Mechanical engineer: job description
Mechanical engineers produce specifications for, design, develop, manufacture and install new or modified mechanical components or systems.
Mechanical engineers need to be technically minded, able to demonstrate numerical and scientific ability and have problem-solving skills.
Mechanical engineers can work on components and equipment for many industries including healthcare, power, transport and water.
Job responsibilities vary greatly according to the size and type of employer. However, duties typically include:
- assessing project requirements
- measuring the performance of mechanical components, devices and engines
- agreeing budgets, timescales and specifications with clients and managers
- maintaining and modifying equipment to ensure that it is safe, reliable and efficient
- using computer-aided design/modelling software
- liaising with suppliers
- undertaking relevant research
- producing and implementing designs and test procedures
- presenting designs to managers and clients
- testing, evaluating, modifying and re-testing products
- writing reports and documentation
- providing technical advice
- analysing and interpreting data.
- engineering, transport, manufacturing, construction and process companies
- research and development organisations
- utilities companies
- the Civil Service
- the armed forces
- government agencies.
Self-employment via consultancy and contract work is possible for individuals with several years' experience.
Jobs are advertised online, by careers services and recruitment agencies, in newspapers and in relevant publications including TARGETjobs Engineering, Automotive Engineer, Computer Weekly, The Engineer, Engineering, Engineering News and their respective websites.
- For help with applying for engineering jobs and internships, take a look at our engineering CV and covering letter tips and our advice on filling out online applications
- To find out how much money you could earn as an engineer, head to our engineering salary round-up
There are routes into this profession for both school leavers and university graduates. Graduates need a degree in a relevant subject such as mechanical, automotive or aeronautical or manufacturing engineering. A list of accredited courses is available on the Engineering Council’s website. Some employers will ask for a 2.1 degree but others will accept candidates with a 2.2 degree. Take a look at our list of engineering employers that accept 2.2 degrees.
If you are a school leaver, you may be able to enter the profession with a higher national diploma (HND) in a relevant subject such as mechanical engineering. If you are aiming for a technician role, you can achieve this with an advanced or higher apprenticeship in an appropriate subject such as manufacturing or mechanical engineering. To find out more about getting into engineering via a school leaver route, visit the engineering section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
Relevant work experience is useful: many employers offer final-year project work, degree sponsorship, vacation work and industrial placements which can provide valuable experience and a useful insight into the profession. Take a look at our list of engineering employers who offer industrial placements and summer internships.
Achieving chartered (CEng) status with the Engineering Council can help to demonstrate your professionalism and commitment to your field. To become chartered, you will need an accredited bachelors degree in engineering or technology, plus an appropriate masters degree (MEng) or doctorate (EngD) accredited by a professional engineering institution such as the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). You will also be eligible with an integrated MSc. To find out more, take a look at our guide to chartership.
- effective technical skills
- the ability to work under pressure
- problem-solving skills
- interpersonal skills
- verbal and written communication skills
- commercial awareness
- teamworking skills.
Read our article on the skills engineering employers look for for more information and then find out how you can prove you possess these competencies at engineering assessment centres.