Career Spotlight: Mechanical Engineer

Have you always been curious about how machines work? Do you take things a part and put them back together? Do you like to design things? Do you enjoy figuring out why things are broken and fixing them?

If any of these describe you, then Mechanical Engineering may be the career field that would make you tick.

What do you need to be a Mechanical Engineer?

Education:  At least a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering

If you are a high school student, make sure you are focused on taking higher-level math and science classes. Be sure to take Calculus and Physics if available at your school.  A drafting class would also be a plus.

Skills: As referenced on Columbia University’s website, “Perhaps the one skill that is the mechanical engineer’s exclusive domain is the ability to analyze and design objects and systems with motion.”

Mechanical Engineers know how to:

  • Solve complex problems
  • Create and interpret designs of things as small as a bolt to as a large a complex manufacturing process
  • Research and test the performance of objects, equipment and systems
  • Diagnosis and troubleshoot equipment and machinery

Is the field growing?

Nationally, the field is growing 3-7% annually.

What is the pay like?

The average annual salary in the United States is $82,000.

What’s the Holland Code* for a Mechanical Engineer?

Interest code: IRC- Investigative, Realistic and Conventional

Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.


If you are interested in learning more about Mechanical Engineering, check out:



US News

Would you want to be a Mechanical Engineer? Why or why not?




*Holland Codes are a way to classify a person based on their skills and interests as well as jobs based on the nature of the work. If you have an interest in knowing what your Holland Code is in order to match yourself to careers to pursue, you can read more about our assessment process.

Mary Ila Ward

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