Mechanical engineer:Job description
Mechanical engineers provide efficient solutions to the development of processes and products,
ranging from small component designs to extremely large plant, machinery or vehicles.
They can work on all stages of a product, from research and development to design and manufacture,
through to installation and final commissioning.
Most industries rely on a form of mechanical systems and mechanical engineering is thought to be
one of the most diverse of all engineering disciplines. Due to this, there are employment opportunities
in a wide range of sectors, including:
Mechanical engineers can be involved in the management of people and resources, as well as the
development and use of new materials and technologies.
Typical work activities
Projects that mechanical engineers work on can vary significantly, from researching and developing
medical products (such as mechanical hearts), to improving production processes in large oil
refineries or designing services within buildings.
Across all sectors, tasks generally include:
designing and implementing cost-effective equipment modifications to help improve safety and
developing a project specification with colleagues, often including those from other engineering
developing, testing and evaluating theoretical designs;
discussing and solving complex problems with manufacturing departments, sub-contractors,
suppliers and customers;
making sure a product can be made reliably and will perform consistently in specified operating
managing projects using engineering principles and techniques;
planning and designing new production processes;
producing details of specifications and outline designs;
recommending modifications following prototype test results;
using research, analytical, conceptual and planning skills, particularly mathematical modelling
and computer-aided design;
considering the implications of issues such as cost, safety and time constraints;
working with other professionals, within and outside the engineering sector;
monitoring and commissioning plant and systems.
Mechanical engineer:Salary and conditions
Starting salaries for mechanical engineers and for those on graduate training schemes are in the
range of $20,000 to $28,000.
With experience this can increase to between $25,000 and $35,000. At a mid-level for lead or
principle engineers salaries are around $35,000 to $50,000.
When a senior level is reached, such as chief engineer, salaries of $45,000 to $
60,000+ can be
Salaries vary from company to company and some sectors attract higher salaries, according to
Working hours typically include regular extra hours, but not usually weekends or shifts.
The work is mainly office-based with regular visits to plants, factories, workshops or building
sites. Factory production areas can be noisy.
Self-employment and freelance work are possible for qualified engineers with a good track record
and experience. Short-term contract or consulting work is also possible, often arranged through
Women are currently under-represented within chartered engineering, although there are
initiatives in place to try and encourage more women into the industry, such
as WISEand Women’s Engineering
Opportunities are usually available in towns and cities that have a strong manufacturing or
research base, or in regions where there is a local facility that supports specialist engineering.
Work is often to deadlines, particularly in consultancy work.
Dress code can vary from smart for office-based work to a hard hat and overalls when working
Travel within a working day is frequent. Absence from home overnight and overseas work or
travel may be required, depending on the employer and nature of the business.
There are many opportunities to work abroad, particularly throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle
East and Australia. It is possible to gain professional recognition in other European countries and
chartered engineers can apply for European engineer status (Eur Ing).
Mechanical engineer:Related jobs
Building services engineer
Control and instrumentation engineer
Manufacturing systems engineer
Technical sales engineer