Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Although engineers are usually thought of as builders, sometimes they must destroy a structure or geological formation with explosives. For example, mining engineers often use explosives to remove rock formations. The path to being an explosives engineer begins with an engineering degree.
Get an Early Start
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement to become a mechanical engineer, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you have already chosen that career path early, however, you can prepare yourself for more advanced education while still in high school. The Society of Women Engineers notes that you should take as many challenging math and science classes as your high school offers. Algebra, geometry and calculus are ideal, but if your high school doesn’t offer those, look for other mathematics classes. If possible, take the advanced placement exams for calculus and science as well.
Mechanical Plus Explosives
Once you arrive in college, you’ll take many more math and science classes. Most explosives engineers choose a degree in mechanical engineering for their basic education. A few schools, such as Missouri University of Science and Technology, offer degrees specifically in explosive engineering. New Mexico Tech offers programs in mechanical engineering with a specialization in explosive engineering. Typical courses specific to explosive engineering include detonation theory, pyrotechnics, explosives technology and applications, impact dynamics and shock physics.
An Additional Step
A bachelor’s degree might be sufficient for an entry-level position, but to improve your employment opportunities or advance in your profession, pursue a master’s degree. Some programs require that you complete a master's thesis, while others do not. Also, take courses to enhance your computer skills. Engineering is a profession that uses computers in numerous ways. Summer internships will help you gain experience. If possible, select a program that offers extensive hands-on experience with explosives.
The Little Extras
The BLS notes that if you offer your services directly to the public, you must be licensed in all states. You can take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam just before or after you graduate, but the Professional Engineer exam requires four years of experience. Expect stiff competition in the job market. The BLS projects that employment for all types of engineers will increase 9 percent from 2012 to 2022, but only 5 percent for mechanical engineers. That compares to an average of 11 percent for all occupations. A master’s degree and training in the latest computational design and simulation computer software tools might improve your chances of finding a job.
2016 Salary Information for Mechanical Engineers
Mechanical engineers earned a median annual salary of $84,190 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, mechanical engineers earned a 25th percentile salary of $67,070, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $106,420, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 288,800 people were employed in the U.S. as mechanical engineers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Mechanical Engineers
- Society of Women Engineers: High School Preparation for an Engineering Degree
- Missouri University of Science and Technology: Explosives Engineering
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Mechanical Engineers
- Career Trend: Mechanical Engineers
- Bildvision_AB/iStock/Getty Images