Becoming a mechanical engineer is no short order. Unlike many trade positions where you can start working on the job, higher education is required for most every field in the mechanical engineering discipline. An investment in a mechanical engineering degree can be extremely rewarding, however.
Getting your Degree
Even for the most entry-level of positions, getting your Bachelor’s degree is a must if you want to become a mechanical engineer. It’s also important to make sure your degree is from an accredited school as prescribed by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, or ABET.
Getting your Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering means math, and lots of it. You will have to be strong in both life and physical sciences as well engineering and design. Computer software like CAD is also a must. If you know which particular fiend you want to go in already, it’s a good idea to takes courses in this also.
Competition is fierce, especially in today’s market. Yes there is an employment gap for mechanical engineers, but this is only for those who are highly skilled. While getting your Bachelor’s is a great start, it is advised that you go further and get your Master’s as well.
A typical Bachelor’s degree takes four years. Add another two years to that to get your Master’s, but there a quicker way. Some colleges offer a combination, 5-year degree plan that encompasses both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. Some 6-year programs even include getting experience in the field, which will give you an even more competitive edge when looking for a job.
Getting your license
Getting your education is one thing but to be able to join the workforce you’re going to need to get your license as well. Licenses are designated at the state level and any mechanical engineer who deals directly with a customer must have one.
In order to get your license you must first pass the FE Exam, Fundamentals of Engineering. This is the test given by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. After being on the job, that’s when you can take your PE exam, Principles and Practice of Engineering, and become a full-fledged professional engineer.
In many states it will also be required to you continue your education at certain intervals to maintain your license. Many states do reciprocate with others when it comes to accepting licensing procedures.
Going that extra mile, getting your certifications
While getting a certification is not required, it is a good idea. ASME, the American Society of Engineers, is THE source when it comes to getting your individual certifications. While the marketplace is short of qualified mechanical engineers, it’s those with added skills who land the really good jobs. Certification skills include advanced control systems design, advanced materials mechanics, stress analysis, convection heat transfer, and dynamic systems.