Mechanical Engineer Job Description, Job Requirements, and Salary

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If you're interested in a career as a mechanical engineer, it's important to start doing research early because you'll need a college degree that reflects your career aspirations. You'll also want to be informed about training and education requirements, the best colleges and universities for engineering majors, salary information, and the hiring outlook for mechanical engineers.

Education, Training, and Licensing Requirements 

A bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering (or mechanical engineering technology) is typically required in order to become hired as a mechanical engineer, no matter where you want to work. In order to grow your career and be promoted to a managerial position, most mechanical engineers also have a master's degree, or a higher education degree (such as a Ph.D.).

There are also licensing requirements in the United States. And, mechanical engineers who sell services must pass a state-specific exam to get a license in all 50 U.S. states and in the District of Columbia.

Salaries for Mechanical Engineers

According to the most recent figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mechanical engineers earned $85,880 on average in 2017. For those working on an hourly basis, mechanical engineers earned $41.29 per hour in 2017. 

The lowest 10% earned less than $55,310 while the highest 10% earned more than $133,900. 

The industries with the highest average salaries were scientific research and development services - $98,530, computer and electronic product manufacturing, $91,440, and architectural, engineering, and related services - $89,180.

Hiring Outlook for Mechanical Engineers 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a healthy hiring outlook for Mechanical Engineers and expects jobs to grow 9 percent between 2016 and 2016, as fast as the average for all occupations in the U.S. Job prospects will be best for those who stay abreast of the most current advances in technology due to the wide-spread use of computer-aided design.

Engineering service or consulting companies will experience faster than average growth as corporations contract out some engineering projects. 

Best Mechanical Engineering Companies to Work For 

Research the top mechanical engineering companies in order to get a sense of which employers hire the most mechanical engineers. When you're job searching, you can search for (and apply for) jobs directly on company websites as well as on job board websites.

If there are companies that you are specifically interested in, check the “career” or “jobs section” of that company's website to search for available positions. Be sure to check out the​ website on a daily basis because prime positions can disappear in the blink of an eye. You may also want to set up an email alert in order to get notified of new jobs as they are posted.

General Mechanical Engineer Job Description 

Mechanical engineers design, build, test, and modify mechanical devices such as tools, engines, and machines. Considered the broadest engineering discipline, mechanical engineers work in engineering services, research facilities, manufacturing industries, and the federal government.

Mechanical engineers also create and test prototypes of machines and equipment and oversee the installation of machinery and resolve problems once the systems are up and running. Techy in nature, mechanical engineers often use computer-aided design (referred to as CAD) packages to produce blueprints that contain the specifications for their projects. They also work on evaluating and testing designs and redesigning and upgrading systems.​

Examples of Job Descriptions for Advertised Mechanical Engineering Positions

Mechanical Engineer

  • Mechanical design of components for test rigs and other projects.
  • Generate engineering drawings for machining of various components as well as assembly drawings using Solidworks CAD package.
  • Connect with vendors for part machining.
  • Fabricate prototypes using in house 3D printing and desktop CNC machine.
  • Thermal and structural analysis of machine components and assemblies using spreadsheet or Matlab scripts. Develop various engineering tools and calculators.
  • Thermal and structural analysis of components using finite element analysis.
  • Conduct tests and post process data.
  • Write technical reports and presentations.
  • Learn various skills and grow professionally while working with a senior engineer.

Senior Mechanical Engineer

  • Leads mechanical engineering design efforts through concepting, design, BOM, assembly and detail drawings
  • Performs on-site analysis for data gathering prior to design
  • Develops design documentation aligned and traceable with project contractual requirements
  • Effectively delegates work to controls and mechanical engineers as needed
  • Interface with customer engineering and end-user contacts during project design and implementation cycle
  • Designs complex electromechanical assemblies using SOLIDWORKS and AutoCAD
  • Designs automated material handling equipment layouts using AutoCAD
  • Develops FAT and Field Installation documentation as required
  • Travels to site to support field efforts (10-15% travel required)
  • Ability to climb ladders, work at heights, and occasionally lift 25 lbs.

Junior Mechanical Engineer

  • Prepare engineering input data required for modeling and simulation of DoD ground vehicle and missile-defense systems.
  • Participate in test planning, execution, analysis, and documentation of component/system-level ballistic tests and controlled damage experimentation.
  • Conduct engineering analyses to identify, understand, quantify, and model the effects of threat-target interactions on ground mobile systems, subsystems, and components to include residual functions, capabilities, and performance.