How to Become a Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical Engineer

A mechanical engineer creates plans for different types of machines: planes, robots, cranes, and virtually any other type of machinery. A professional in this career directs the initial blueprinting stage for the product, as well as performing tests and troubleshooting further down the line.

A mechanical engineer is someone who plans, designs, implements and improves mechanical systems; which are machines and tools that are used for a variety of different reasons. Due to the amount of different machines there are in the world, the spectrum of a mechanical engineer’s career can be very diverse.

Normally, a mechanical engineer will specialise in a certain area, which they will niche into while training. It takes five to ten years to fully train in one area, so most mechanical engineers remain in the specialism for their whole career. Mechanical engineers may first focus on types of machines, for example: static, dynamic, 3D, or fluid, and then use this interest to develop a niche into a particular industry.

Some of these specialisms include the energy sector, aerospace engineering and robotic engineering. They may also niche in a certain part of the process; for example, designing or testing, however, this kind of specialism is more fluid and many mechanical engineers are involved in the entire lifecycle of a project.

Whatever their niche, a mechanical engineer’s duties are likely to include:

  • Working out the best plans for different machines through detailed research, taking into account internal and external factors.
  • Using these plans to create blueprints of certain mechanical systems.
  • Creating simulations of machines and using them to test their effectiveness.
  • Overseeing the manufacturing of the project and checking it adheres to the blueprint and simulations.
  • Troubleshooting the project and making sure that everything is working efficiently.
  • Confirming that the machine meets all legalities and safety requirements.

Nearly everybody wanting a career in medical engineering will need a degree in the subject. Mechanical engineering degrees involve elements of maths, physics, programming and computing and give a fantastic grounding into this career. Other engineering undergraduates could take a masters qualification in mechanical engineering before applying to mechanical engineering roles. It is advisable for students with bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering to also get a masters, as recruiters in this field look for real industry professionals.

Vocational experience is also really important when looking for a career in mechanical engineering. Many courses include opportunities for placements, which is a great way to get some work experience. Summer internships and placements are common in this field and are great resume additions. Graduate jobs, which involve on-job training, are fairly easy to arrange.

That being said, those who are wondering how to become a mechanical engineer should develop a keen interest in the subject throughout their education and career, joining clubs and societies and networking within the industry.

They should be technically-minded, able to work in a team, have problem-solving skills and be able to think of creative solutions. They will often be developing a product for a particular client, and may need to explain their creations to them in non-technical terms, so being a good communicator is essential. They may also need to collaborate with non-technical people in their teams, so great team working skills are a must.

Mechanical engineers will normally be working in offices – but they will occasionally do site visits to test their machines. Mechanical engineer’s salaries vary depending on how much experience they have – they can upgrade to be a senior mechanical engineer and a project manager – and what specialism they are in.

What degree is most commonly held by a Mechanical Engineer?

  • BA & MA Of Mechanical Engineering
  • BA & MA Of Engineering
  • BA & MA Of Building Services Engineering
  • BA & MA Of Mechanical
  • BA & MA Of Project Management
  • MBA
  • BA & MA Of Engineering/Industrial Management
  • BA & MA Of Engineering Science
  • BA & MA Of Manufacturing Engineering
  • BA & MA Of Civil Engineering

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: Medium
Skilled mechanical engineers are in demand all over the globe, and there are a range of different projects in different countries. Some specialists may find it very easy to move to a different country and immediately find work. However, it depends what the mechanical engineer’s niche is and where there is a demand for that work. Placements in other countries may be temporary or permanent.

What is the Salary of a Mechanical Engineer?

Experience Average salary | year
Mechanical Engineer 1-3 Years $75,000 £37,500 $57,692
Senior Mechanical Engineer 4-9 Years $110,000 £52,500 $81,000
Mechanical Engineering Director 10+ Years $135,000 £57,500 $85,186

What skills are needed to become a Mechanical Engineer?

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Engineering
  • SolidWorks
  • Microsoft Office
  • AutoCAD
  • Project Management
  • Project Engineering
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Matlab
  • Manufacturing
  • CAD
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Microsoft Word
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Commissioning
  • Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
  • Project Planning
  • Engineering Design
  • Management
  • Research
  • Customer Service
  • Product Development
  • Construction

Mechanical Engineering Courses

Candidates who are wondering how to become a mechanical engineer should develop their career and find their niche by taking some relevant courses. At FutureLearn, we have everything to get you started on this career path from learning how planes fly and much more.
  • Through Engineers' Eyes - Introducing the Vision: Engineering Mechanics by Experiment, Analysis and Design

    Learn the basic techniques of engineering mechanics and use them to interpret experiments and make designs that will work

  • Through Engineers' Eyes - Expanding the Vision: Engineering Mechanics by Experiment, Analysis and Design

    Extend the basic techniques of engineering mechanics to a range of situations interpret experiments and apply them to design

  • ABC of Flight Mechanics: How Do Planes Fly?

    Discover how airplanes work and explore simple flight mechanics from take off and landing to the physics of flight

Need even more evidence about why you should learn on FutureLearn?

We partner with over 170 world-class universities, institutions and industry leaders to create world-class courses to help you with your career. Whether you’re just starting out, wanting to deepen your knowledge or change direction, FutureLearn and our partners can help. These are just a few of our world-leading partners.