Online Mechanical Engineering Degrees

Mechanical engineering entails the research, design, manufacturing, testing, and redevelopment of virtually anything with mechanical, moving parts. This includes tools, thermal sensors, engines, machines, generators, medical devices, elevators, robots, weapons, and more. A variety of industries, from aerospace and automotive, to biotechnology and environmental control, require mechanical engineers.

If you are analytical, detail-oriented, a good communicator, excel in mathematics and sciences, and enjoy solving problems, mechanical engineering could be the field for you. You can even earn your mechanical engineering degree online — from an associate degree to a master’s degree — affording you convenience and significant savings.

The job outlook for mechanical engineering is good, and it’s projected that job opportunities will continue to increase through 2024. Positions involved in the latest technologies will experience the largest increase in job opportunities and salary increases.

The following information offers you the knowledge needed to determine if a career in mechanical engineering is right for you. Learn more about the variety of online mechanical engineering degrees available today.

Online Mechanical Engineering Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $8,677 15.3% 2 years $49,579 $71,500 8.6%
Bachelor's $19,017 6.42% 4 years $58,557 $77,513 3.8%
Master's $19,181 5.88% 2 years $59,843 $83,689 3.8%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

Earners of bachelor’s degrees and higher have the most varied opportunities for job choice, advancement, and salary increases. The process for obtaining a professional engineering (PE) license can only begin after a bachelor’s degree is completed. However, there are many opportunities for associate degree holders, including technician positions. These roles require mechanical and technical skills to support the projects designed by a mechanical engineer. Mechanical engineering online degree programs are available from the associate to the master’s degree levels.

Online Mechanical Engineering Degrees

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Online Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering

While mechanical engineers typically hold a bachelor’s degree, associate degrees provide the education required for technician careers. These positions support mechanical engineers in the design, development, manufacturing, and testing of mechanical devices. Technician roles are commonly available in engineering services, manufacturing, quality assurance, research and development, and more. Many opt to earn their mechanical engineering degrees online.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Coursework is heavily focused on mathematics and sciences to provide students with the technical skills required in the mechanical engineering field. Courses include calculus, physics, materials science, and computer-aided drafting. A writing course is also required.

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Mechanical engineering, mechanical engineering technology, mechanical design

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Drafters, engineering technicians, mapping technicians, and mechanical engineering technicians

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $54,140 for drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians; $53,910 for mechanical engineering technicians. Mechanical engineering technicians working in research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences average the highest salaries.

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    Mechanical engineering technician employment will increase 2% from 2014-2024. Employment for drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians will decrease by 1%.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering

A bachelor’s degree is necessary to obtain entry-level employment as a mechanical engineer. Degrees are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET). It is critical to ensure your selected online mechanical engineering degree program carries this accreditation, as it is the basis for future licensure. The combination of mathematics, science, and technology courses, along with laboratory application, provide the required foundation for a career in the field. Internships and co-ops are often recommended in addition to course and lab work. Professional licensure is required for advancement beyond entry-level positions.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Courses combine theory and application of mathematics and sciences. They include several courses in calculus, physics, and chemistry. Machine design and mechanical engineering tools are other potential requirements. On-campus labs are necessary for most online degree programs.

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering technology are the typical majors available for bachelor’s degree programs. Many opt to pursue their mechanical engineering degrees online.

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Mechanical engineers, engineers, and materials engineers

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $83,590 for mechanical Engineers, $90,060 for engineers, and $91,310 for materials engineers

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    From 2014-2024, mechanical engineer employment will increase by 5%, Engineering employment by 4%, and materials engineer employment by 1%.

Online Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Master’s degrees in mechanical engineering are integral for advancement to management positions. Some programs offer concentrations in particular areas of study, while others provide a general approach to advanced coursework. A thesis may be required or offered as an option for additional credit. Those with advanced mechanical engineering degrees are positioned to work with the latest technologies and most innovative aspects of the field. Mechanical engineering online degrees at the master’s level are available.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    While some master of science in mechanical engineering degrees require concentrations, or tracks of study, others offer a general approach. Courses may include heat transfer, design methods, manufacturing and materials processing, thermodynamics, and fluid mechanics.

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Degree concentrations include manufacturing, mechanics, robotics and control, energy systems, and micro/nanoscale engineering, and more.

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Graduates typically obtain management positions, like chief mechanical engineer and project engineer.

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    Income increases with advanced degrees. The top 10% of mechanical engineers earn more than $128,430.

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    Total employment in the field of mechanical engineering (all occupations), will increase 7% between 2014-2024. Job prospects are best for mechanical engineers trained in computational design and simulation.

Online Doctorate Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers with doctoral degrees are leaders in their field. They primarily work in research and development, where they develop new findings to advance technology in their particular area of mechanical engineering. Doctorate candidates spend most of their course time researching and working on their dissertation. As such, this mechanical engineering degree is not available online.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering are centered on research. Research is completed around the selected area of study, such as biomechanics, computational science and engineering, materials, and many more. Dissertations and oral exams are required.

  • COMMON MAJORS

    DBA and PhD

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Doctorate degree earners typically work in research and development, consulting, and postsecondary education (teaching positions).

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    Income increases with advanced degrees. The top 10% of mechanical engineers earn more than $128,430.

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    Total employment in the field of mechanical engineering (all occupations), will increase 7% between 2014-2024.

Online Mechanical Engineering Choose Your Career

Average Mechanical Engineering Salaries

$53,910
$91,310
$83,590

Mechanical Engineering Technicians

Salary: $53,910
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
2% 48,400 Associates N/A

Mechanical engineering technicians assist mechanical engineers in the design, development, production, and testing of mechanical devices. They are central to the manufacturing process by analyzing product designs and specifications, creating sketches and layouts, reviewing blueprints, and recording and reviewing test data. Strong communication skills and keen attention to detail are required of mechanical engineering technicians. Mathematics and the practical application of mechanical skills are also necessary to accurately assist mechanical engineers with proper device development. Many online mechanical engineering degree programs are available for associate degree candidates.

Materials Engineers

Salary: $91,310
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
1% 25,300 Bachelor's N/A

Materials engineers analyze the structures of materials like ceramics, plastics, and metals to develop new materials with similar characteristics. These materials are then used in the manufacturing of a wide array of products, including LCD flat-panel displays, aircraft wings, and golf clubs. Materials engineers may also develop new ways of using materials, and identify existing ones best-suited for certain products. As extensive product development and testing is required, materials engineers must be strong problem-solvers, analysts, and mathematicians. Online mechanical engineering degree programs are an ideal academic path for those interested in pursuing a materials engineers career.

Mechanical Engineers

Salary: $83,590
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
5% 277,500 Bachelor's Professional licensure required

Mechanical engineers identify and solve problems with the mechanical devices they produce. Whether building tools, robots, escalators, or engines, they are involved in every aspect of the process — from design and development, to production and testing. Mechanical engineers excel in mathematics, problem-solving, and analysis. Creativity, flexibility, and excellent communication skills are also common traits. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, professional engineering licensure is required beyond entry-level positions. A wide variety of mechanical engineering degree programs are offered online.

Online Mechanical Engineering Professional Requirements

Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam may be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree (this can be a mechanical engineering online degree program). It is a 110-multiple choice question exam. Those who pass are called Engineers in Training (EIT) or Engineer Interns (EI). In addition to a bachelor’s degree, it is the next requirement toward earning a Professional Engineering (PE) license.

Is it required?

Recommended

How long will it take?

6 hours

Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Exam

The Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, commonly referred to as the Professional Engineering (PE) Exam, can be taken after successful passing of the FE Exam and after work experience requirements are met. These vary by state (typically four years) and must be verified with your particular state licensing board. The exam tests knowledge in a specific discipline of mechanical engineering. Passing the exam leads to licensure as a Professional Engineer.

Is it required?

Recommended

How long will it take?

8 hours

Maintaining Certification

Some states require recertification every year through continuing education courses. Professional organizations offer certification programs. Certification is recognized state-to-state, providing the requirements are comparable.

Is it required?

Yes

How long will it take?

Varies