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Mechanical Engineering is often thought of as the most basic type of engineering work – after all, the wheel is probably the first of this field’s major inventions. More recently (i.e. the 19th Century) mechanical engineers were responsible for much of the Industrial Revolution’s innovations: the steam engine, steel manufacture, even time zones. Though the field can sometimes seem less glamorous than Civil or Electrical Engineering, the potential for doing innovative, exciting, and important work is definitely there!

Some typical courses of study in Mechanical Engineering (ME) include the mechanics of solids and fluids, thermodynamics, heat transfer, manufacturing engineering, robotics, kinematics, dynamics and vibrations, controls, and power generation. In addition and in combination with these, an ME student can also potentially work on bioengineering, computer-aided design and graphics, automated mechanism design, modern and optimal control, flexible manufacturing, materials processing, and continuous web manufacturing. Also, computer-aided manufacturing and computer-aided design are new focuses in ME that have become very important in the last few years. What does all this mean in regular English? If you choose to pursue a higher degree in Mechanical Engineering, you will learn how things work. This will allow you to potentially invent new techniques and machines for manufacturing, or to streamline those than already exist.

This last point is particularly important for today’s mechanical engineers. With shrinking resources, and new awareness of the damaging effects of industry and manufacture, ME grads will do well to particularly focus on innovations that both push the field forward and avoid causing further harm.

As with other engineering fields, qualified female applicants are in high demand in the workforce.

Degree Information

The typical Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering takes one year of full-time study. A sampling of master’s programs in the field of Mechanical Engineering includes: Manufacturing Systems Management, Aerospace Engineering, and Packaging of Electronic and Optical Devices.

Doctorate programs are mainly for those individuals who aspire to teach at the university level or to engage in some serious research and development work. The doctoral degree typically conferred is either a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering or a Doctor of Engineering Science (Eng.Sc.D.). A doctorate will take several years beyond what it takes to earn a master’s degree. The total length of time will depend on the specific field of research chosen.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program

  • Am I a highly detail-oriented person?
  • Am I willing to work in a field where I will need to keep up with new developments, even after I am finished with school?
  • What kind of mechanical engineering most interests me? Does the program offer the specialization I am interested in?
  • Who are the faculty members? How accessible are they?
  • Am I more interesting in actual manufacturing or in studying the way people do their work?

Career Overview

A degree in Mechanical Engineering opens the door to a wide variety of fields, including: applied mathematics; computer-aided design and manufacturing; energy systems; pressure vessels and piping; and heating, refrigeration, and air-conditioning systems. Over half of all ME jobs are in manufacturing, the rest are spread through a few other sectors, including the federal government, management, and business. While manufacturing jobs in general have slowed down in the last few years, ME jobs are expected to stay fairly steady. The highest median salaries are in the field of personnel supply services, followed by the federal government.

A doctorate will allow you to pursue an academic career.

Career/Licensing Requirements

While licensing is not required to get a job, per se, it is desirable and will make the job search that much easier. If you want to work for a governmental organization, or in education, getting licensed may be required. You also need a license to file plans or designs with public or private clients. The licensing process varies from state to state, but the basics are pretty standard: you need to take an exam, which you are qualified to sit for once you have four years experience in the field, in addition to having an engineering degree.

Salary Information

The average starting salary for a Mechanical Engineer with a master’s degree is approximately $56,000. This number may be higher or lower depending on the employer’s geographic region and type.

Related Links

National Society of Professional Engineers
The National Society of Professional Engineers had the scoop on all the latest technologies and licensing regulations.

American Engineering Association
The American Engineering Association provides a support system for all engineers. Included on the site are links to information for computer and electrical engineers.

American Society of Mechanical Engineers
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers is an excellent resource for both experienced workers and newcomers to the field. They have a particularly good sub-site for young engineers and those who are still students.


  • Introduction To Control Theory

  • Analysis, Modeling, And Control Of Manufacturing Systems

  • Homogenous Turbines

  • Introduction To Probability And Statistics

  • Introduction To Robotics

  • Power Plants

  • Principles Of Metal Cutting

  • Product Design For Manufacturability

  • Refrigeration And Air Conditioning

  • Rocket Propulsion

  • Technology And Policy Issues In Manufacturing Enterprises