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Mechanical Engineering Major

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Mechanical Engineering

7,864 Master's Degrees Annually
1,635 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#29 in Popularity (Master's)
$113,680 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Mechanical Engineering Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many mechanical engineering graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 7,864
Doctor’s Degree 1,635
Graduate Certificate 169

What Mechanical Engineering Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to ME were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for ME Majors

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

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  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.

Skills for ME Majors

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

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.

Abilities for ME Majors

A major in ME will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Mechanical Engineering Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with ME:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Aerospace Engineers 6.0% $115,220
Architectural and Engineering Managers 5.5% $140,760
Automotive Engineers 8.8% $87,370
Cost Estimators 10.5% $64,040
Engineering Professors 14.7% $101,720
Fuel Cell Engineers 8.8% $87,370
Mechanical Engineers 8.8% $87,370

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering?

7,864 Master's Degrees Annually
16% Percent Women
17% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
Mechanical Engineering runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #29 out of all the graduate majors we track. In 2019, about 7,864 graduates completed their master’s degree in this field. This major tends to be male dominated. About 84% of recent graduates are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

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

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of ME Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 594
Black or African American 131
Hispanic or Latino 421
White 2,774
International Students 3,609
Other Races/Ethnicities 335

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in ME, too. About 45.9% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • India
  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait
  • South Korea

How Much Do Mechanical Engineering Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering made a median starting salary of $78,200 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $74,900 (25th percentile) and $82,600 (75th percentile).

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We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to ME so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

ME majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $92,800 to $117,100 (25th to 75th percentile). 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, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Mechanical Engineering Major  ( 92800 to 117100 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

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 schooling 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.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 0.5%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.1%
Some College Courses 1.0%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 3.3%
Bachelor’s Degree 61.0%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 3.1%
Master’s Degree 18.8%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.5%
Doctoral Degree 8.2%
Post-Doctoral Training 2.0%

Online Mechanical Engineering Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 409 schools offered some type of mechanical engineering program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 3 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 0 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 35 0
Bachelor’s Degree 21 4
Post-Baccalaureate 3 0
Master’s Degree 235 40
Post-Master’s 11 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 149 5
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 1 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 0

Is a Degree in Mechanical Engineering Worth It?

The median salary for a ME grad is $113,680 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 185% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,475,600 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to ME.

Major Number of Grads
Electrical Engineering 12,934
Civil Engineering 6,961
Computer Engineering 5,021
Biomedical Engineering 4,057
General Engineering 3,449
Industrial Engineering 3,359
Chemical Engineering 2,897
Systems Engineering 2,639
Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering 2,163
Materials Engineering 1,863
Other Engineering 1,859
Operations Research 1,273
Environmental Engineering 1,117
Petroleum Engineering 537
Engineering Science 451
Nuclear Engineering 440
Manufacturing Engineering 412
Agricultural Engineering 338
Robotics Engineering 333
Construction Engineering 312
Engineering Physics 282
Architectural Engineering 247
Polymer & Plastics Engineering 205
Geoscience Engineering 176
Engineering Mechanics 168
Ocean Engineering 154
Mining Engineering 142
Textile Engineering 106
Biological Engineering 63
Metallurgical Engineering 51
Marine Engineering 48
Ceramic Engineering 30
Surveying Engineering 21
Electromechanical Engineering 17
Paper Science & Engineering 9
Biochemical Engineering 6
Forest Engineering 0

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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