If you are interested in the mechanical engineering field, there are various career options available to you. While becoming a mechanical engineer traditionally requires a bachelor's degrees, other positions--such as engineering technician--can usually be started with a 2-year associate's degree in engineering technology.
Today, over 700 accredited engineering technology programs can be found throughout the U.S. Other possible career paths include becoming a machinist. Most machinists typically train at trade schools, taking courses in materials science, blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, physics, and more.
Some trade schools have arrangements with apprenticeship programs, allowing you to undertake paid shop training while completing your classroom instruction. For aspiring mechanical engineering technicians, you may take courses in mechanical design, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and more.
Careers in the Field of Mechanical Engineering
Machinists typically use machine tools (like lathes and milling machines) to create precision metal parts. Production machinists produce large amounts of one specific part with extreme precision using CNC machines. These machines follow a computer program that controls the cutting speed and performs all of the necessary cuts. A CNC operator or programmer writes the actual instructions for the CNC machine, unless you're a machinist trained in CNC programming in which case you may write basic programs yourself.
You could also work as a mechanical engineering technician and help design, develop, test, and manufacture industrial machinery and other equipment. This might involve assisting in product tests, creating sketches, analyzing data, and estimating costs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, machinists earned an annual mean wage of $37,490 and mechanical engineering technicians earned $50,040.