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How to Become a Mechanical Engineer

Bachelor's degree

Mechanical engineers determine problems with mechanical devices and propose solutions for solving them. Individuals who publicly sell services need to be licensed.

Education & Training

A bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering technology or mechanical engineering is necessary for most entry-level jobs in the mechanical engineering field.

Most mechanical engineering degree programs include classes in physical sciences, design courses, life sciences and engineering. The mechanical engineering technology programs focus on the practical application of engineering principals and less on theory. Typically, programs last approximately 4 years; however, many students take 4 to5 years to earn a degree. These programs often emphasize co-ops and internships to prepare students t o work in the industry.

Certain universities and colleges offer 5 year programs to enable students to receive a master's and a bachelor' degree simultaneously. Certain 5 or 6 year cooperative plans combine practical work and classroom study. This system allows students to gain vital experience and earn money during school to help finance a portion of their education.

Programs that are ABET accredited in mechanical engineering technology and mechanical engineering are most preferred. The majority of employers prefer to hire individuals who have graduated from an accredited program. In order to become a licensed P.E. or professional engineer, a degree from an ABET accredited program is commonly required.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Engineers offering their services to the public directly require a license. Professional engineers or P.E.s are designated as licensed mechanical engineers. The PE license typically needs a degree from an engineering program that is ABET accredited. An additional 4 years of appropriate work experience and passing an exam are also requirements.

Graduates begin their licensing process by taking their exam in two parts. The FE or Fundamentals of Engineering exam can be taken immediately after graduation and some people even take it prior to graduation. Those who pass this step are referred to as EIs or Engineer Interns or EITs, Engineers in Training. Once experience is gained, EITs can take the next exam known as the Principles and Practice of Engineering to become fully licensed as a PE.

Numerous places require engineers complete continuing education on a regular basis to renew licenses on an annual basis. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers provides a plethora of engineering certification programs for those who wish to demonstrate competency in certain fields.

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Creativity: Mechanical engineers are capable of building and designing complex pieces of machinery and equipment. This type of work requires a creative mind.

Listening skills: Mechanical engineers commonly work on projects with a variety of professionals and engineers including architects. They need to analyze and listen to a variety of approaches regarding their current task.

Math skills: Mechanical engineers rely on the principles of trigonometry, calculus and other advanced math topics to troubleshoot, design and analyze their work.

Mechanical skills: Mechanical skills enable engineers to apply basic mechanical processes and engineering concepts to the overall design of new devices.

Problem-solving skills: Mechanical engineers focus on scientific discoveries with the goal of transforming them into products that would be useful for governments, companies and individuals. Experience gained through a cooperative education program or university laboratory courses helps engineers to develop skills that are beneficial for addressing real issues.

How To Advance

Graduate education is vital for higher education engineering faculty positions. Certain research and development programs also require graduate level education. Experienced mechanical engineers may earn graduate degrees in business administration or engineering in order to broaden their education and learn new technology. Project management skills can be drastically enhanced with certain courses. Some individuals prefer to work as managers or administrators once they complete their graduate degree.