Mechanical engineers design, build, or improve and rebuild machines, tools, mechanical equipment and other industrial devices used in production. They are also involved in the design of consumer products coming off those production lines such as kitchen appliances, certain parts of an automobile, and other transportation devices. They design both the power delivery and the mechanical functions of factory robots, escalators and similar automated machines.
A bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering is necessary for entry into the field. A few years of working under an experience mechanical engineer is necessary for a full license in most states. In some fields such as robotics, the speed of new developments requires mechanical engineers to work at staying current in the field.
There were 227,000 mechanical engineers working in the U.S. in 2006. It is the second most common engineering specialty in the workplace. Mechanical engineers are involved in both ends of the manufacturing spectrum: the production process and design of the end products. Some mechanical engineers work in the sales field for firms that build automated manufacturing equipment or machinery that is used in the medical field such as imaging equipment.
Mechanical engineering is one of the job categories that is expected to be hit hard by the further decline of manufacturing in the U.S. The profession is expected to grow at less than half the projected average rate of job growth overall.
Lowest 10% $47,900
Median Salary $74,920
Highest 10% $114,740
Source: U.S. Department of Labor