When people think of mechanical engineers, they tend to envision a sort of handyman.
“They think that you’re also a mechanic, and that you want to fix anything that’s broken— especially cars and computers,” explains mechanical engineer Israr Kabir.
But that’s not really what the job entails.
While “fixing” is certainly an aspect of the job, these experts are actually responsible for designing and overseeing the manufacturing of products ranging from auto parts to cellphones. They get to research, build and test new devices using some of the most advanced technology.
We spoke with Israr Kabir, business development manager, manufacturing, at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers to find out more about the profession:
What does a mechanical engineer do?
“Mechanical engineers are the jack-of-all-trades,” says Kabir. Not only do they research, design and build products, they also analyze and test the individual parts. When it comes to building an iPhone, “that means making sure that the phone doesn’t overheat when charged and that the center button survives 1 million pushes,” he explains.
“Whether it’s estimating the cost related to a particular design or actually designing and manufacturing a product — a mechanical engineer is involved.”
What schooling do you need?
Those interested in pursuing the profession need to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, says Kabir. While it’s possible to find a job with an undergraduate degree, those who are looking to specialize — for example, robotics, nuclear energy, biomedical engineering, or aerospace — may choose to enroll in a masters program.
What’s the typical salary?
The median annual salary for mechanical engineers is $84,190, according to the most recent reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The best-paid 10 percent in the profession made more than $131,350, while the lowest-paid 10 percent made $54,420.