Do you have an inquisitive mind and affinity for machines? Do you find yourself dismantling anything with gears, springs, levers and belts just to see what makes it all work? It's high time you put that restless mind to work with a degree in mechanical engineering. In this field, you could get your hands on machines ranging from electric generators to the robots used in manufacturing.
Coursework for bachelor's degrees in mechanical engineering can include statics and dynamics -- including thermodynamics and fluid dynamics, materials engineering, design, manufacturing, mechanics and all the math to get you through. Additional subjects might include electronics or another specialty. Classes like English can help develop communications skills for working with teams and clients.
Gear up: careers for mechanical engineering majors
Mechanical engineers create, research and test machines, which, as you may have noticed, are everywhere. These professionals earned a median salary of $78,160 in 2010, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth of 8.8 percent -- while this is lower than the national average, it does mean 21,300 jobs should open up between 2010 and 2020.
Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest of the engineering disciplines, according to the BLS, and studies in this field can lead to diverse career paths. Here are a few related positions, with the 2010 median wages listed by the BLS:
- Biomedical engineers: $81,540. You could create the devices that doctors use to solve medical problems: Think prosthetic limbs, artificial organs or MRI machines. Coursework might include biomaterials, biomechanics, orthopedics and other medical coursework.
- Industrial engineers: $76,100. You would work with people, machines, materials and more to determine the most efficient way to make quality products efficiently. Studies might cover business administration, financial planning, industrial design and management.
Other occupations include materials engineer and, for the more business-minded, technical sales or management. Mechanical engineering applies to a wide variety of projects, from nanotechnology to hydraulic bridges, and you may explore many different types of engineering.
With bachelor's degrees in mechanical engineering, not even the sky is the limit: With just a few more years of targeted training, you could be on the team building the next Mars rover. Don't wait to get started working toward your passion; you can begin a mechanical engineering degree online almost immediately, even if you're already employed.