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Mechanical Engineering Major

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Mechanical Engineering

35,706 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
8,212 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 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 35,706
Master’s Degree 8,212
Doctor’s Degree 1,589
Associate’s Degree 322
Graduate Certificate 178
Basic Certificate 7

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

ME majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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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

ME majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

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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

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a ME student include the following:

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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?

35,706 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
14% Percent Women
26% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is one of the most frequently chosen undergraduate majors. It is the 15th most popular in the country with 35,706 students graduating with a bachelor’s in ME in 2018. This major tends to be male dominated. About 86% 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 2,782
Black or African American 1,111
Hispanic or Latino 4,003
White 22,208
International Students 3,383
Other Races/Ethnicities 2,219

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in ME, too. About 9.5% 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 early-career salary of mechanical engineering students with a bachelor’s degree is $62,400 a year according to 2017-2018 data 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

Average salaries range from $92,800 to $117,100 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to ME. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

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 degrees associated with ME may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to ME have obtained the following education levels.

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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 2017-2018 academic year, 391 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) 2 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 0 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 34 1
Bachelor’s Degree 18 5
Post-Baccalaureate 2 0
Master’s Degree 233 35
Post-Master’s 10 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 31,993
Civil Engineering 21,299
Computer Engineering 15,329
Chemical Engineering 14,729
Biomedical Engineering 11,483
General Engineering 11,245
Industrial Engineering 9,714
Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering 6,315
Materials Engineering 3,555
Systems Engineering 3,439
Other Engineering 2,900
Petroleum Engineering 2,818
Environmental Engineering 2,746
Operations Research 1,555
Agricultural Engineering 1,546
Engineering Science 1,509
Nuclear Engineering 1,050
Engineering Physics 1,028
Manufacturing Engineering 920
Architectural Engineering 874
Construction Engineering 870
Robotics Engineering 755
Geoscience Engineering 510
Marine Engineering 506
Mining Engineering 434
Biological Engineering 400
Textile Engineering 359
Polymer & Plastics Engineering 348
Engineering Mechanics 329
Ocean Engineering 305
Metallurgical Engineering 218
Biochemical Engineering 124
Ceramic Engineering 111
Electromechanical Engineering 84
Surveying Engineering 73
Paper Science & Engineering 51
Forest Engineering 39
Engineering Chemistry 5

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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