Can I Become a Mechanical Engineering Technician with an Associates Degree?

Mechanical Engineering Technician

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Considering an online engineering associates degree? Wondering if it is possible to become a mechanical engineering technician with an associates degree? If so, the answer is yes. It absolutely is possible. An associates degree is a sufficient degree for this position. Successful mechanical engineering technicians generally follow the associates degree track. Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees in this major are found at junior colleges, trade schools, and career institutes. The National Center for Education Statistics counts 190 such associates degrees for future mechanical engineering technicians. That is a lot of possibilities to become a mechanical engineering technician. Two-year mechanical engineering technology programs lay the groundwork for technicians to develop efficient machinery. Let’s look at the benefits of becoming a mechanical engineering technician with an online engineering associates degree.

What Do Mechanical Engineering Technicians Do?

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A mechanical engineering technician does not work in the same capacity as a mechanical engineer. Instead, he or she assists mechanical engineers in carrying out critical duties. Mechanical engineering technicians aid in the design process of machines. Technicians follow the engineer’s blueprints or technical drawings for the development of new equipment. Mechanical engineering technicians help bring prototypes to life while meeting strict project development deadlines and budgets. Technicians implement the mechanical engineer’s orders to assemble and test cutting-edge machinery. Mechanical engineering technicians can make suggestions on tweaks to improve the end product. Technicians need approval to change the engineer’s plans before streamlining the manufacturing production process though. Here are some duties that a mechanical engineer may be tasked with:

  • Review mechanical project instructions and drafts
  • Calculate project dimensions to estimate product pricing
  • Use 3D computer-aided design software for modeling
  • Analyze predictive data like labor costs and production times
  • Write purchase orders for project supplies from vendors
  • Devise a production process for putting together machines
  • Inspect manufacturing assembly lines for efficiency
  • Conduct tests on each component of mechanical devices
  • Record testing measures, such as voltage and velocity
  • Follow the regulations for industrial and product safety
  • Submit reports to mechanical engineers on errors and flaws
  • Modify tested prototypes with drills, grinders, and other tools
  • Assist with developing guidelines for mass market production

Mechanical engineering technicians work to make any power-using or power-producing equipment. Mechanical engineering is a varied STEM specialty with a broad range of machines to build. For example, technicians may program robots with high-tech sensors to automate human tasks. Mechanical engineering technicians might focus on automotives and develop vehicles that enhance transportation. Technicians could design heating or cooling systems to regulate indoor air temperatures for people’s comfort. Mechanical engineering technicians can create electrical equipment like generators and turbines to power up energy. Technicians may specialize in manufacturing forceful engines for skyrocketing aircraft or spacecraft. Everything from elevators to electrocardiography machines can be made by mechanical engineering technicians.

What are the Requirements for Mechanical Engineering Technicians?

Mechanical engineering technicians normally need at least a post-secondary certificate for entry-level jobs. Trade schools often provide vocational diplomas for mechanical engineering technology. These short-term certificates take about a year to complete after high school. However, the majority of mechanical engineering technicians hold an associates degree. An associates degree is recommended for valuable, hands-on training in the complex STEM field. Getting an associates degree takes about 18-24 months full-time. Associates majors are available in mechanical engineering technology, mechatronics, mechanics, electromechanical engineering technology, and similar sub-fields. Associates graduates can receive optional credentials from the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies.

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Becoming a mechanical engineering technician demands a set of wide-ranging skills. Employers look for technical skills to effectively operate heavy industrial machinery with precision and safety. Mechanical engineering technicians need basic math skills to take measurements and calculate costs for new prototypes. Technicians must pay close attention to detail and have the organizational skills to keep project records tight. Mechanical engineering technicians do not have a final design say, yet creativity is essential to input suggestions. Problem-solving skills help technicians troubleshoot production errors for a better product. Mechanical engineering technicians must be able to communicate well and report to supervising engineers. Listening skills are required for technicians to take direction and implement instructions right. Today’s mechanical engineering technicians must be comfortable with computers and CAD software too.

Why Pursue an Online Engineering Associates Degree?

Online engineering associates degree programs allow undergrads to prepare for mechanical engineering technician jobs wholly on the internet. Students can choose from mechanical engineering schools across all 50 states online for a bigger variety. Associates majors can complete assignments and readings any time 24/7 for successful scheduling. Online learners frequently work part- or full-time to easily afford their mechanical engineering degree tuition. Commuting to a physical campus by car or subway is not necessary. Online students can use virtual classrooms from their home office and download cheaper electronic textbooks. Associates majors could even receive a free laptop or iPad for engaging in online mechanical engineering technology studies. Online classes also nurture the technological skills that mechanical engineering technicians need.

Associates degrees are becoming increasingly popular for their flexibility and fast turnarounds. In 2018-19, the National Student Clearinghouse found that 477,813 college-age pupils chose an associate degree first. Undergrads can complete their associate degree in four semesters and become a mechanical engineering technician. While working with a great salary, mechanical engineering technicians can pursue a bachelor’s with transferred associates credits. Collegiate 2+2 transfer pathways require only four extra semesters to become an engineer. Campus-based and online engineering associates degree costs are significantly lower. Community colleges frequently charge one-half or one-third of university tuition to save money. Associates students are also more likely to graduate given the shorter timeline and fewer responsibilities.

What Does an Online Engineering Associates Degree Entail?

Getting an online engineering associates degree requires at least 60-65 credits. Students springboard into the mechanical engineering technology curriculum after high school or GED completion. Associates degrees in mechanical engineering technology require several prerequisites in math and sciences. Freshmen start fundamental, 100-level STEM courses for general education. Most two-year associates programs begin with an orientation before collegiate English, algebra, physics, history, and statistics classes. From there, associates majors dive into major-related mechanical engineering courses. Online or in-person lectures are supplemented with hands-on laboratory projects. Mechanical engineering technicians in training complete class assignments to develop real-world career skills. The following are some common associates degree courses for mechanical engineering technicians.

  • Introduction to Programming
  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Thermodynamic Systems
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Mechanical Control Technology
  • Industrial Instrumentation
  • Computer Graphic Applications
  • Quality Process Control
  • Technical Communications

Associates degrees in mechanical engineering technology are not beholden to textbook learning. Most accredited programs integrate applied learning components for young apprentices. Aspiring mechanical engineering technicians get to improve their resumes with an internship or cooperative education arrangements. These paid or unpaid opportunities give associates majors a better idea of a mechanical engineering technician’s responsibilities firsthand. One or both semesters may entail workforce training for second-year students. Great companies with mechanical engineering internships include Bechtel, Northrop Grumman, Volvo, Boston Scientific, General Electric, Cisco Systems, Black & Veatch, Kiewit, and Boeing. Many online engineering associates degree options also culminate with a capstone course or project.

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Whether pursuing a campus-based or online engineering associates degree, it is important to choose an accredited school. Since 1932, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc. has been the trusted source for quality programs. Novice technicians who consider earning an associates degree should pick an ABET-accredited mechanical engineering technology college. Accreditation proves that the curriculum meets the training standards required by hiring engineering firms. Mechanical engineering technicians with ABET-accredited degrees can find employment at domestic or multinational corporations. Accreditation could determine whether mechanical engineering technology majors qualify for field scholarships. Transferring to a four-year bachelor’s program later can be harder without an ABET-accredited foundation too. Get an accredited associates education to ensure the best academic and workforce outcomes.

What is the Hiring Outlook for Mechanical Engineering Technicians?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted 3 percent job growth for mechanical engineering technicians. During the 2018-2028 time frame, there will be 1,100 jobs created for mechanical engineering techs. Employment levels will gradually grow from 42,600 to 43,800 techs nationwide. The U.S. mechanical engineering market is valued at around $401.6 billion. Manufacturing accounts for 11 percent of America’s total gross domestic product (GDP). Many engineering firms may contract technicians rather than engineers to save money internally and boost profits. Mechanical engineering techs are hired as assistants in many up-and-coming fields, such as robotics with 26 percent industry growth. As of May 2019, these are the top five states and metropolitan areas with the biggest number of mechanical engineering technicians.

  • Michigan: 4,700 technicians
  • California: 3,470 technicians
  • Texas: 3,410 technicians
  • Ohio: 2,760 technicians
  • Pennsylvania: 2,580 technicians
  • Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI: 3,060 technicians
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA: 1,650 technicians
  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX: 1,520 technicians
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI: 1,130 technicians
  • Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH: 1,010 technicians

In comparison to related careers, please note that the job outlook for mechanical engineering technicians is slower. By 2028, the BLS expects all occupations to swell by 5 percent. Let’s look at other online engineering associates degree career paths. Industrial engineering technicians will see a 1 percent field decline for 500 jobs lost. Openings for mechanical drafters will plummet by 7 percent for 4,000 fewer jobs. Electronics engineering technicians will compete for roughly 200 added jobs from 2018 to 2028. Civil engineering technicians will experience a 5 percent hiring uptick for 3,700 positions. The employment of surveying and mapping technicians will expand by 5 percent or 3,100 jobs. Demand for aerospace engineering technicians will increase by 4 percent for 500 positions.

How Much Money Can Mechanical Engineering Technicians Earn?

In May 2019, the Department of Labor calculated a mean annual wage of $59,160 for the 42,820 mechanical engineering technicians nationwide. This is equivalent to hourly earnings of $28.44. The top 10 percent of mechanical engineering technicians earn $88,640 on average. The bottom 10 percent of mechanical engineering technicians make an average salary of $35,140. Most mechanical engineering technicians bring home income of $44,170 to $72,140. The median pay of mechanical engineering technicians is $56,980 per year or $27.40 per hour. Here are the five top-paying states and metropolitan areas for mechanical engineering technicians.

  • New Mexico: $77,780
  • Louisiana: $76,790
  • Mississippi: $74,190
  • Connecticut: $68,480
  • North Dakota: $67,560
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: $95,820
  • Albuquerque, NM: $82,680
  • New Orleans-Metairie, LA: $80,270
  • Panama City, FL: $75,140
  • Boulder, CO: $74,900

The majority of mechanical engineering technicians (8,990) work for engineering firms with a $60,080 average salary. Machinery manufacturing companies offer median compensation of $56,850 each year. Scientific research and development institutes pay a mean $61,780 wage. Motor vehicle parts manufacturers present annual average earnings of $58,400. The highest-paid mechanical engineering technicians work at commercial equipment wholesalers for $89,680 on average. The audio and video equipment manufacturing sector gives the second-highest median wage of $78,320. Techs also find work in the fast-growing fields of automation, three-dimensional printing, medical manufacturing, and “green” energies like solar or wind.

For 2020, the U.S. News & World Report ranked mechanical engineering the #1 best engineering sub-specialty. Mechanical engineering techs can enter the 16th best STEM job with a low unemployment risk of 1.8 percent. Mechanical engineering technicians enjoy above-average career flexibility and upward mobility. Associates degrees could be the first step toward a long-lasting, lucrative future in the mechanical engineering universe. Technicians can return to school for a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) to advance quickly. Technicians can become mechanical engineers and claim a higher mean annual wage of $93,540. The more than 60 credits of an accredited online engineering associates degree will transfer for further understanding of how mechanical devices are designed.

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