To work as a mechanical engineer, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent;
- have a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering; and
- have a license.
Education after high school
Most students prepare for this field by earning a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. Many four-year colleges and universities offer this program of study. You may need between four and five years to complete this program.
Some jobs require a master's or doctoral degree (PhD). For instance, if you are interested in teaching mechanical engineering at a college you need a PhD. Also, many student engineers go to graduate school to specialize in one area of mechanical engineering.
In a typical four-year program, classes include math, basic science, introductory engineering, and social science. Courses may include mechanics and materials, thermal-fluids, and product engineering. You may also study design and manufacturing and mechanical vibration.
You should consider participating in an internship with an engineering firm while you are in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.
In general, mechanical engineers receive one to two years of on-the-job training. New graduates work under the guidance of experienced engineers. In large companies, you may also receive formal classroom training. As you gain knowledge and experience you have greater independence and work on more difficult tasks.