Mechanical engineers work in a wide and diverse range of fields and disciplines. They can design, analyze, test, and install mechanical devices or systems. Many mechanical engineers are also involved in the research and development such things as of aircraft, medical devices, and other machinery.
A person seeking to become a mechanical engineer should first consider if they have the characteristics and qualities needed to succeed in this career path. To do well in this profession, a person should be a creative problem solver, detail-oriented, and be able to comfortably think in mathematical terms. He or she should also have good communication skills and work well in a team.
If you want to become a mechanical engineer, and feel you have the basic characteristics necessary for the job, the next step is to learn about the requirements needed for this career path. The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Admissions to an undergraduate program will require students to have a good background in mathematics and the sciences.
In the U.S., most students can obtain this undergraduate degree by enrolling in an accredited full time or part time program of study. These programs usually take between four and five years to complete. To be accredited, mechanical engineering programs must meet certain quality standards set for the profession by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This ensures that graduating students have competency in mechanical engineering core subjects.
To get a job as a mechanical engineer, you will be required to take many other courses in addition to core engineering topics. During the first two years of study, students will take introductory courses in a variety of fields such as computing, chemistry, social sciences and the humanities. Physics and math courses that include advanced calculus, and partial differential equations are also essential. In the last two years of study, students concentrate on subjects like vibrations, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, solid mechanics, thermodynamics, and stress analysis.
When a mechanical engineering student earns his or her degree, he or she can choose from a broad range of entry-level mechanical engineering jobs that can include technical sales, manufacturing or robotics. Once you get a job as a mechanical engineer, advancement in most disciplines will depend on technical knowledge, work experience, and in some cases obtaining a license or postgraduate degree.
Some mechanical engineers may decide to become licensed in their fields. To obtain a license, an engineer has to have a certain amount of work experience and must pass a series of tests. The first exam is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE). Most people who want to become a mechanical engineer and planned to get licensed in the future are urged to take this test before graduating or right after graduating. Once an engineer has a number of years of work experience, he must take and pass the Principle and Practice of Engineering (PE) test to get licensed.
After you become a mechanical engineer, another way to advance in your field may be to obtain a postgraduate degree. Depending on your career path, there are various masters and doctoral degree programs available. For example, a mechanical engineer with a doctorate in engineering may pursue a career in either research or academia.