Mechanical Engineer Career Path
How To Become a Mechanical EngineerMechanical engineers design machines ranging from medical devices to large geothermal systems. If you are detail-oriented and love solving problems, a career as a mechanical engineer might be right for you. In this article, we discuss the eight steps required to become a mechanical engineer:
Earn a degree in mechanical engineering.
Most entry-level mechanical engineering jobs require a four-year degree in mechanical engineering. There are two ways to earn your degree:
- Bachelor's degree: Look for four-year programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Coursework typically includes advanced math, design, engineering principles, and physical sciences.
- Associate's degree: You can also earn a two-year associate's degree in mechanical engineering technology and find work as a mechanical drafter. You can then transfer to a four-year college and complete the final two years of coursework for a four-year mechanical engineering degree.
What type of degree should you pursue to become a Mechanical Engineer?
78% of people working as a Mechanical Engineer earned a Bachelor's Degree
What skills do you need to be a Mechanical Engineer?
- CAD Software
- Siemens NX
- Security Clearance
- Written Communication
- 3D CAD
Complete an internship or cooperative work experience.
Most four-year mechanical engineering programs include an internship or cooperative (co-op) work program during the senior year of study. Internships are typically unpaid, but students in a co-op earn a wage. Internships and cooperative work programs offer valuable work experience and the opportunity to make professional connections.
Pass the fundamentals of engineering (FE) exam.
Take the FE exam after the completion of your bachelor's degree program. After passing the FE exam, engineers are known as engineer interns (EI) or engineers-in-training (EIT). Passing the FE exam allows you to work as an entry-level mechanical engineer.
Find entry-level employment using resources such as academic advisors and career fairs.
Mechanical engineers can find entry-level employment through their academic advisors, job boards, and career fairs. Professional engineering organizations, such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, also provide career advice.
Become licensed as a professional engineer (PE).
Licensure as a PE is not usually a requirement for an entry-level mechanical engineering position. Earning a PE license allows you to lead teams of engineers, work with the public, and sign off on large-scale projects. To become a licensed engineer, you must:
- Earn a degree from an engineering program accredited by ABET.
- Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.
- Have at least four years of relevant work experience.
- Pass the Professional Engineering exam.
Obtain specialty certifications such as project management and assistive design.
Although not necessary for work as a mechanical engineer, specialty certifications can help you advance in your career. Certifications are available in many subject areas, including medicine, environmentally friendly home design, and management. Examples of specialty certifications include:
- Assistive design.
- Test and balance engineering.
- Human-computer interaction.
- Human factors in data science.
- Human factors in medical devices and systems.
- Project management.
- Engineering management fundamentals.
- Residential geothermal design.
Seek advanced degrees, such as an MBA.
A master's or doctorate is required to work in research or teach engineering at the college level. A master's in business administration (MBA) can help engineers advance into management positions.
Renew your license.
Several states require yearly continuing education to maintain your PE license. Online engineering classes, attendance at engineering conferences, and continuing education seminars fulfill continuing education requirements.
Mechanical Engineer Career Path
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