Mechanical engineering is a rewarding, interesting career path in the industrial sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), mechanical engineers make an average of $90,160 per year in the United States.
But if you’re interested in becoming a mechanical engineer, then your location can have a big impact on both how easy it is to find a job in this industry and how much you will make once you do.
That’s why we’ve put together the following article. It covers everything that you need to know about where to look for employment as an aspiring mechanical engineer.
Let’s get started.
Are mechanical engineers in high demand?
According to the BLS, the demand for mechanical engineers will grow about 4% from 2019 to 2029. By their metrics, that’s considered average. So the demand for mechanical engineers is expected to keep pace with the growth of the economy over approximately the next decade.
One thing to keep in mind is that the demand for mechanical engineers can be cyclical. When a new technology emerges, such as wind power or large-scale solar farms, the demand for mechanical engineers tends to go up rapidly in response.
That’s because mechanical engineers are needed to plan, design, and oversee the construction of the infrastructure needed to take advantage of these new technologies.
However, once the infrastructure has been built, the number of mechanical engineers needed to maintain it tends to go down from the number needed to build it.
How do you become a mechanical engineer?
Unlike many other industrial jobs, you do need a bachelor’s degree to contribute to become a mechanical engineer. Most individuals in this line of work earn degrees in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technologies. You may also qualify for a position with a standard engineering degree and a focus on mechanical engineering.
These degree programs teach the core skills that mechanical engineers need to excel in the workplace. They often include classes on topics like:
- Principles of design
- Calculus-based physics
- Circuits and electronics
- Differential equations
- Elements of mechanical design
- Electrical energy conversion
Earning a master’s degree can be a good way to distinguish yourself from other mechanical engineers who are vying for the same positions. However, you don’t need to have one to get hired as a mechanical engineer.
You typically don’t need any certifications or licenses to become an entry-level mechanical engineer. However, you will likely need to earn a professional engineering (PE) license to progress into higher levels of leadership.
The first step towards earning a PE license is to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam after you graduate from college. You will then be considered an engineer in training (EIT) and will be able to take the PE exam after meeting the work experience requirements in your state.
Top areas hiring mechanical engineers
There are a few different ways to look at the top areas hiring mechanical engineers. For example, the states that are home to the most employed mechanical engineers are the following:
- Michigan - 40,340
- California - 28,130
- Texas - 21,970
- Pennsylvania - 15,740
- Ohio - 14,090
But maybe you care more about being in a state that maximizes your earning potential instead of one that maximizes your chances of getting any job as a mechanical engineer. In that case, you would want to look at the areas that have the highest average salaries for mechanical engineers:
- New Mexico - $117,180
- District of Columbia - $115,860
- Maryland - $112,090
- California - $110,070
- Louisiana - $106,090
BEST METROPOLITAN AREAS FOR MECHANICAL ENGINEERS
State-level data is nice, but we can also break things down a little further thanks to helpful data from the BLS. For example, these are the metropolitan areas with the highest employment levels for mechanical engineers:
- Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI - 27,810
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA - 10,030
- Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI - 8,920
- New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA - 8,570
- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland, TX - 8,380
Once again, if earnings potential is what matters most to you, then this list will be more relevant to your interests. It shows the highest-paying metropolitan areas for mechanical engineers:
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA - $125,760
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA - $124,190
- Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX - $123,700
- Albuquerque, NM - $121,570
- Midland, TX - $117,690
BEST NONMETROPOLITAN AREAS FOR MECHANICAL ENGINEERS
The BLS has also put together helpful information about the best nonmetropolitan employment areas for mechanical engineers. These are the nonmetropolitan areas that are home to the largest number of mechanical engineers:
- Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan - 1,170
- West Northwestern Ohio - 1,150
- South Central Wisconsin - 830
- Southern Indiana - 710
- Southwest New York - 640
And here are the nonmetropolitan areas that offer the best annual average salary to mechanical engineers:
- Northeast Virginia - $112,770
- West Northwestern Ohio - $71,660
- Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan - $75,200
- Northeast Lower Peninsula of Michigan - $69,940
- South Central Wisconsin - $73,350
The top companies hiring mechanical engineers
Mechanical engineers are a bright bunch of people who enjoy working on meaningful problems for companies that are pushing the boundaries of their industries. That’s why it’s no surprise that mechanical engineers list the following companies as the most desirable to work at.
Mechanical engineering positions at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are some of the most sought-after in the industry. A recent survey conducted by Universum found that 20% of all engineering students show an interest in working for NASA.
The reasons for this are clear. NASA offers some of the best salaries and benefits packages in the business because of its high-risk and security-sensitive programs. Additionally, working for NASA provides mechanical engineers with the opportunity to explore the boundaries of space travel.
Google is another company that pays its mechanical engineers very well. It’s a company that has become synonymous with innovation and technology. That’s why one estimation suggestions that as many as 18% of mechanical engineering graduates want to work for Google.
Working for Tesla is becoming an increasingly common desire for new mechanical engineering graduates. That’s because the company is on the cutting-edge of the clean energy revolution.
Not only does Tesla make the most popular electric vehicles on the market, but it also sells solar panels and solar batteries. That’s why mechanical engineers that want to make a contribution in the clean energy space often have Tesla as their number one company to work for.
Lockheed Martin is another hugely popular destination for mechanical engineers. It’s a company that’s at the forefront of military technology. Lockheed Martin has dozens of contracts with the United States military apparatus. It produces cutting-edge combat gear, radar systems, missiles, and more. That’s why mechanical engineers who are interested in this type of work tend to gravitate towards the company.
Boeing is the biggest aerospace company in the world. It makes commercial jetliners and military aircraft. The company is said to offer some of the best pay and benefits packages in the industry and is always looking for new mechanical engineers who are interested in forging a career in the aerospace industry.
NVIDIA is one of the leading companies in the GPU and AI spaces. The company creates computer chips for mobile phones, gaming devices, and even cars.
Mechanical engineers who are interested in working on cutting-edge design solutions in these areas often want to do so at NVIDIA. One of the reasons for this is that the company offers excellent remuneration packages to attract the best talent in the industry.
What if I don’t live in one of those areas?
If you’d like to become a mechanical engineer and you don’t work in one of the locations listed in this blog post, that’s okay. You can still find a job in this field. But there will be fewer total mechanical engineering positions available in your area, which means you could face stiffer competition for them.
That means you may need to spend more time working on your application materials. For example, crafting an excellent resume and a compelling cover letter can help you win more interviews with mechanical engineering companies.
You might also look into improving your qualifications if you live in an area with fewer mechanical engineering positions than average. You could earn a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with an extra year or two of studies and having one could make it significantly easier to find a job in this industry.
Visit Rock the Trades to learn more about mechanical engineering and other industrial trades
If you’re serious about mechanical engineering, there’s a ton of information to explore about this fascinating industrial field.
Rock the Trades is an organization that’s dedicated to educating people about the myriad of opportunities that are available in the industrial sector. Check out the Rock the Trades app today to learn more about what we do.