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1) What does a mechanical engineer's work hours look like?

2) Is it easy to get a job right out of college?
3) What is the starting pay like?
4) What different types of jobs reside inside this degree?
5) Is there a lot of stress in this job?

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John’s Answer

Mason-

Thank you for your questions. If I may, I'll try to answer ranges a little more:

1) What does a mechanical engineer's work hours look like?
You're likely to expect a minimum of 40 hours per week in any full-time mechanical engineering role. Referring to Drew's response, depending on industry, size of the organization, assigned responsibilities, etc this can be as high as 80+ hours per week. My experience has been a minimum of 40 hours a week and some 50 hours a week based on project needs.
2) Is it easy to get a job right out of college?
If you are the right candidate for the job, yes. If you're not, no. If you want to set yourself to be viewed as a "right candidate" then you'll apply yourself to your school work and other groups/extracurriculars
3) What is the starting pay like?
An average expectation would be the average starting salary in your area. I believe the national average is somewhere around $65K-$70K annually but that changes in areas relative to cost of living. There are also differences within industry, organization size, and what responsibilities you're expected to own
4) What different types of jobs reside inside this degree?
Wide range here. Product Development, Packaging, Manufacturing, Process Improvement, Project Management, Construction, Tooling... to name a few broad titles
5) Is there a lot of stress in this job?
In my experience, the jobs themselves bring a healthy amount of stress, or challenges to solve for. They get worse if one doesn't know their own limits (a life lesson to learn) and can also be influenced by the work culture you find yourself in
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Drew’s Answer

The answer to most of your questions is "It Depends." While the work is rewarding, and in some situations (like mine), it is fun. There can be long hours and tight deadlines. The nature of our work is exacting, and the accuracy of our conclusions is essential. As a forensic engineer in private practice, I have some control over the workflow. Working in manufacturing, government, or consulting in a larger organization may limit autonomy. I worked for the US EPA for twelve years and 41 years in active and reserve service to the US Navy. I didn't find either overly restrictive.
It is easy to get a job right out of college, and the pay is good. You can look up details in the "Occupational Outlook Handbook" available online.
Any employer who makes or operates things need mechanical engineers on staff or consultants.

Drew recommends the following next steps:

Occupational Outlook Handbook is a good source for many of your questions.
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Simon’s Answer

I like the other answers and agree with them, so I'm going to go in a little different direction. I'm a mechanical engineer and worked up to manage the engineering for North America for an international chemical company, with a staff of 50-70 engineers. I'm speaking from the project management side in the chemical industry. My group built and upgraded chemical facilities. A mechanical engineering degree can land jobs in many areas from machines and equipment design to facility design, buildings and infrastructure. Engineers are problem solvers. Engineers can work on concepts, as well as detailed design and construction supervision. Engineers observe, analyze, research, propose solutions and many times implement those solutions. Find an area that interest you and look into that particular industry. This should be your first engineering assignment....analyze, research...etc. Engineers usually work in an office or an field trailer. Over my 35 years of experience, engineers work whatever hours are needed to complete the job. Engineering time is expensive and you must produce good results for your department and/or customers. Mechanical engineers usually work as part a team and communications as well as teamwork are important. As an engineer you must manage your time as well as your project schedule. Efficient and well organized engineer usually work 40 hours a week, but during shutdowns can work 12 hours/day. I found the work interesting and challenging and very much enjoyed the work and results. Salaries vary by industry, but $60-80K/year is a good starting point.
To help get a job right out of college, get good grades, work on school projects, and try to get some engineering related job experience after school or during the summer. Your extracurricular activates will separate you from the crowd. Good luck. We always need good engineers!!!
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