Mechanical Engineering: Develop Your Career and Find the Best Jobs

They help improve the technological advance of biomedicine by developing improved artificial limbs, pacemakers, and more. They make commercial, industrial, and residential buildings safe with increasingly more efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. 

We owe them the ever-increasing safety of our vehicles, be they school buses or family vans. Mechanical engineers are everywhere, serving as the building blocks of so many industries. 

With such a widely applicable profession, mechanical engineering jobs are in demand and they can give you a versatile career. But, you need to understand the responsibilities that come with the territory, and make sure you apply for the right certifications to qualify for the best jobs in mechanical engineering. 

What Do Mechanical Engineers Do?

As one of the broadest engineering disciplines, mechanical engineering provides a whole host of professional development opportunities. That alone makes this job exceptionally versatile, so your roles and responsibilities will greatly vary from one industry to another.

Still, there are certain shared tasks and skills you can expect as part of the job, no matter your specific niche. 

So, what does a mechanical engineer do in a day? From working closely with other staff members on the project to operating different types of machines and technology, mechanical engineers embrace many diverse assignments. Your role will depend on the industry, seniority, experience, and your certifications.

For instance, a mechanical engineering technician will often work alongside and assist a mechanical engineer in charge, to help with designing, developing, and maintaining all kinds of mechanical devices. 

Is mechanical engineering hard? Absolutely, but it is as rewarding as it is demanding, making it a great career choice for those who are ready to learn and advance their knowledge and skills.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash 

A photo showing the hands of a mechanical engineer building an agricultural robot.

Mechanical Engineer Job Description

If you’re looking to develop your mechanical engineering career, you should understand the ins and outs of the job in that general sense that applies to all industries. 

Of course, you’ll be able to develop your career within specific types of mechanical engineering which will entail new and unique roles and responsibilities. 

Assess an issue that can be solved with a mechanical device, and determine the most appropriate design/development solution for it.

  • Work with other team members to design the prototype and the production protocol for manufacturing.
  • Conduct the necessary tests to ensure the quality of the product and to make sure the end device has all the right specifications.
  • Adapt the design based on the tests, if necessary.
  • Monitor the manufacturing process and work closely with the manufacturing team.
  • Develop maintenance protocols and plans for that specific device. 

For example, a project in sustainable development can include working on mechanical solutions for smarter and more efficient energy consumption, such as developing wind turbines and the like. In biomedicine, a mechanical engineer might need to develop a custom mechanical limb, or a solution that can help monitor and regulate the wellbeing of patients. 

In robotics, mechanical engineers can develop robotic tools to complete jobs that are difficult or too risky for humans. In aerospace and automotive industries, the job might entail working on developing fuel-efficient engines and safer vehicle designs. 

Then again, a mechanical design engineer specialises, as the name implies, in designing mechanical devices. That means that you would narrow down your specialty on that particular part of the mechanical engineering process, which is applicable across all industries where mechanical engineers are needed.

As you can see, the versatility alone makes this career path appealing for those who like exploring different options and mastering new skills.

Electrical vs Mechanical Engineering

To the untrained eye, both of these disciplines sound indistinguishable, as they entail so many of the same skills, including problem-solving, mathematics, mechanics, and creativity. However, before you choose your own academic direction, you should know that the two differ, albeit with some overlaps in application.

Electrical engineers work primarily on discovering and improving power generation, while mechanical engineers focus on applying that power in a mechanical sense, to improve how certain mechanical devices operate and use that power.

How to Become a Mechanical Engineer?

Because the jobs in this discipline come with such high levels of responsibility, mechanical engineering requirements are fairly high if you want to work in this field. For starters, you need to focus on developing your maths skills and knowledge as early as possible, preferably starting in high school.

If you manage to build a strong basis for this profession, you can then focus on obtaining further academic education, which is mandatory for working in this role. 

Must-Have Mechanical Engineering Education

The vast majority of mechanical engineering jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in the field. Some entry-level mechanical engineering jobs might be available with an associate degree, but it will depend on your location and the employer. 

Choose a university that is accredited internationally or locally, in the region where you wish to develop your career. A common reference in terms of accreditation is ABET, or the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. That will help you get the kind of knowledge that will prepare you for the job market, as employers prefer to hire mechanical engineers with relevant industry credentials. 

Beyond your essential academic education, look for internships and jobs that will give you that initial, hands-on work experience. During your undergrad studies, you can look for jobs where you can shadow a professional and see how the work is done in that particular setting.

Is a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering Worth It?

Absolutely! In fact, most employers today value higher levels of academic education as it indicates your desire to keep learning - a trait of vital importance for succeeding as a mechanical engineer.

In addition to giving you more employment opportunities, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering is brilliant for a position in research and development. Plus, you can specialise in specific fields within mechanical engineering the more you continue educating yourself. It’s also a stepping stone for doctoral studies.

With the right education and initial experience taken care of, make sure you invest in the right industry certifications, too.

Mechanical Engineering Certifications

Each university that offers mechanical engineering studies also has a selection of mechanical engineering certificate programs that can help you expand your skills. The best way for you to move forward is to look for modules and training that are directly linked to your current studies or to the degree you already have.

On the other hand, you can obtain a certificate in mechanical engineering from an organisation that is in charge of qualifying and certifying mechanical engineers in various sectors. One such globally recognised institution is ASME.

Source: https://www.asme.org/learning-development/about-asme-learning-development 

A screenshot of the Learning and Development page from the ASME website.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers - ASME

Your academic education is, in a way, merely the beginning of your professional development. With your degree, you can now pursue specific programs and courses from ASME and other globally acclaimed organisations for mechanical engineers.

For the time being, ASME offers virtual classroom courses due to the pandemic. In regular circumstances, you can combine in-person and virtual learning, as well as self-paced study materials and guided studies.

You can explore their courses and choose the ones that complement your studies and help make you a more appealing candidate in certain industries. For instance, ASME offers general courses such as Project Management for Engineers that can be useful in any environment. They also have highly specialised courses such as Fracture Mechanics.

The diversity of learning materials and programs and availability of top engineering experts make ASME one of the finest choices for improving your mechanical engineering credentials.

Various Mechanical Engineering Jobs to Consider

This is a vast field with so many options that we can hardly name them all here, but let’s cover some of the most in-demand jobs for mechanical engineers across different industries. 

Mechanical Engineering for Robotics and Automation

Robotics are used in every industry from agriculture, manufacturing, to medicine. That said, even entry-level mechanical engineering jobs that focus on robotics and automation can be extremely rewarding and lucrative. 

Mechanical Engineers in the Automotive Industry

Modern drivers are constantly looking for more refined, sustainable vehicles that are safe and come with numerous features that simplify the driving experience. Mechanical engineers play a key role in making that happen, creating all kinds of job opportunities in this sector.

Mechanical Engineers in Aerospace

Organisations such as NASA heavily rely on mechanical engineers for all of their missions. The same applies to any other institution focusing on space exploration, or even military, commercial, or industrial companies that design and develop flight vehicles. 

Some of the best jobs for mechanical engineers can be found precisely in aerospace, although they do often require a doctoral degree in engineering.

How Much Do Mechanical Engineers Make?

No matter the niche, an entry-level mechanical engineer salary is lower than what you can expect to gain with more experience and more credentials in your field. For a discipline that advances at such a startling rate, it’s crucial to keep mastering new technologies and learn about the latest engineering methods and tools. 

Over time, you can expect your mechanical engineer salary to grow and match your expertise. It also varies from one field to another, depending on the level of risk you assume with your position, as well as the amount of experience and education the job requires. 

Average Mechanical Engineer Salary in the US

In the US, the typical mechanical engineer average salary is around $72,943, or $28.36 per hour. 

Average Mechanical Engineer Salary in the UK

The median salary for a UK-based mechanical engineer can be approximately £32,224 per year, with the average hourly rate of £13.37.

Average Mechanical Engineer Salary in Canada

A standard mechanical engineering salary in Canada is about C$67,645, while the C$28.47 hourly rate.

Average Mechanical Engineer Salary in AU

Mechanical engineering jobs in Australia pay about AU$73,572 annually, or AU$31.71 per hour.

Common Mechanical Engineering Interview Questions

If you are getting ready for your very first interview, or you haven’t applied for a new job in mechanical engineering in a long time, there are certain questions to be on the lookout for. Beyond your academic and industry credentials, employers like to get to know your problem-solving processes and see how creative you can get in hypothetical situations. Here are a few examples:

Tell me about a project you worked on that failed. 

The best way to approach this subject is to avoid finger pointing and assigning blame. Make sure to use the opportunity to talk about what you have learned from the experience and how you can leverage that knowledge on future projects, and how that makes you a better engineer.

What is your process for spotting flaws?

In addition to standard industry steps and processes, you can mention some of your personal workflows that have shown great success in practice.

Tell me about a problem you have solved successfully.

A clear example of your previous work is the best way to pinpoint your strengths and to showcase your expertise. Think about a project you’re most proud of and practice talking about it concisely and with a focus on your role in its success.

Write a Strong Mechanical Engineer Resume

Another step in preparing for a new job is fine-tuning your mechanical engineering resume. The hiring protocols have changed over the past several years to emphasise a more customised approach to each job. So, a cookie-cutter CV template won’t do the trick.

Some of the finest mechanical engineering resume examples are, in fact, adapted to each job posting. BuildStream experts can help you with refining your resume to help you apply for the best jobs in your industry.

Ready to Land Your Dream Job in Mechanical Engineering?

As a mechanical engineer, you should be where the best industry employers are - on BuildStream. All you need is a free profile on BuildStream which takes only a few moments to set up, and you can start applying for the best available jobs in mechanical engineering.

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