Pros and Cons of Becoming a Dynamics Engineer
Dynamics engineering is a concentration of mechanical engineering related to the design of buildings and transportation vehicles. It is one of the largest disciplines in the field. The following table lists the major pros and cons of this profession:
|Pros of Becoming a Dynamics Engineer|
|Entry-level jobs can be obtained with just a bachelor's degree*|
|Top ten percent earn around $126,000 annually (May 2014)*|
|A concentration of the most widely-applicable engineering discipline*|
|May find work in a variety of industries*|
|Cons of Becoming a Dynamics Engineer|
|Job growth of only five percent expected from 2012-2022*|
|Advanced degrees may be required for higher-level jobs*|
|Licenses are required to offer engineering services*|
|Some positions require 60 hours a week or more*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description and Duties
Mechanical engineers create new mechanisms and find ways to make existing ones work more efficiently. These professionals may play a part in either process, from creating a new design to implementing and maintaining it. Dynamics engineers work specifically with the kinetics and force of a mechanism. They design mechanisms to perform in accordance with the amount of force, friction and movement that will be required.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the major employers for mechanical engineers are engineering firms, aerospace industries and scientific research and development services (www.bls.gov). Another avenue for these professionals is the automotive industry, especially in areas like fuel efficiency and exploration of new hybrid vehicle design. Mechanical engineers can also be found in niche areas, such as animatronics. Some of the highest paying industries include unexpected areas such as bakeries and tortilla manufacturing, as well as spectator sports.
Job Prospects and Salary Info
The BLS predicted that mechanical engineers would only see a five percent increase in job opportunities in the 2012-2022 decade, which is considered slightly lower than average when compared with other occupations. The BLS also listed the annual mean wage for mechanical engineers in May 2014 at approximately $87,000. Among the top 90% of these workers, wages were listed at just over $126,000. Alaska, Delaware and New Mexico paid the highest wages while Michigan, California and Texas employed the largest amount of mechanical engineers.
The career path for dynamics engineers begins with the completion of a Bachelor of Science degree program. Mechanical engineering programs typically include sequences in calculus and physics, as well as foundational engineering courses, including dynamics. During the final two years, you will take coursework in advanced topics such as fluid dynamics and heat transfer.
In addition to completing a degree program, individuals must become licensed to offer engineering services. This requires passing two exams. The first exam, the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE), may be taken near the completion of an undergraduate program. After passing the FE, you must gain four years work experience before you may take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. Passing the PE typically completes the licensing process. Individual states may have their own standards for licensure. Continuing education is typically required to remain licensed.
Job Postings From Real Employers
Many employers prefer hiring engineers with more years of field experience than engineers with advanced degrees. One very common factor in searching for dynamics engineering jobs is the request for a degree in mechanical engineering. The following examples were taken from April 2012 job postings:
- An Ohio firm was seeking a dynamics engineer with experience in vibrations. The company would like someone with a Master of Science (MS) degree but would accept a candidate with a BS and five years of relevant experience.
- An agricultural equipment company in Iowa is seeking someone to run experiments. Ideally, the engineer would have off-road vehicle experience and a strong thermodynamics background.
- A spaceflight firm in Arizona is seeking a dynamics engineer to become a launch model designer. They would like to hire an engineer with a BS in aerospace or mechanical engineering plus two years of experience in aerospace systems.
How to Stand Out
Although there are states that don't require continuing education to maintain a PE, it's important to maintain your education and stay up-to-date. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) offers e-learning courses that are tailored to specific aspects of mechanical engineering. The ASME also presents seminars and workshops designed to keep engineers abreast of the latest innovations and trends. Certification in relevant subjects can also be earned through the ASME.
Alternative Career Options
If you love the idea of dynamics engineering, but are interested in careers with higher job growth forecasts or lighter education requirements, here are some alternate career paths you may consider.
Mechanical Engineering Technician
You can begin to explore the world of mechanical engineering with just an associate's degree as a mechanical engineering technician. These individuals work with engineers and assist them by performing design modifications and other important tasks. The BLS predicted that these technicians would only see a four percent increase in job growth from 2010 to 2020. Despite the sluggish job growth, the annual mean wages for this profession was reported at almost $53,000 in May 2011.
College professors generally need a doctoral degree, especially for tenure-track jobs. Two-year technical colleges sometimes hire teachers with only a master's degree, but competition for these positions can be high. The BLS predicted that college professors could see an employment increase of 17% from 2010-2020. As of May 2011, professors who taught engineering earned an annual mean wage of approximately $97,000.