How Do I Become a Mechanical Engineer?

If you excel in mathematics, develop creative solutions to problems and have a knack for working with mechanical devices, you might be wondering how to become a mechanical engineer. Mechanical engineers are the engineering professionals who create physical objects such as machines and tools. Some designs created by a mechanical engineer are simple, while others are complex, but all accomplish specific tasks and resolve obstacles to productivity. Mechanical engineers work with many kinds of technology on a daily basis, including computers used for the purposes of design, simulation and manufacturing.

Mechanical engineers are professional problem-solvers. They find work in many industries, such as architecture, research and development and manufacturing of aerospace parts, machinery and navigational instruments. They work in the private sector or as part of the federal government, and may spend time in office settings as well as laboratories.

Mechanical engineers don’t develop new devices and machines just for fun. Rather, they consider a problem from all of the possible angles and determine how to build a mechanical solution to that problem. They devise a design idea, sketch out blueprints and finally build a sample, or prototype, of the machine or device. They perform tests to find out how well the design will work to solve the problem, and they make any necessary adjustments to improve the design. Mechanical engineers must sometimes work with complex equipment, such as generators, manufacturing robots and machine tools.

To begin preparing for a career as a mechanical engineer, candidates should pursue a formal college education. A Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree from an accredited college or university is often enough to qualify aspiring mechanical engineers for entry-level positions within the field. Coursework typically includes advanced mathematics, along with courses in mechanical engineering and other disciplines of engineering. Laboratory research projects may play a large role in an engineering student’s education. Because graduate-level degrees can significantly enhance an engineer’s opportunities for future advancement, many students choose to earn a master’s degree, either right away, after working for a few years, or as part of a five-year program that combines undergraduate and graduate-level studies. Internship experiences are popular among mechanical engineering students, who can gain valuable experience working in their field while learning.

Mechanical engineers earn a median salary of $78,160 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Mechanical engineers working for certain industries can earn even higher wages. Those working in architecture earn a median annual salary of $82,210, those who design navigational instruments earn $83,310, those who focus in research and development earn $88,190 and those employed by the federal government bring home $91,910 per year, according to the BLS. If you have an interest in designing the mechanics of new devices, don’t mind working with number and equations and enjoy the challenge of solving problems, knowing how to become a mechanical engineer could be your first step toward a profitable new career in the dynamic field of engineering.

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