Many of us go to college is to get that dream job. We put in countless hours pouring knowledge into our brains, and without a doubt, it is our biggest asset. However, not all dream jobs may be on the table right out of college. It is very important to understand where our chosen field stands in the job market today and in the future. This report covers the potential job outlook for mechanical engineering. The job market for mechanical engineers is on the rise and there are jobs, but engineers have to stand out to get their piece of the cake. Also, staying local may result in a lack of job opportunity. Moving to a location where specific engineering jobs are more common, may be recommended. Mechanical engineering is both rewarding and stressful job. It may not be easy to get a job right out of college. Especially after graduating, a mechanical engineer has to learn and accumulate a broad skill set so that dream job is in close reach.
As of 2018, mechanical engineering placed first as the most common engineering degree among college graduates (Stockwell, 2018). Mechanical engineering involves the designing, development, manufacturing, and testing of small components to complex systems. One of its charms is its broad course load which allows the graduate to enter a variety of different fields. This means that a student does not necessarily have to pick a specific field in college. It may be applied to the automotive, aerospace, petroleum, nuclear, or even the biomedical industry. Even though the degree allows for flexibility, it does not guarantee everyone a job right out of college. As every college student, mechanical engineering students have to be aware of the projected outlook of their decided career path. The most important things to keep in mind are the future job market and job availability.
The job outlook is projected to increase 9% from 2016-2026 ( U.S. Department of Labor, 2018). We live in a world where advancements in technology are very rapid and frequent. In just the past decade, people have seen major breakthroughs in the automobile industry. Sensors on automobiles are correcting the human error on the road and their efficiency is making cars more economical. Although not a flawless concept and design yet, self-driving cars are also starting to hit the roads. Eventually, a mechanic may need a mechanical engineering degree to fix the complex cars that will overwhelm the roads in the near future. Mechanical engineers are needed to help design some of the most sophisticated automobiles on the road.
There are many moving parts that may be improved or re-engineered for optimal performance and durability. In manufacturing, automation is replacing repetitive jobs. A person with a degree in mechanical engineering may work on developing new and efficient ways to automate different machines. Until an artificial intelligence can think more efficiently than a human, people who have to use their knowledge will have a place in the work environment. Understanding how changing technology is shaping different industries is important. After thirty years, a phycologist uses the same material learned in school, but an engineer has to constantly learn the new advancements in technology (Athan, 2013). If one is not careful and up to date on the newest technology, it may be hard to find a job in a competitive field.
Some engineering firms may use old methods of drafting, and the workers may not be familiar with the newest software available. Computer-aided design programs such as SolidWorks or AutoCAD are important to design 3D and 2D models. Also, finite element analysis software like ANSYS or COMSOL help with simulating stresses on parts and designs. These are very important tools for engineers, but there is constantly new and more accurate software that is changing the standards of designing and testing. School may teach the most relevant material at the time, but the learning does not stop there. While it is a very promising field, it does not guarantee everyone an entry level position right out of the starting gates.
As appealing as it may sound, there are some drawbacks. It is a very sought-after degree with a very large influx of new graduates annually. Locally there may only be a couple engineering firms who are willing to employ a newcomer with no relevant experience. That entry-level position may be hard to lock down because one has to compete against their graduating class and all the other graduates with the same degree. As students, we have to be the one in a sea of zeros. Upon searching through the available entry-level positions on Monster.com, they were limited and relatively far in location (MONSTER, 2018). It may be wise to consider moving where jobs in the desired field are more available. Depending on the industry, certain parts of the country flourish more than others. The majority of mechanical engineers are living in the eastern half of the United States where the automotive industry is more common (DATA USA, 2016). Half the battle is being in a location where mechanical engineering jobs are available. The other half is competing against all the other new graduates.
In the year 2016, the ages of the employed mechanical engineers varied between eighteen and ninety-four, and there was a significant increase in employment from ages twenty-one to twenty-four (DATA USA, 2016). Therefore, it may take up to two years to find a job after obtaining a degree. In engineering and many other careers, the experience is very important. The first job out of college will probably not be the expected dream job, but it will help one gain experience. It might be beneficial to try multiple jobs to gain more experience and versatility. Mechanical engineering is a male-dominated occupation with 93.1% being male (DATA USA, 2016).
This may be discouraging to the female population, but it has a bright future for any gender. Many people consider their dream job as the one with a hefty paycheck. However, in engineering experience is the only thing that earns the six-figure salary. Compared to the general United States population, a person with a mechanical engineering degree earns on average sixty thousand dollars more annually (DATA USA, 2016). Realistically, the first job out of college may not come relatively close to expectations. The dream job may have to wait and any job offers that come will be a step in the right direction.
Mechanical engineering has a positive outlook in the future job market. It is a very flexible degree that opens many doors for a graduate. Technology is gradually becoming more complex, and the demand for mechanical engineers will gradually grow as well. The job market is very competitive, and local entry-level positions may be scarce. Any first job in the mechanical engineering field will help a new graduate gain experience for a future dream job. As a mechanical engineer, accumulating experience from different fields will help distinguish oneself from other competitors that are in the hunt for a career. However, an increase in salary also means an increase in stress and responsibilities. Mechanical engineering is in demand and any student who wishes to earn this degree will not regret it.