Are you scientifically, analytically and mathematically oriented? Are you interested in designing and producing safe, efficient and effective products, equipment and materials? Would you understand and enjoy administering tests for viscoelasticity, experimental stress, stretch, yield and bending? If so, a career in engineering mechanics could be for you.
Engineering mechanics has strong ties to the areas of physics and mathematics and lays the foundation for much of the mechanical sciences. This field of engineering science assesses the response of particles and structures to torque and force in static and dynamic settings. Engineering mechanics applies to all engineering disciplines. As a graduate of an engineering mechanics program, you could choose to work in the power, appliance, automotive or aerospace industries as well as in civil and mechanical engineering fields, to name a few.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some areas in engineering that were expected to see the most growth included biomedical engineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering and petroleum engineering. The BLS also reported some of the highest paid engineers worked in petroleum, nuclear, computer hardware and aerospace engineering.
In 2008, the BLS predicted jobs for petroleum engineers would increase 18% by 2018, and the average wage for these professionals was $127,970 in 2010. Biomedical engineers were expected to see a 72% increase in jobs during the same period, though they averaged almost 51% less than petroleum engineers in 2010, earning about $84,780. Nuclear engineers were only projected to see average growth of 11% within the 2008-2018 decade, though they also made higher salaries, averaging $101,500 in 2010. Aerospace and computer hardware engineers each earned averages around $100,000. However, the BLS reported job growth rates around ten percent for those who specialize in aircraft and spacecraft design, while engineers in the technology industry could be affected by outsourcing and foreign companies, which was expected to result in a low growth rate of four percent (www.bls.gov).
Alternatively, you could choose to teach. The BLS expected college teaching jobs to increase 15% from 2008-2018. Engineering professors and teachers at the college level made an average salary of $96,480 in 2010.
In high school, you can prepare for college-level engineering courses with classes in engineering, physics, mathematics, computers, electronics and design. To qualify for many engineering jobs, you could pursue a bachelor's degree in engineering mechanics, though many schools offer specific majors in engineering disciplines, such as mechanical engineering, civil engineering, aerospace engineering and biomedical engineering. Coursework generally stresses both the theoretical and applied aspects of mechanics, and your classes might cover continuum mechanics, computational mechanics and engineering science. You could also participate in research projects and teaching assistantships at the undergraduate level.
Though a bachelor's degree is usually sufficient for most engineering positions, you could pursue graduate studies if you're interested in research or college-level teaching. Doctoral programs in engineering mechanics often comprise at least three years of study and could allow you to work in areas of research, such as multiscale materials modeling, microstructural evolution in materials processing, molecular biomechanics or deformation and failure in thin films. Master's degree programs also include research in materials engineering, fluid mechanics and structural mechanics. Engineering mechanics programs are often interdisciplinary in nature, incorporating studies in mechanical, civil, chemical and environmental disciplines.
You can work as an engineer or engineer technician without a license, as long as you work under the supervision of a licensed professional. However, you can earn an engineering license after completing an accredited bachelor's degree program and obtaining at least four years of engineering experience. Additionally, if you'd like to work as a high school teacher, you'll need to pass state teaching exams. Licensure isn't required if you teach at the college level.