One of the broadest disciplines in engineering, mechanical engineering focuses on the design, development, research, testing, and manufacturing of tools, engines, and mechanical devices. Their work is crucial to most of the machines that have come to define modern society, from internal combustion engines to power drills to robots.
Mechanical Engineering Degrees:
Like most engineering disciplines, mechanical engineers usually require a bachelor''s degree for entry into the field. If you are interested in research or teaching, you might even explore the possibility of securing a master''s degree or higher to be more competitive in the job market. For engineers working on public projects, local, state, or federal licensing tests are required.
Mechanical Engineering Coursework:
Coursework focuses on mathematics, statistics, physics, solid mechanics, instrumentation and measurement, thermodynamics, heat transfer, energy conversion, fluid mechanics and dynamics, hydraulics and pneumatics, and drafting (CAD/CAM). And given mechanical engineering''s close relationship with the manufacturing industry, your career training should also encompass production, business management, and design as well. Thereafter, you can specialize in additional subcategories. Aerospace engineering, for example, has many ties with mechanical engineering, and you could have extensive overlap if flight design is something that interests you career-wise. Other specialty fields include robotics, logistics, cryogenics, optics, biomechanics, fuel technology, and automotive engineering.
Online Mechanical Engineering Career Training:
Because so much of mechanical engineering requires hands-on experience with moving parts and engines, online degrees aren''t always well suited for this particular discipline. If you do decide to purse distance learning, be sure to supplement your career training with sufficient internship experience or apprenticeships to bolster your theoretical knowledge with real-world practical knowledge. Doing so can make you a better employment prospect down the road. You might also consider the benefits of extensive IT training. As nanotechnology continues to make inroads within the larger manufacturing industry, an understanding of computer systems and micro-technology could prove beneficial.
Careers in Mechanical Engineering:
Mechanical engineers work in industries like aeronautics, bioengineering, cryogenics, heat transfer, medicine, manufacturing, and defense. Typically, a mechanical engineer works with machines such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, turbines, and boilers. Of the fifteen most popular engineering fields, mechanical engineering is second only to civil engineering. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 227,000 mechanical engineers reported in 2006 (out of 1.5 million total engineering jobs).
Salary and Career Outlooks for Mechanical Engineering:
Job prospects in mechanical engineering are expected to grow more slowly than the national average due to globalization and international competition. This trend only highlights the importance of advanced education. With career training at the graduate level, you can better insulate yourself from slowed industry growth. Salary potential, on the other hand, is quite encouraging. In 2006, the median income for mechanical engineers was $70,000, with the upper ten percent earning almost $105,000.