Mechanical engineers research, plan and design engines, machines, sensors and other mechanically functioning equipment. They oversee building, installation and testing, including large-scale appliances and machinery such as air, heating, water, steam and gas systems.
Mechanical engineers investigate problems with machinery and system failures, implementing repairs as needed. They may also be called upon to inspect existing or prototype machinery and make recommendations for a redesign.
Duties and responsibilities
- Analyse problems and invent mechanical tools, engines or equipment to solve or improve issues
- Research and design mechanical devices, tools and equipment to meet requirements and standards
- Create and interpret blueprints, schematics, technical drawings or digital data reports
- Evaluate customer design proposals for feasibility, cost, environmental impact and maintenance needs
- Oversee building, operation and maintenance of engines, machines and large-scale mechanical systems
- Monitor all aspects of production, including materials, manufacturing methods and quality standards
- Develop and implement testing procedures and prototypes, and evaluate results
- Investigate faulty equipment or systems and effect repairs or suggest elements for redesign
- Collaborate with engineers, designers, clients and other personnel on design and operation issues
- Establish safety protocols, service schedule and maintenance materials requirements
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Overtime work possible
Mechanical engineers typically work in an office during normal business hours. They may travel to worksites to observe, troubleshoot or repair machinery.
They engineers usually work on large teams with other engineers, technicians and other experts.
Mechanical engineering jobs are available in several different sectors, including architecture, engineering, machinery manufacturing, the automotive industry and computer manufacturing. Depending on the project, you may need to work outside to inspect building sites or outdoor machinery. There can be potential for injury when visiting work sites, so protective gear such as hard hats, safety glasses and shoes may be required.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering
Most mechanical engineers have a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. The latter focuses more on practical application and is often offered as part of a cooperative education programme that combines classroom study and work experience.
Some colleges and universities also offer a combined bachelor's and master's degree for five years of study. While entry-level mechanical engineering jobs don't ask for licensure, it is essential for promotion and required by law for independent contractor work. You'll need a degree from an ABET-accredited school, passing grades on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Professional Engineering (PE) exams, and four years of relevant experience.
You may need to participate in continuing education to maintain your licence.
Entry-level mechanical engineers may begin work alongside a more experienced engineer. Gaining PE licensure will help you earn more responsibility and lead to supervisory roles. As you gain experience in the field, you may pursue specialisation in mechanical engineering. Specialised areas include robotics, auto research and manufacturing.
A PhD. can lead to academic and research roles. Some mechanical engineers may prefer to earn graduate degrees in business administration to assist them in landing project management jobs. You may wish to start your own business as a licensed PE, offering your expertise to various industries.