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Mechanical Engineering

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Mechanical Engineering Major

Mechanical engineering is a major that typically falls into the Engineering category.

There are 34 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in ME, 355 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 233 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 151 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a ME Degree?

Mechanical engineering is the 16th most popular college major in the country. In 2017, roughly 32,800 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the field. This major tends to be male dominated. About 85.7% of recent graduates are men.

Racial Distribution

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

  • Asian: 7.8%
  • Black or African American: 3.1%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 11.2%
  • White: 62.2%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 9.5%
  • Other Races: 6.2%
Mechanical Engineering Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in ME. About 9.5% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending ME majors to the U.S. are India, China and Saudi Arabia.

What Will You Learn as a Mechanical Engineering Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to ME to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for ME Majors

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

Important Knowledge Areas for Mechanical Engineering Majors

Skills for ME Majors

A major in ME prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

Important Skills for Mechanical Engineering Majors

Abilities for ME Majors

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

Important Abilities for ME Majors

What Can You Do With a ME Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with ME:

Careers Related to Mechanical Engineering
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Aerospace Engineers



Mechanical Engineers



Fuel Cell Engineers



Cost Estimators



Automotive Engineers



Architectural and Engineering Managers



Engineering Professors



Mechanical Engineering Major Salary

ME majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $93,000 to $117,000. 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, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a ME Major  ( 93000 to 117000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Mechanical Engineering Major Jobs

Some careers associated with ME require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. 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 education 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.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Mechanical Engineering
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Mechanical Engineering Programs

There are 355 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, with 4 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Many learners are drawn to online programs due to the ease of use and flexibility. Students should be warned that those who enroll in online programs can take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to drop out.

Is a Mechanical Engineering Major Worth It?

The median salary for a ME grad is $114,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 192% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,495,600 after 20 years!

mechanical engineering salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Michel Villeneuve via License

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