Is a Mechanical Engineering Degree Right for You?

A mechanical engineering degree is for you if you are interested in drawing from multiple scientific disciplines to solve real-world problems in industries like manufacturing, biomedical engineering, petroleum engineering, and more. Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering fields and incorporates complex concepts from physics, materials science, thermodynamics, and electricity. As a result, mechanical engineering students must be proficient in math and science, with the ability to synthesize and apply scientific information.

Historically, mechanical engineers focused on designing, developing, and testing mechanical devices. However, the broad scope of a mechanical engineering degree makes it possible to branch out from mechanical engineering specifically and explore a number of industries and occupations, from civil engineering to technology to biomechanics. If you want an engineering background that will afford you some versatility in your career path, a mechanical engineering bachelor’s is a solid choice.

Advice for Earning Your Mechanical Engineering Degree Online

Many mechanical engineering bachelor’s are available in online format, which can make online degrees a tempting option, particularly for working professionals. However, it is important to note that mechanical engineering relies heavily on the application of complex concepts, so a quality online program will incorporate projects and labs that allow students to practice this skill.

As a result, some of the best online degrees in mechanical engineering cannot be completed entirely online, as most will require on-campus lab work. For example, the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of North Dakota’s distance learning division provides online classes and recorded lectures as well as on-campus labs. It is also accredited by ABET, a nonprofit, non-governmental organizations that evaluates science and engineering education programs for standards of quality. In some cases, you may need to transfer your online credits to a four-year university to complete the necessary upper-level courses and lab requirements.

Required Courses

Online Mechanical Engineering degree programs typically include foundational courses in math, English, physics, and chemistry. Beyond the foundational courses, the curriculum will included classes in computer applications and advanced calculus. Major courses in mechanical engineering include:

  • Statics
  • Materials Science
  • Thermodynamics
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Circuit Analysis

Common Career Paths

Potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering include the following options:

Sales Engineers

  • Expected Growth: 14 %
  • Average Annual Salary: $99,260

Sales engineers sell sophisticated scientific or technical products and services to businesses. They must be able to explain the technical benefits of their product or service, which is where a broad engineering education is extremely helpful. Sales engineers can work in industries like oil and gas, defense, technology, manufacturing, and more.

This occupation is different from other engineering career paths because it also requires competencies in interpersonal communications, networking, and business in order to succeed. The salary and employment growth figures above were collected from the BLS, and represent median incomes. Actual sales engineer salaries vary greatly depending on individual sales performance.

Environmental Engineers

  • Expected Growth: 22%
  • Average Annual Salary: $84,020

Environmental engineers are in relatively high demand as concerns about the safety of the environment continue to rise. In this field, professionals with mechanical engineering backgrounds develop or refine systems that do not pose a threat to the environment or that solve environmental problems, such as water and air pollution, waste disposal, and more.

It requires a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field, such as environmental, chemical, or civil engineering, but mechanical engineering is applicable as well. The above figures were gathered from the BLS.

Biomedical Engineers

  • Expected Growth: 62%
  • Average Annual Salary: $88,340

Biomedical engineering is an increasingly popular field for mechanical engineering graduates and one of the fastest-growing engineering fields in general. Biomedical engineers design and test medical devices and equipment, such as artificial organs and diagnostic tools. They often collaborate with biologists, chemists, and medical researchers to during the design process.

However, coursework in biology and medical sciences is recommended if you plan to pursue a career in biomedical engineering. Most entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or a related field, such as mechanical engineering, but research and management positions require graduate degrees. The figures above were provided by the BLS.

Materials Engineers

  • Expected Growth: 9%
  • Average Annual Salary: $89,240

Materials engineers monitor the performance of various materials as well as create and test new products. They work with ceramics, metals, plastics, composites, and more, and some materials engineers specialize in working certain materials. While most materials engineers have degrees in materials science, degrees in mechanical engineering and chemical engineering are also relevant to the field. The above figures are cited from the BLS.

Aerospace Engineers

  • Expected Growth: 5%
  • Average Annual Salary: $101,990

Aerospace engineering is a popular field for mechanical engineering graduates because it combines the breadth of scientific disciplines that make up the mechanical engineering field. Aerospace engineers design and develop new technologies and devices that are used in defense, aviation, and spacecraft, robotics, communications, combustion, navigation, and more.

A bachelor’s degree in in an engineering field such as mechanical engineering meets the requirements for many entry-level aerospace engineering jobs, according to the BLS. Figures reported above were provided by the BLS.

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