Mechanical Engineer: Duties & Job Market

Gina L | November 24, 2008

Mechanical Engineer If you’re innovative and imaginative, a career as a mechanical engineer can allow you to bring your ideas to life. No need to worry about being pigeonholed in this field – a successful mechanical engineer can easily bounce between a wide variety of opportunities.

Duties of a mechanical engineer
Mechanical engineers use their knowledge of energy, materials, and mechanics to design new tools and products. Beyond that common thread, a mechanical engineer’s responsibilities can change from day to day and from job to job. A mechanical engineer may find work in electronics, aerospace, automotive technology, product development, and countless other industries – and their workload will vary accordingly. At one company, they may be responsible for researching the best materials for a particular product; at another, they may be responsible for testing prototypes and making design recommendations.

Where to find mechanical engineer jobs
Of all the engineering specialties, mechanical engineering offers the greatest degree of flexibility. The field of mechanics encompasses everything that involves motion – particles, robots, fluids, turbines, and so on – and job opportunities can be just as across-the-board. Manufacturing industries offer the most opportunities, and the government employs just over 10 percent of all engineers. Some mechanical engineers also find success working as technical sales representatives or managing a team of engineers.

Mechanical engineer programs
Most mechanical engineering positions require a bachelor’s degree in engineering from an accredited university. While many two-year colleges offer programs in mechanical drafting, mechanical engineering programs are far more comprehensive. In addition to completing hands-on projects, students can expect to learn scientific principles, business skills, and advanced problem-solving techniques. Graduate programs in mechanical engineering are also available, and mechanical engineers who offer their services directly with the public must be licensed Professional Engineers (PE), which can be achieved by passing a state exam.

Demand for mechanical engineer jobs
Manufacturing companies employ a large number of mechanical engineers, but outsourcing and economical slowdowns have contributed to fewer jobs in this sector. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects slower-than-average job growth between 2006 and 2016. Nonetheless, mechanical engineers with ground-breaking ideas and first-rate design skills will stand out from the pack and excel in this lucrative field.

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