what is a mechanical engineer?

As a mechanical engineer, you help keep the machine manufacturing industry running through your role in developing machinery. For instance, you design and build pieces of machinery that improve convenience for production line workers. You also maintain various machines, from trains to production machines. As a mechanical engineer, you are involved in the initial design plans, sourcing resources and materials and testing their functionality. Mechanical engineers specify a mechanical system's functionality and its aesthetic appeal.

Mechanical engineers usually work in mechatronics, manufacturing, industrial and civil engineering. To design and manufacture mechanical systems, you need a deep understanding of dynamics, mechanics, thermodynamics and structural analysis. It is also essential to be proficient in using computers for computer-aided manufacturing and design. As a mechanical engineer, you contribute to the efficiency of various industries by developing different types of machinery. 

Mechanical engineering is a fulfilling career due to the sense of accomplishment when you turn ideas into reality. A mechanical engineer requires innovative skills and complex problem-solving abilities. You should be excited about working on cutting-edge technology and improving the efficiency of machines.

mechanical engineer jobs

average mechanical engineer salary

The median salary of a mechanical engineer is $90,000 per year. The salary package varies depending on the industry and experience. Entry-level mechanical engineers take home $70,000 annually. Experienced mechanical engineers earn over $130,000 per year. The remuneration package sometimes includes a range of benefits, depending on the employer. Some companies have medical or life insurance schemes, while others provide car or house allowances.

how to increase the salary of a mechanical engineer

As a mechanical engineer, your salary depends on your area of specialisation, educational qualifications and the company size. Mechanical engineers have multiple specialisation opportunities which increase their remuneration prospects. For instance, working as an aerospace mechanical or industrial mechanical engineer is likely to improve your salary prospects compared to working in a more generalised field with less specialisation.

Some employers can also afford to pay more due to the available resources or complexity of the position. For instance, if you work in biotechnology or healthcare as a mechanical engineer, you are likely to earn more due to the complexity of the role. Large companies are also willing to pay higher remuneration due to their more significant resources. Smaller startups may not be able to pay higher salaries.

female operating a machine in a production setting
female operating a machine in a production setting

types of mechanical engineers

Some of the types of mechanical engineers include:

  • robotics engineers: as a mechanical engineer specialising in robotics, you create robots and robotic systems that can perform human duties. Creating robots usually helps in manufacturing hazardous compounds. Your job is to design the plans to build and maintain the robots.
  • aerospace engineers: as a mechanical engineer working in the aerospace field, you create space vehicles or devices that help scientists go to space. You also design and develop products that improve survival in space for prolonged periods. Sometimes, your role also involves the creation of satellites and rovers.
  • safety engineers: as a safety engineer, you rely on scientific principles to improve the safety of workers in industrial settings. For instance, you examine production methods and maintain machinery to ensure it operates safely.
  • manufacturing systems engineers: your role is to design precise and high-performance systems or equipment for raw material processing. You design machines that minimise wastage of materials, energy or resources.

working as a mechanical engineer

Working as a mechanical engineer requires analytical skills and attention to detail since you create complex designs for industrial processes. Here is a breakdown of mechanical engineers' duties, responsibilities and work environments.


education and skills

Becoming a mechanical engineer requires the following qualifications:

  • education: to become a mechanical engineer, you should pursue a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. The course explores mechanical engineering disciplines, from maintaining machines to engines and designing various equipment.
  • gaining industrial experience: most employers look for candidates with work experience. Looking for internships and work placement programmes to improve your employability is important. Engineers can work towards holding a chartered status by acquiring a Chartered Membership of Engineering New Zealand or Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) registration. 

mechanical engineer skills and competencies

Some of the skills of a mechanical engineer include:

  • creativity: as a mechanical engineer, your primary role is to design mechanical systems and tools. Due to changing technologies, you require creativity to keep up with the competitive market. Creativity helps you develop exciting ideas to solve issues and design new technologies.
  • problem-solving skills: as a mechanical engineer, you require problem-solving skills to deal with issues that come up with the machines or equipment. Problem-solving skills are valuable in making the necessary calculations for developing prototypes and validating product experiences. Problem-solving skills also help you identify design improvements for current machines.
  • collaboration: as a mechanical engineer, you work alongside the entire production team, and collaboration skills help you relate well with others. Collaboration skills allow you to engage with constructive criticism and incorporate other people's opinions. These skills help you become comfortable in a team setting and work well with others to assist with project delivery.
  • project management skills: as a mechanical engineer, you solve problems related to mechanical systems and develop new product designs. Project management skills help you plan, schedule and organise various project factors.

FAQs about working as a mechanical engineer

Here are the most asked questions about working as a mechanical engineer:

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