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Mechanical engineer

Mechanical engineers develop and design the components and machinery used in manufacturing, construction, water, power, health and transport.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £22,000 to £55,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll usually need a foundation degree, an HNC or HND or a degree in an engineering subject like:

  • mechanical engineering
  • electromechanical engineering
  • mechatronics
  • engineering (mechanical/manufacturing)

Some courses include a year in industry. Alternatively, you could organise your own work placement within a company.

After completing your training, you could then go onto higher-level courses like an HND or degree, or progress to a higher apprenticeship, like advanced manufacturing engineering.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, SEMTA and Tomorrow's Engineers has more information.

You can get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • excellent communication and presentation skills
  • excellent technical knowledge
  • the ability to manage projects
  • a high level of IT ability
  • commercial and budgeting skills

3. What you'll do

You could work in a variety of industries and on different projects. This could range from the installation of off-shore wind turbines through to designing and testing improvements to prosthetic implants.

Your day-to-day duties will vary according to your role, but could include:

  • turning research ideas into technical plans, using computer aided design/modelling (CAD/CAM)
  • carrying out surveys of mechanical systems and equipment
  • researching and assessing new products and innovations
  • presenting design plans and data to managers and clients
  • producing other technical documents
  • supporting the contract team when bidding for new work
  • overseeing maintenance programmes and quality control
  • managing and leading a project team of technicians, designers and other engineering professionals

4. Salary

Starter: £22,000 to £26,000

Experienced: £28,000 to £40,000

Highly Experienced: £40,000 to £55,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week. You may have to work longer hours depending on projects and deadlines. You may be on a shift system, which could include evenings and weekends.

Your working environment could vary from an office to factory production areas and outdoor sites.

6. Career path and progression

You could work for local and central government, the armed services, manufacturers in all industries, research and development facilities and public utilities.

With incorporated or chartered engineer status you could move into project management roles, specialise in a particular field, work in research or become an engineering consultant.

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Last updated: 13 April 2017