Career Development

What Does a Mechanical Engineer Do?

Find out what a mechanical engineer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a mechanical engineer.

Mechanical engineers are responsible for the design, development and implementation of new products. They’re tasked with taking an idea from concept to reality by applying their knowledge of physics, mathematics and engineering principles to create functional machines or systems that meet specific requirements.

Mechanical engineers may work on a wide range of projects, from designing medical devices to building robots or even creating cars that run on alternative fuel sources. Whatever they’re working on, their goal is always the same: to create something that works as intended while meeting all relevant safety standards.

Mechanical Engineer Job Duties

Mechanical engineers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Ensuring that machinery meets building codes and regulations regarding fire safety, electrical wiring, and other matters
  • Working with other engineers to develop new technologies for use in manufacturing processes
  • Developing new design concepts for existing machines or creating new designs for unbuilt machines
  • Determining how to manufacture new products using the latest technology and materials
  • Conducting research on new materials and techniques to improve existing products or develop new ones
  • Designing new products such as engines, turbines, boilers, robotics, robotics equipment, medical devices, computer peripherals, consumer electronics, aircraft components, ships, submarines, satellites, computers, and communication devices
  • Applying knowledge of mechanics, materials science, chemistry, physics, engineering principles, and computer modeling to design new products or improve existing ones
  • Conducting feasibility studies and cost analyses of new designs to ensure they are financially viable
  • Preparing detailed blueprints and working drawings of parts used in manufacturing

Mechanical Engineer Salary & Outlook

Mechanical engineer salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of company they work for. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $85,000 ($40.87/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $145,000 ($69.71/hour)

The employment of mechanical engineers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Demand for mechanical engineers will stem from demand for new types of machinery and equipment. For example, demand for these workers is expected to be high in the automotive industry as companies seek to improve fuel efficiency and power density in engines.

Mechanical Engineer Job Requirements

A mechanical engineer typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most employers require mechanical engineers to have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. These programs typically include coursework in mathematics, engineering, design and business.

Training & Experience: Most of an engineer’s training will take place through formal education, but they can also receive on-the-job training. Some employers will require new mechanical engineers to complete internships before hiring them. During an internship, a student or recent graduate will work under the supervision of a current engineer to learn more about the industry and the responsibilities of the job.

Certifications & Licenses: Mechanical engineers need a Professional Engineer certification to access high-level jobs, as well as specific certifications related to the area of engineering in which they wish to work.

Mechanical Engineer Skills

Mechanical engineers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Technical skills are the practical skills that you use to complete tasks. These skills can include knowledge of computer programs, software and equipment. They can also include the ability to read and interpret technical documents, like blueprints and schematics.

Communication skills: Communication skills are necessary for mechanical engineers because they often work in teams and need to convey ideas and information to other team members. They also need to be able to listen to and understand the ideas and questions of their colleagues.

Problem-solving skills: Mechanical engineers are often tasked with finding solutions to complex problems. This can involve finding ways to improve the efficiency of a machine, reducing the weight of a car or finding ways to make a product more affordable.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is a crucial skill for mechanical engineers, as it ensures they create safe and effective designs. Attention to detail can also help you save time and resources in the long run, as it allows you to notice and fix potential issues before they become larger problems.

Leadership skills: Leadership skills can be very useful for mechanical engineers, as they can be responsible for managing a team of other engineers. This can include assigning tasks, delegating responsibilities and providing guidance.

Mechanical Engineer Work Environment

Most mechanical engineers work in engineering services, research and development, and manufacturing. Many mechanical engineers work in industries that manufacture transportation equipment, such as automobiles, aircraft, and railroad equipment. Others work in the manufacturing industries of other types of machinery, such as chemical and metal-processing equipment, engines, and turbines. Many mechanical engineers work in office settings, where they have access to computers and other types of engineering and manufacturing software. They also may visit worksites to observe a problem or a piece of complex machinery. Some mechanical engineers travel extensively to worksites all over the world.

Mechanical Engineer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how mechanical engineers work. Mechanical engineers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Diversity in the Workforce

The need for more diversity in the workforce is a trend that is being driven by a number of factors, including the increasing global economy and the need for businesses to be more inclusive.

As mechanical engineers play a key role in product development, they will need to be able to work effectively with people from different backgrounds in order to create products that are both innovative and marketable. This requires an understanding of how to communicate effectively with people from different cultures and backgrounds.

More Collaboration Between Engineering Disciplines

As engineering becomes more complex, there is a growing need for collaboration between different disciplines. This is because many engineering projects now require input from multiple areas in order to be successful.

Mechanical engineers can capitalize on this trend by developing strong relationships with other engineers in their field. This will allow them to work together on projects and share ideas and information that can help each team member become more successful.

Greater Use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

Virtual reality and augmented reality are quickly becoming popular tools for product design and development. These technologies allow designers to see their ideas come to life in a virtual environment before they are ever built.

This allows mechanical engineers to test the functionality of their designs and make changes as needed before they are produced in large quantities. It also allows them to collaborate with other members of the design team in a virtual space, which can save time and money.

How to Become a Mechanical Engineer

A mechanical engineer career path can be very rewarding. It offers the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, use your creativity and problem-solving skills, and make a difference in people’s lives.

To become a successful mechanical engineer, you need to have a strong foundation in math and science, as well as engineering design and drafting skills. You should also be able to work independently and be comfortable with complex problems.

If you want to become a mechanical engineer, start by getting a degree in engineering or engineering technology. Then, build up your experience by working on projects that involve designing and building mechanical systems.

Related: How to Write a Mechanical Engineer Resume

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance in the field of mechanical engineering. One of the best is to get an advanced degree, which will enable you to apply for research, teaching, or management positions that are not otherwise open to you. For example, a mechanical engineer with a master’s degree in business administration may become a project manager, while one with a PhD in mechanical engineering may become a research director.

Another way to advance in this field is to become a certified professional engineer. To do this, you must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, pass a state examination, and have four years of experience in the field. Once you are a certified professional engineer, you may become a registered professional engineer, which allows you to stamp and seal engineering drawings and documents.

Finally, you may advance in your career by taking on more responsibility at your job. For example, you may become a project manager or a department head. As you gain more experience and expertise, you will be able to take on more complex projects and responsibilities.

Mechanical Engineer Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we design, develop, and manufacture products that improve the quality of people’s lives. We’re looking for a mechanical engineer to join our team and help us continue to develop innovative products. The ideal candidate will have experience with mechanical engineering principles, as well as CAD software. He or she will be responsible for developing mechanical designs for new products, as well as improving the designs of existing products. The mechanical engineer will also be responsible for testing the products to ensure they meet the required specifications.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as the technical lead on projects, providing engineering support from concept through implementation
  • Develop project scopes of work and budgets, in collaboration with other team members
  • Conduct feasibility studies to assess the technical viability of proposed projects
  • Prepare engineering calculations, drawings, and specifications as needed
  • Manage and coordinate the work of outside consultants and vendors when necessary
  • Obtain all required permits and approvals for projects
  • Oversee the construction phase of projects, ensuring that work is completed according to plans and specifications
  • Commission new mechanical systems and equipment
  • Diagnose and troubleshoot existing mechanical systems
  • Perform regular maintenance and repairs on mechanical systems
  • Keep abreast of new developments in the field of mechanical engineering, and incorporate into designs as appropriate
  • Prepare reports and presentations on the status of projects, as well as proposed changes and modifications

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, or related field
  • 3-5 years experience as a mechanical engineer
  • Proficient in CAD software (SolidWorks, AutoCAD, etc.), with ability to create 3D models
  • Experience with FEA analysis tools (ANSYS, ABAQUS, etc.)
  • Working knowledge of GD&T standards
  • Strong understanding of physics and mechanics principles
  • Excellent math skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in mechanical engineering
  • PE license
  • 7+ years experience as a mechanical engineer
  • Experience with CFD analysis tools (FLUENT, STAR-CCM+, etc.)
  • Project management experience

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