Getting a Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is one of the many different engineering degrees you could choose to study. It is all about the study of objects and systems in motion, touching every aspect of modern life. It is one of the oldest of the engineering disciplines, combining engineering, physics, and mathematics.

While studying mechanical engineering you would learn and use tools such as CAD (computer-aided design), CAM (computer-aided manufacturing), industrial equipment, and machinery, heating and cooling systems, transport systems, watercraft, robots, and more.

Mechanical engineering first emerged during the Industrial Revolution in Europe in the 18th century. It has centered on creating technologies to meet human needs. As a mechanical engineer, you would work in offices, visit worksites, or even work in research and development.

Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Getting an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering would be a good way to prepare for a bachelor’s or to assist engineers in that type of role. The degree will take you about two years and you should be able to find both online and in-person programs.

While getting your associate’s degree you would most likely take classes in physics, chemistry, math, and calculus to help prepare you for bachelor’s level work in the future.

Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Most employers hiring for mechanical engineering related jobs will want people with at least a bachelor’s degree from an ABET (Accredited Board for Engineering and Technology) institution. You would probably take classes in intermediate and advanced mathematics, life and physical sciences, engineering and design, CAD, fluid mechanics, terminal design, magnetism and aerodynamics, and circuits. A bachelor’s degree should take you four years total, two years if you have already received your associate’s degree.

You should be able to find either an in-person or online bachelor’s degree program to study mechanical engineering. For online programs, The University of Alabama, Old Dominion University, and Indiana State University all have highly rated programs. For in-person programs, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Brown University all have highly rated programs.

Jobs For Those With a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering

  •  Design Engineers, who use CAD software to develop, test, and improve manufacturing processes and product designs, have an average salary of $74,298, according to Glassdoor as of June 2020.
  • Aerospace Engineers, who work on the development of aircraft, spaceships, satellites, and weapon systems, have an average salary of $79,714, according to Glassdoor, as of June 2020.
  • Robotics Engineers, who are responsible for creating robots and robotic systems for tasks that humans can’t or have a hard time doing, have an average salary of $75,487, according to Glassdoor as of June 2020.

Master’s Degrees

A master’s degree in mechanical engineering can be a good idea for those who want to pursue a more professional type of job. Some of the courses you might take would be in statistics and mechanics of materials, mechanical engineering dynamics, and intro to mechanics. A master’s degree should take you around two years to achieve.

You should be able to find either an in-person or online master’s degree program to study mechanical engineering. For online programs, Stanford University, The University of Florida, and the Georgia Institute of Technology all have highly rated programs. For in-person programs, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Berkeley all have highly rated programs.

Jobs For Those With a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering:

  • Petroleum Engineers, who design equipment used to extract gas and oil from offshore and onshore reserves deep underground, have an average salary of $104,917, according to Glassdoor, as of June 2020.
  • Nuclear Engineers, who research and develop the processes instruments and systems used to derive benefits from nuclear energy and radiation, have an average salary of $77,122, according to Glassdoor, as of May 2020.
  • Process Development Engineers, who are responsible for designing and developing processes to optimize process flow, reduce variability within the process, improve operating capabilities, and help ensure workers’ safety, have an average salary of $78,496, according to Glassdoor as of June 2020.

Doctorate Degrees

If you do decide to go on for your doctorate in mechanical engineering, you can take your career even further and it will give you the ability to make more money overall. You would study subjects such as fluid mechanics and dynamics, hydraulics, and mechanism design.

Related Majors: Nuclear engineering, materials engineering, and mineral engineering.

Licensing: Mechanical engineers do need to earn licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE) in all 50 states. The requirements would be to have a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution accredited by ABET and work experience under a licensed engineer. You must also pass the Fundamentals of Engineering and Principles and Practice of Engineering tests.

Mechanical Engineering Scholarships

Getting your degree in mechanical engineering means you can apply for certain scholarships that specialize in engineering or similar degrees. Here are a couple of them:

ASME Scholarship

This scholarship, from The American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation, is a grant made to a student to enable or assist the student in pursuing an educational program in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Students must have an ASME student membership, and they must be accepted and enrolled full-time in an ABET-accredited school for the entire academic year. The scholarships are around $10,000 and given to multiple students.

For more info, please go here.

The AESF Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship is available to undergraduates and graduates that are studying:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Material Science or Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metallurgical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemistry

They also need to be in junior status or above when applying and senior status in the fall. The awards are $1,500 each.

For more info, please go here.

For more scholarship info for veterans, service members and their families, please visit our Scholarships page.

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About the author

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Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.