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What Subjects are Needed to Become a Mechanical Engineer

Last Updated on June 12, 2024 by Team College Learners

Mechanical engineering deals with the theory, design, development and maintenance of the machinery needed for production of both goods and services. Therefore, a job as a mechanical engineer is incredibly diverse in that you can choose your focus depending on where your interest lies. It is a given fact that the internet has a bunch of information. However, some of those information may not be correct and others may not even be true. We bring you the best and verified information in the article below. Read on to discover more. This won’t be the case here as our article includes the best and verified information.

You probably already have an idea about what to expect when studying Mechanical Engineering, but what about the jobs you can look forward to when taking such a degree? If your answer is the typical “be solution-oriented, creative, and have at least passing knowledge of Math and Technology” you’re only at the base of the mountain. There’s still some hiking to do to reach the peak.

Mechanical Engineering Requirements 

Each university has its own entry requirements. Maths and physics are generally the most important subjects for mechanical engineering, but many students manage to get on a course without having studied them. 

Engineering school admission requirements typically include a high school diploma with a full menu of math and science courses, plus humanities and computer studies. High school preparation should include geometry, trigonometry, algebra and calculus, plus physics, chemistry and biology. Most employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering for entry-level mechanical engineering jobs. A bachelor’s degree normally requires general classes in math, humanities, science, social sciences and engineering during the first two years, and specialized classes during the remaining years. The curriculum also incorporates the basics of other engineering disciplines, such as chemical, electrical and civil engineering. Typical studies include calculus, thermodynamics, physics, materials science, statics, dynamics and fluid dynamics, and laboratory sections. Many engineering degree programs also include internships.

Some graduates with other engineering specialties, or with a bachelor’s in science or math, can find mechanical engineering jobs when demand is particularly high. Mechanical engineering programs at the bachelor’s level normally take at least four years to complete. Many hiring managers prefer graduates of programs with accreditation from ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

The fundamental subjects of mechanical engineering usually include:

  • Mathematics (in particular, calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra)
  • Basic physical sciences (including physics and chemistry)
  • Statics and dynamics
  • Strength of materials and solid mechanics
  • Materials engineering, Composites
  • Thermodynamics, heat transfer, energy conversion, and HVAC
  • Fuels, combustion, Internal combustion engine
  • Fluid mechanics (including fluid statics and fluid dynamics)
  • Mechanism and Machine design (including kinematics and dynamics)
  • Instrumentation and measurement
  • Manufacturing engineering, technology, or processes
  • Vibration, control theory and control engineering
  • Hydraulics and Pneumatics
  • Mechatronics and robotics
  • Engineering design and product design
  • Drafting, computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)

Education Requirements

A career in mechanical engineering requires at least a bachelor’s degree. These programs include instruction in various system components, from computer programming to power systems, and cover technical subjects such as fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and hydraulics. Students are also expected to gain a basic understanding of civil engineering, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering. Many programs include coursework in fields where mechanical engineering is often applied, such as business or environmental science.

Students interested in research and development positions in academia or private industry might go on to earn a master’s or doctoral degree in mechanical engineering. Graduate programs in mechanical engineering typically involve research projects in a specific area, culminating in a thesis or dissertation. Engineering schools generally hold an accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

A levels – Entry requirements range from CCC to A*AA, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for AAB.

Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from ABBB to AAAAB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for AA.

Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.

What subjects should I study to become a mechanical engineer?

To become a mechanical engineer, you will need to study a mix of math-based and engineering-based subjects. These include physics, math, calculus, algebra, statistics, thermodynamics, mechanical systems, fluid dynamics, material science, and statics. Of course, engineering programs also include several lab hours. In the U.S., most bachelor-level programs in mechanical engineering offer these courses. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) makes sure that engineering programs provide these fundamental courses for students that want to pursue a career in this field. After getting a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, students can start working as mechanical engineers. After completing four years of work experience and passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Professional Engineering (PE) exam, engineers can receive the Professional Engineer (PE) license. This license is the most recognized credential for engineers in the U.S. It provides them better job opportunities and salaries.

What Does a Mechanical Engineer Do?

Mechanical Engineering Basics

Mechanical engineers research, design, develop and test mechanical and thermal devices including tools, engines, and machines. Some of the more-common devices serve the medical, energy, and automated manufacturing sectors. Many mechanical engineers work in general-purpose and automotive manufacturing, or for architectural and engineering service companies. Mechanical engineers also work in research and development testing laboratories. They typically spend their workdays in professional office settings but sometimes visit work sites to solve problems with existing equipment.

Mechanical engineers work hard, and often put in long days. According to the BLS, more than one-third of mechanical engineers worked over 40 hours a week in 2012. Candidates who continue their education to keep abreast of technological innovations will likely fill the best jobs opening up in the field.

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Mechanical Engineering Licensure

Mechanical engineers working in all states must earn licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE). Requirements for PE licensure include a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution accredited by ABET and work experience under the supervision of a licensed engineer. Candidates must also pass the Fundamentals of Engineering and Principles and Practice of Engineering tests, administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

Engineers may seek license by a state, provincial, or national government. The purpose of this process is to ensure that engineers possess the necessary technical knowledge, real-world experience, and knowledge of the local legal system to practice engineering at a professional level. Once certified, the engineer is given the title of Professional Engineer (in the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Bangladesh and South Africa), Chartered Engineer (in the United Kingdom, Ireland, India and Zimbabwe), Chartered Professional Engineer (in Australia and New Zealand) or European Engineer (much of the European Union).

In the U.S., to become a licensed Professional Engineer (PE), an engineer must pass the comprehensive FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam, work a minimum of 4 years as an Engineering Intern (EI) or Engineer-in-Training (EIT), and pass the “Principles and Practice” or PE (Practicing Engineer or Professional Engineer) exams. The requirements and steps of this process are set forth by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), a composed of engineering and land surveying licensing boards representing all U.S. states and territories.

In the UK, current graduates require a BEng plus an appropriate master’s degree or an integrated MEng degree, a minimum of 4 years post graduate on the job competency development and a peer reviewed project report to become a Chartered Mechanical Engineer (CEng, MIMechE) through the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. CEng MIMechE can also be obtained via an examination route administered by the City and Guilds of London Institute.

What can you do with a mechanical engineering degree?

Most mechanical engineering graduates will remain in engineering, as:

  • Mechanical engineer
  • Structural engineer
  • Aerospace engineer
  • Civil engineer

But some engineering graduates use their diverse skillset to move into other sectors, as:

  • Auto electrician
  • Transport planner
  • Model maker
  • CNC machinist

Salaries and workforce statistics

The total number of engineers employed in the U.S. in 2015 was roughly 1.6 million. Of these, 278,340 were mechanical engineers (17.28%), the largest discipline by size. In 2012, the median annual income of mechanical engineers in the U.S. workforce was $80,580. The median income was highest when working for the government ($92,030), and lowest in education ($57,090). In 2014, the total number of mechanical engineering jobs was projected to grow 5% over the next decade. As of 2009, the average starting salary was $58,800 with a bachelor’s degree.

Career Information

Earning a degree in mechanical engineering opens a variety of career opportunities with automobile manufacturers, utility companies, and government agencies. Additional education, like a Master’s of Business Administration or a Doctor of Jurisprudence, can lead to employment in executive positions. Getting a masters or doctoral degree in mechanical engineering allows individuals to seek jobs as professors or researchers at colleges and universities.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary for mechanical engineers is $93,540. Mechanical engineers living in New Mexico, District of Columbia, and Maryland earned the highest annual mean salaries. The BLS projects a four percent increase in jobs for mechanical engineers between 2018 and 2028, which is about average in comparison to other occupations. Growth in fields like oil and gas extraction and nanotechnology will provide additional career opportunities.

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