Mechanical Engineering Technician
Associate degrees are becoming popular degrees, and students who aspire to work in the field on mechanical engineering often as the question, “Can I become a mechanical engineering technician with an associate’s degree?” The good news is that an associate degree is the ideal degree level for this position. Graduates of mechanical engineering technology programs may find several career options available to them.
Can I Become a Mechanical Engineering Technician with an Associate’s Degree
The most common path toward becoming a mechanical engineering technician is by completing an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering technology. This two-year programs can be found at community colleges, technical schools and vocational schools. A mechanical engineering technician does not work in the capacity of a mechanical engineer but assists the mechanical engineer in many of his or her duties. The experience gained working as a mechanical engineering tech is very valuable if the candidate chooses to earn a higher degree and pursue a career as an engineer.
What is the Curriculum Like?
Candidates interested in earning an associate degree in mechanical engineering technology should choose an ABET-accredited program because they offer the curriculum and training required by most engineering firms. Students enrolled in a mechanical engineering technology program should have a solid background in math and science courses. The curriculum includes classroom assignments, laboratory courses and an internship typically working for an engineering firm.
Although the student will complete some general education and major-related courses, a great deal of time is spent on lab courses. Course topics typically include the following.
- Introduction to Networking
- Digital Systems
- Engineering Math & Software Applications
- Programmable Logic Controllers
- Computer Configuration
Earning an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering technology is a good foundation for earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Graduates of the mechanical engineering technology program have the option to pursue work as a mechanical engineering technician or advance their education.
Career Outlook for Mechanical Engineering Technicians
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a five percent job growth for mechanical engineering technicians during the 2016-2026 decade. Many firms may contract mechanical engineering technicians from firms that specialize in these services as a way to save money internally. Although mechanical engineering technicians may work in various industries, the largest employers for these professionals are architectural, engineering and related services according to the bureau. The five states with the highest number of mechanical engineering technicians employed as of 2017 are:
- Michigan – 4,910 employees
- Texas – 4,210 employees
- California – 3,720 employees
- Ohio – 2,350 employees
- Illinois – 2,180 employees
Wage Potential for Mechanical Engineering Technicians
Mechanical engineering technicians earn wages ranging from $34,440 to $85,230 with the average yearly wage at $58,180.The average hourly wage for these professionals across the nation is $27.97. In addition to working in engineering firms, mechanical engineering techs may find work in the growing fields of robotics, 3-D printing, automation and alternative energies. The top five-paying states for mechanical engineering technicians and their wages are:
- Louisiana – $86,650
- Maine – $78,250
- New Mexico – $77,370
- Connecticut – $72,060
- Montana – $72,010
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The BLS states that about 2,300 new mechanical engineering jobs should open up nationwide by the year 2026. Becoming a mechanical engineering technician with an associate’s degree can be the start of a promising, rewarding and lucrative career.