transportation equipment manufacturing 13
Computer and electronic product manufacturing
Fabricated metal product manufacturing

The rest are employed in general-purpose machinery manufacturing, automotive parts manufacturing, and testing laboratories.

Mechanical engineers generally work in professional office settings. 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 about one-third worked more than 40 hours a week in 2012.

Mechanical engineers need a bachelor's degree. A graduate degree is typically needed to conduct research. Mechanical engineers who sell services publicly must be licensed in all states and the District of Columbia.


Get the education you need: Find schools for Mechanical Engineers near you!

Nearly all entry-level mechanical engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology.

Mechanical engineering degree programs usually include courses in mathematics and life and physical sciences, as well as engineering and design courses. Mechanical engineering technology programs focus less on theory and more on the practical application of engineering principles. Programs typically last 4 years, but many students take between 4 and 5 years to earn a degree. Mechanical engineering degree programs may emphasize internships and co-ops to prepare students for work in industry.

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