Entry-level mechanical engineering jobs: What am I qualified for?

From construction to automotive to biomedical careers, entry-level mechanical engineering jobs exist all around you. Find your entry point to the field with one of these jobs.
Written by Melissa Sartore, Contributor

Entry-level mechanical engineering jobs fit individuals who want to know more about the field. 

If you have a degree in mechanical engineering or a related discipline, getting a mechanical engineering job helps you gain valuable experience. An entry-level job also gives you insight into mechanical engineering if you're looking to get a degree or make a career change. 

Identifying what kind of job you want and whether or not you meet the qualifications can be difficult. Here's what you need to know about landing an entry-level mechanical engineering job, what positions are available to you, and how to take the next steps. 

Landing an entry-level job in mechanical engineering

An associate or bachelor's mechanical engineering degree is one path to an entry-level job in the field. Vocational schools and community colleges also offer diplomas and certificates designed to train you for a role as an automotive, heating and cooling, or general engineering technician. 

These programs last two years or less and equip you with the knowledge and practical skills you need. Apprenticeships, internships, and training programs similarly provide you with what you need to get an entry-level job in mechanical engineering.

Experience alone may meet the requirements for some entry-level mechanical engineering jobs. Building a resume that highlights your skills may help you land a job.

Have strong people skills? Brush up on networking tips and try networking in person and on LinkedIn. Referrals, job boards and fairs, and working with a temp agency can also help you get your foot in the door. 

Mechanical engineering jobs for recent grads and career-switchers

Mechanical engineering professionals provide essential services as automotive and construction engineers. They also work in manufacturing, biomedical and environmental science, and mechanical design.

A quick Google search can help you identify the types of entry-level mechanical engineering jobs available locally, regionally, or nationally. Narrow your search by position and area on job search sites like ZipRecruiter, Monster, and Indeed.

Identifying the type of position you want can lead you to employer-specific job boards.

Entry-level job titles in these positions may include labels like "level 1," "junior," "associate," "aide," "apprentice," or even simply "entry-level."

Mechanical engineer

Salary expectations: $90,160 median annual salary (2020, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Skills needed: Knowledge of advanced mathematics, statics, material mechanics, heat transfer, and circuits; problem-solving skills; creativity; 2D and 3D computer-aided drafting and design

Mechanical engineers design mechanical and thermal equipment to solve mechanical problems. These professionals use computer-aided design software (such as AutoCAD and Revit), oversee the manufacturing process, and make adjustments, as needed. They develop, build, and test the devices and systems they create and identify ways to make improvements. 

Mechanical designer

Salary expectations: $61,660 average base salary (2022)

Skills needed: 2D and 3D computer-aided drafting and design, advanced mathematics and geometry, quality assurance knowledge, creativity, attention to detail

Mechanical designers, sometimes called drafters, design mechanical parts, devices, and systems. They design individual parts or entire machines via computer-aided design, revise their work as directed by mechanical engineers, and submit them for manufacture.

Mechanical designers create large and small devices for aviation equipment, aerospace technologies, vehicles, medical equipment, and consumer products. 

Electrical engineer

Salary expectations: $100,830 median annual salary (2020)

Skills needed: Organization, circuit design, attention to detail, problem-solving, familiarity with design software, Matlab proficiency

Electrical engineers oversee and participate in the design, manufacturing, testing, and installation of electrical equipment. They both create new products and work to improve existing ones. They often work closely with project managers.

Electrical engineers work in industries including manufacturing, research and development, power generation, and telecommunications.

Those with a mechanical engineering background may benefit from earning a master's in electrical engineering.

Biomedical engineer

Salary expectations: $92,620 median annual salary (2020)

Skills needed: Chemistry, physics, and biology; advanced mathematics; drafting and computer programming; problem-solving and analytical skills

Biomedical engineers incorporate knowledge of biology, medicine, and engineering in their work to create equipment, devices, and related technologies. Also called bioengineers, these professionals design, install, maintain, and provide support for biomedical equipment. They also train clinicians in using the equipment. 

Biomedical engineers may work in specialties including bioinstrumentation, biomaterials, genetic, and rehabilitation engineering.

Sustainability engineer

Salary expectations: $79,880 average base salary (2022)

Skills needed: Environmental science, conservation and efficiency standards, green resourcing, advanced mathematics

Sustainability engineers design and build structures, devices, and systems geared toward preserving and protecting the environment. Energy-efficient buildings, hydroelectric dams, water treatment systems, and air pollution control devices fall within the scope of a sustainability engineer. 

Sustainability engineers update and maintain plans, secure permits, and monitor environmental impacts and improvements that result from their projects. They also carry out maintenance and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

Automotive engineer

Salary expectations: $80,358 average base salary (2022)

Skills needed: Advanced mathematics, computer-aided drafting and design, computer programming, vehicle construction, analytical skills, creativity

Automotive engineers develop and improve upon components, mechanisms, and designs used for vehicles. They may create electrical components, program car software, or design entire vehicles. They also test vehicles to ensure compliance with automotive industry standards.

Automotive engineers work in an office or on a manufacturing floor and have an understanding of consumer demand and sales performance.

Civil engineer

Salary expectations: $88,570 median annual salary (2020)

Skills needed: Advanced mathematics, statics, mechanics and systems, and fluid dynamics knowledge; computer-aided design and drafting; surveying

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems. They work in the private and public sector alike. These professionals oversee the design and construction of roads, buildings, bridges, and facilities, including water and sewage treatment and conveyance systems.

Civil engineers review and analyze technical reports, plans, and other data to determine costs, hazards, and applicable regulations to projects.

An engineer-in-training (EIT) certificate is generally preferred for entry-level civil engineering jobs, and a professional engineer (PE) license is required for career advancement.

In conclusion

Getting an entry-level mechanical engineering job is one step to an fulfilling career in the field. 

Before you can take that step, you must decide which job is right for you and determine the education and experience you'll need to qualify.

This article was reviewed by Sierra Gawlowski, PE

Sierra Gawlowski, PE, earned her BS in civil engineering and is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Washington. She has worked for a private engineering consulting firm as well as for public agencies. Sierra enjoys mentoring engineering students and junior staff. She also leads a project team for Engineers Without Borders and currently sits on the board of directors for Kilowatts for Humanity.

Gawlowski is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. 

Last reviewed March 19, 2022.

Unless otherwise noted, salary data was drawn from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of April 6, 2022.

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