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Mechanical Engineering Major

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Mechanical Engineering

37,343 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
7,864 Master's Degrees Annually
#15 in Popularity
$113,680 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Mechanical Engineering Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many mechanical engineering graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 37,343
Master’s Degree 7,864
Doctor’s Degree 1,635
Associate’s Degree 380
Graduate Certificate 169
Basic Certificate 14

What Mechanical Engineering Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to ME were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for ME Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in ME should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.

Skills for ME Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to ME:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.

Abilities for ME Majors

ME majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Mechanical Engineering Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with ME:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Aerospace Engineers 6.0% $115,220
Architectural and Engineering Managers 5.5% $140,760
Automotive Engineers 8.8% $87,370
Cost Estimators 10.5% $64,040
Engineering Professors 14.7% $101,720
Fuel Cell Engineers 8.8% $87,370
Mechanical Engineers 8.8% $87,370

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering?

37,343 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
16% Percent Women
27% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This is one of the most frequently chosen undergraduate majors. It is the 15th most popular in the country with 37,343 students graduating with a bachelor’s in ME in 2019. This major tends to be male dominated. About 84% of recent graduates are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of ME majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of ME Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 3,072
Black or African American 1,215
Hispanic or Latino 4,400
White 22,714
International Students 3,569
Other Races/Ethnicities 2,373

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in ME. About 9.6% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • India
  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait
  • South Korea

How Much Do Mechanical Engineering Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The median starting salary of students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in ME was $62,400 per year. These stats come from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $59,100 (25th percentile) and $65,475 (75th percentile).

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Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a ME degree.

Salaries According to BLS

ME majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $92,800 to $117,100 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Mechanical Engineering Major  ( 92800 to 117100 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with ME require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for ME careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 0.5%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.1%
Some College Courses 1.0%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 3.3%
Bachelor’s Degree 61.0%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 3.1%
Master’s Degree 18.8%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.5%
Doctoral Degree 8.2%
Post-Doctoral Training 2.0%

Online Mechanical Engineering Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 409 schools offered some type of mechanical engineering program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 3 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 0 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 35 0
Bachelor’s Degree 21 4
Post-Baccalaureate 3 0
Master’s Degree 235 40
Post-Master’s 11 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 149 5
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 1 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 0

Is a Degree in Mechanical Engineering Worth It?

The median salary for a ME grad is $113,680 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 185% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,475,600 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to ME.

Major Number of Grads
Electrical Engineering 31,384
Civil Engineering 21,938
Computer Engineering 15,891
Chemical Engineering 14,406
Biomedical Engineering 12,001
General Engineering 11,739
Industrial Engineering 9,410
Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering 7,069
Materials Engineering 3,538
Systems Engineering 3,491
Other Engineering 2,982
Environmental Engineering 2,850
Petroleum Engineering 2,269
Operations Research 1,745
Agricultural Engineering 1,554
Engineering Science 1,515
Architectural Engineering 1,019
Nuclear Engineering 1,014
Engineering Physics 979
Robotics Engineering 943
Manufacturing Engineering 932
Construction Engineering 865
Marine Engineering 481
Geoscience Engineering 424
Polymer & Plastics Engineering 387
Biological Engineering 374
Textile Engineering 366
Ocean Engineering 346
Mining Engineering 340
Engineering Mechanics 314
Metallurgical Engineering 235
Biochemical Engineering 118
Ceramic Engineering 101
Surveying Engineering 89
Electromechanical Engineering 65
Forest Engineering 52
Paper Science & Engineering 44
Engineering Chemistry 9

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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