California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

   Mechanical Engineers in California

May also be called: Equipment Engineers; HVAC Engineers; Internal Combustion Engineers; Mechanical Design Engineers; Mechanical Research Engineers; Product Engineers; Tool and Die Engineers

Specialties within this occupation include: Automotive Engineers; Fuel Cell Engineers

What Would I Do?

Mechanical Engineers* research, design, manufacture, and test aircraft, vehicles, robots, biomedical instruments, computer systems, and other mechanical devices.

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical Engineers apply the principles of science and mathematics to work on power-producing machines, for example, electric generators; internal combustion engines; fuel cells; wind, steam, and gas turbines; and energy storage devices, such as hybrid vehicle batteries. They also work on power-using machines, such as machine tools, material-handling systems, and robots used in manufacturing. Engineers may design heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) or water systems to improve energy efficiency. Engineers make sure products meet design and performance requirements or environmental regulations.

Green Economy: Mechanical Engineers will play an important role in the emerging green economy. Some will assist with the research and design of renewable energy components or energy-efficient systems. Others will work on green construction technology or transportation-related solutions to reduce environmental impacts.

Most Mechanical Engineers work in office buildings, laboratories, or industrial plants. They may spend time on factory floors where it can be noisy and hot. They may also be required to be trained in proper safety procedures and may wear protective equipment, such as hard hats, safety glasses, or hearing protection. Some Engineers travel to worksites in the United States or abroad.

Engineers generally work a 40-hour week; however, deadlines may bring extra pressure to a job, requiring longer work hours, which may include weekends and holidays.

*This product was partially funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration. The information contained in this product was created by a grantee organization and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. All references to non-governmental companies or organizations, their services, products, or resources are offered for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement by the Department of Labor. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it and is intended for individual organizational, non-commercial use only.

Will This Job Fit Me?

Mechanical engineering may appeal to those who enjoy working with ideas and activities that require an extensive amount of thinking and include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.

Aspiring Engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, detail oriented, and like working with tools and machinery. They must be able to work independently as well as part of a team. Effective oral and written communication skills are critical.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2015 for Mechanical Engineers in California was $97,290 annually, or $46.77 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2015Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$75,135$97,290$122,031
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2015 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Mechanical Engineers generally receive medical, dental, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, holiday, and retirement benefits. Some employers may also offer additional benefits, such as profit sharing, disability insurance, or education assistance.

What is the Job Outlook?

Most job openings will be created by the need to replace Mechanical Engineers who retire, transfer to management positions, or leave the field for other reasons. However, additional opportunities outside of mechanical engineering may exist because the skills acquired in this field can often be applied in other specialties, such as aerospace, battery, biomedical, or mechatronic engineering. Green economy activities and technologies may also increase the demand for Mechanical Engineers.

How Do I Qualify?

A bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or a related field is generally the minimum educational level that employers will consider for Mechanical Engineer positions. Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in design, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and hands-on laboratory classes. Advanced computer skills are also vital to the Engineer's education. Research or university teaching positions usually require a master's or doctoral degree.

The professional engineering (PE) license is generally not required in mechanical engineering fields, but possession of the license may enhance one's chances of employment or promotion. However, Mechanical Engineers who approve engineering documents or whose work may affect the public are required to obtain a PE license, which must be renewed every two years.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Internet job listings, job fairs, college career centers, or engineering associations may also provide job leads. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).


Learn More About Mechanical Engineers