How to Become a Mechanical Engineer – Guide

by Anwesha Sarkar

Are you searching for How To become a Mechanical Engineer? If yes, Then You are at the right place. Mechanical engineers design mechanical systems, mechanical devices, machines, and different tools.

A mechanical engineer designs, develops, builds, and tests mechanical devices and systems. They apply principles of physics, material science, and mathematics to analyze, design, and manufacture everything from small individual parts to complex systems. 

Mechanical engineering is an exciting career path for those interested in problem-solving, innovation, and working with cutting-edge technology across industries like healthcare, aerospace, robotics, energy, and automotive

Work Environment

Mechanical engineers generally work in office settings. They collaborate closely with other engineering professionals and technicians. Site visits are needed to oversee facilities and solve onsite issues.

Mechanical engineers work normal business hours but may need to work evenings and weekends to meet project deadlines. Self-motivation and time management skills are essential to handle multiple projects and competing priorities.

Though much time is spent at a computer analyzing designs, performing simulations, and preparing documentation, tests labs, and production facilities provide a more dynamic hands-on environment. Strict safety procedures must be followed at all times when visiting test and production sites.

Steps To Become a Mechanical Engineer

1) Get the Required Education

To become a mechanical engineer you will need at minimum a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or a related engineering field. Typical required courses include physics, mathematics, statistics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, materials science, and engineering design.

Most mechanical engineering programs are 4-year bachelor’s degree programs. You can also get a master’s degree or PhD which may be preferred for some positions or to work in research and development. When researching schools, look for ABET-accredited programs that ensure quality standards are met.

Some students choose to first get an associate’s degree or complete a vocational program in mechanical engineering technology. These programs focus more on hands-on skills than theory, so can prepare you for technician roles. Many students use these programs as an affordable way to complete introductory courses before transferring to a 4-year engineering program.

2) Build Up Relevant Experience

Experience is key both for developing engineering skills and making yourself an attractive candidate for jobs after graduation. Here are some ways to gain valuable experience:

  • Do internships every summer during university. Apply for roles related to your engineering interests.
  • Join engineering clubs at your school and compete in design competitions. These allow you to apply classroom principles to real-world problems.
  • Consider a co-op program where you alternate semesters of full-time work with semesters of classes. This integrates work experience into your degree.
  • Shadow or interview engineers in your desired industry to learn more about their work and advice for breaking in.
  • Get a part-time or summer job in a relevant field like auto mechanics, electronics repair, machine shop technician, or computer-aided design.

2) Develop In-Demand Engineering Skills 

Mechanical engineers use a diverse toolkit of hard and soft skills. Make sure to develop these key skills:

  • Analytical skills – analyze engineering problems and data
  • Math skills – calculate forces, tolerances, mechanics
  • Computer skills – CAD, simulation, programming
  • Communication – collaborate in teams, convey complex information clearly
  • Creativity – design innovative solutions
  • Business skills – understand budgeting, marketing, management
  • Attention to detail – create precise technical drawings and specs

4) Stay updated on the latest engineering software, equipment, and design methods.

Join professional organizations as a student to access resources and training opportunities.

Earn a Professional Engineering License Though not required for all jobs, getting licensed as a Professional Engineer (PE) allows you to advance in many careers and certifies your 

qualifications. Each state has its own PE licensing process but in general, you must:

  • Hold an ABET-accredited engineering degree
  • Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Gain a minimum 4 years of relevant work experience
  • Pass the PE exam for your engineering discipline

The FE exam can be taken senior year of college so you can get it done soon after graduation.

5) Create a Strong Mechanical Engineering Resume

A polished resume will make you stand out when applying to engineering jobs and internships. Tailor your resume for each application by matching your skills and experience to the job qualifications. Emphasize technical expertise as well as soft skills valued in engineering like problem-solving and communication. Include:

  • A skills section listing relevant hard and soft skills
  • Detail about specific engineering projects and your role
  • Technical skills like AutoCAD, MATLAB, and SolidWorks
  • Academic achievements like scholarships, honors, GPA
  • Leadership and teamwork experience

Looking at job listings can help you identify important keywords to incorporate. Have your university career center review your resume to make sure it is polished.

Learn About More Careers In Engineering

6) Network and Apply to Jobs

Start putting yourself out there before senior year. Attend career fairs and engineering organization events to build connections. Apply for on-campus recruiting opportunities at your university. Search online engineering job boards and company career pages for openings. Customize your cover letter and draw connections between your background and the job requirements.

Opportunities may be open before you graduate. Don’t get discouraged by rejection – persist and keep broadening the companies and positions you apply to.

7) Consider Important Specializations

Mechanical engineering is a broad field but engineers usually specialize in one industry or application. Here are some of the top specializations to consider:

  • Aerospace Engineering – design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites
  • Automotive Engineering – design vehicles and their subsystems
  • Robotics – design and build robots and automated systems
  • Manufacturing & Production Engineering – improve manufacturing efficiency
  • Biomechanical Engineering – design medical devices and artificial organs
  • Energy Systems – design power generation and HVAC systems
  • Nanotechnology Engineering – work at the microscopic scale

8) Choose an area you find exciting and research those specific skills and job opportunities. 

Join related professional organizations as a student. Consider a graduate degree in your specialty.

The Steps At a Glance:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering
  2. Gain experience through internships and student projects
  3. Develop technical and soft engineering skills
  4. Obtain a Professional Engineering license after graduation
  5. Create a tailored resume and apply to engineering jobs
  6. Consider specializing in an engineering industry or application

With strategic preparation, passion, and persistence, you can launch a rewarding career improving lives through innovative mechanical engineering solutions.

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