What career paths so Mechanical Engineers have?
Good plate for information that gives you a good idea of what Mechanical Engineers Do, how to become one, and some pay info.
Mechanical Engineers likely have the broadest range of opportunities in their field. Entry level mechanical engineers will likely be hired to support direct project work which could include many areas such as working in manufacturing environments to address production and/or process issues to increase productivity. They could work in customer interaction roles where have daily contact with customers to determine product and or process changes. With a more experience, they could evolve into leadership roles where they are managing large teams with increased responsibility and deliverables.
I chose mechanical engineering because I felt it would give me a lot of options and flexibility to adjust to different career opportunities when they presented themselves. I started my career as a service engineer supporting turbochargers on diesel engines with various customers. I greatly enjoyed this role as it introduced to me to a great deal of technical learnings and helped me develop strong working relationships at many different levels. I also got to travel to customer locations and see the equipment in operation. I did enjoy the opportunities to travel as this was not something, I had been able to do before starting my career.
My current role involves me leading a warranty parts lab which involves managing a team of engineers, technicians, and documentation specialists. This role is a big change from what I was doing when I first started my career in service engineering. I have been able to do a wide range of roles such as service engineering, application engineering (direct integration work with customers), dynamometer test cell work with diesel/natural gas engines and getting the opportunity to lead and manage teams.
To conclude, I wanted to highlight that a career path in the mechanical engineering/technology field can vary greatly and provide many opportunities that might not always be apparent. My advice is to really determine what your interests are and what you enjoy doing. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes as this is how people really learn. I will also say don’t be discouraged if you choose a career path and find that is not what you really wanted. There will always be opportunities to change that path or make adjustments that better fit what you are looking for.
There is also the whole field of medical equipment and there is a lot you can do here.
There is a overlap between mechanical, aerospace and civil engineering too.
My son works for the US Navy as a mechanical engineer and design equipment that moves goods and weapons from ship to ship or ship to shore.
There are also fun things like state of the art mountain bikes that a mechanical engineer gets to design, prototype, build and test.
I graduated with a BS in ME and took my first job at a company designing and manufacturing read/write heads for hard disk drive storage devices. My first job responsibilities were designing mechanical fixturing for our manufacturing lines for a variety of different process steps in a manual assembly process.
Fixture design opened up a whole understanding of how to apply mechanical engineering to solve a specific process needs beyond just the fixture design itself. The fixtures needed to easy to operate, avoid introducing defects, reduce the number of manual moves by the operator to improve daily output, and also to not introduce ergonomic problems.
I moved on at that point to another company making the hard disk drives (HDD) end product. I started out with manufacturing fixture design at first, but then started designing the actual HDD components like the spindle motors which allowed me to work with overseas vendors to help them automate their manufacturing lines. Both of these fueled my desire to shift my career more towards manufacturing engineering where I could design whole manufacturing processes from end-to-end that achieved the highest quality, lowest cost, and highest output. I loved this pivot in my career.
I moved into a role with another company at that point and took on a Product Engineering role for many years that focused on how to bring products into the manufacturing factories. I then changed my career to designing processes that could be installed at customer sites or return centers. I then changed to managing a software development organization responsible for developing and releasing manufacturing test applications for factory manufacturing.
So to wrap this up, my ME degree really taught me how to (1) apply best engineering practices to solve any type of product or manufacturing problem and (2) how to research to gain more specific knowledge to solve problems. Try to use your degree to find a related job that then can launch your career in whatever direction is of the most interest. Don't box your self in to the typical paths of your degree over time. Find what interests you the most and don't be afraid of changing your career over time. And lastly - Have Fun!