Mechanical engineers are a special set of professionals. They have a role to play in a variety of industries and sectors, and are often fundamental to the success of a businesor pumps and valves.s.The work is all about designing and implementing the moving parts in machinery and other items. These moving parts are often the main driving force behind a product’s success.
So what does a mechanical engineer do? The core task is to help create and develop parts that are usually a component of a larger process. This means that any company or organisation that manufactures anything, or helps manufacture anything, will most likely be in need of a qualified mechanical engineer. You will also most likely be required to use the specialist knowledge you have gained with your prior training.
Add to that the fact that mechanical engineering has many facets to it, with a great degree of flexibility in functions, and you have a very popular career choice.
A good example of an industry that shows how wide-ranging the projects can be is the materials and metals industry. Within this industry, a mechanical engineer will find themselves working on the design, creation and testing of some very complex plant machinery. In addition, they will have key input on managing the maintenance cycle for the plant. This can include working with gas turbines for example, or pumps and valves.
What’s it all about?
Well, it’s truly an important role. When it comes to the actual duties and processes you will be responsible for, they can include the following:
- Research and development work. A big part of innovation, for example, is undertaken by mechanical engineers. From building a prototype to delivering a fully-realised product
- The drawing up of project specifications for a build
- The development and testing of new designs. It’s often the case that a mechanical engineer will be tasked with full responsibility for this
- The planning and development of new processes in production
- Equipment safety, in that a mechanical engineer may have updated a product so that it is safe for use
- Discover and implement new technologies
- Make cost-effective products, taking into account engineering principles
How do you get there?
Anyone who wants to enter the profession will find that a good honours degree is the accepted prerequisite for becoming a mechanical engineer.
However, it is important to know that some businesses out there are looking for talent more than they are looking for degree standards. It is not unknown for a person entering the profession to do so with less than honours.
There are a number of degrees that employers will feel are good ‘ways into’ mechanical engineering. The following list is not exhaustive, but it should give you an idea as regards the diversity the profession allows for:
- Agricultural engineering
- Computer-aided engineering
- Science engineering
- Manufacturing engineering
Some mechanical engineers also pursure post-grad qualifications. However it is not vital that you have a postgrad degree.
In the United Kingdom there are some professional bodies such as The Institution of Mechanical Engineering that you are strongly advised to join. Such a organisations offer protection, industry news and advice on securing jobs.
Below is a list of the skills that employers will find attractive:
- Great communications skills
- A willingness to be a team player
- IT skills especially useful in computer-aided design
- An ability to work with the public
- An ability to work under pressure
Manufacturing companies seem to be the natural choice for mechanical engineers. However many other industries need professional mechanical engineers.
Mechanical engineers can find themselves working in one of many different industries including:
- Energy utility companies
- Medical engineering
- Transport engineering
- Sports engineering
- Military engineering, across all the forces
Any organisation that makes anything can become an employer. It’s this wide net of industries that make it such an attractive career prospect.
Show me the money
Graduates who enter the profession can expect to earn between £20k and 28k. This is a very competitive pay structure for a new graduate.
Like many careers, experience pays off. After settling in, you can build up your salary so that you are earning between £35k and 50k. The very top of the profession as regards earnings is around £60k.