How to Become a Mechanical Engineer

How to become a mechanical engineer header

What Does a Mechanical Engineer Do?

Mechanical Engineers research, test, design, develop thermal devices including engines and machines. Common devices are from medical, energy and automated manufacturing sectors.

Careers in mechanical engineering are spread across many different industries as there are different branches that relate to a Mechanical Engineer's job role. Some specific roles that Mechanical Engineers do are:

  1. Distribution and generation of energy
  2. Processing of materials
  3. Control and automation of manufacturing systems
  4. Design and development of machines
  5. Solutions to environmental problems

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Skills Needed to Become a Mechanical Engineer

  1. Problem solving – Problem solving is one of main skills a Mechanical Engineer should have. It is good to know that you’ll be set tasks which you have never completed before. Problem solving skills will help you complete those tasks, and ‘overcome’ the difficulty of something.
  2. Understanding of a high level of IT and creativity – IT knowledge and creativity are the basic foundation of mechanical engineering. Starting a project will require illustrations and models to be created and the only way to do these is with a computer.
  3. Technical skills – It’s important that you have technical skills when becoming a Mechanical Engineer. Having an understanding of mechanical equipment and tools, certain software you’ll use, programming language and modern technology.
  4. Maths & Science – A mathematical and scientific brain is another foundation of mechanical engineering. Having a passion for maths and science and being able to solve calculations and understand elements is a must when becoming a Mechanical Engineer.
  5. Verbal and written communication – It is also important to be able to communicate with your clients, suppliers and team whether it may be verbally or writing. If you are modelling something, you should be able to explain what you are trying to show with your model, so that your clients, suppliers and team understand too. It goes the same for writing. Also when it comes to presentations, you should be able to create and deliver them in the right manner to the right people.
  6. Budgeting and managing skills – Even as a Mechanical Engineer, you will have to think about how much budget you will put into a project. You have to show that you understand the value of the money and that you are able to manage on the budget you was given.
  7. Quality testing skills – You should be able to test equipment and assure that it is safe, reliable and efficient to use. You have to test several times and spot faults that may exist. This skill helps you to build more efficient machinery and also will allow you to spot your mistakes quicker.
  8. Ability to work under pressure – Dealing with resource or time constraints which are often out of the Engineer’s control is something that a Mechanical Engineer will have to face daily in their career.
  9. Creativity – Creativity is the most desired attribute that an Engineer needs to obtain. It is hard to define creativity as it is different within each person, however, to be a successful Mechanical Engineer, you will need to have creativity and vision to know what your end goal or product is.
  10. Interpersonal skills – Good interpersonal skills are essential to any career, especially engineering. The work of a Mechanical Engineer is not merely technical. Engineers often have to liaise with clients and work in teams meaning strong interpersonal skills are imperative.

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The Responsibilities of a Mechanical Engineer

Responsibilities of a Mechanical Engineer will depend upon their experience, position and industry. However, some key responsibilities of the role include:

  1. Designing 3D or computer models on relevant software – Designing and creating models is one of the main responsibilities you will have as a Mechanical Engineer. You will have to have paperwork created on a specific software showing the machinery you will work on, all the parts you will work on, what parts are needed, dimensions and other planning you may need to start creating the machine or the equipment.
  2. Designing cost effective and reliable equipment – To be able to design and build machinery within your given budget and also make sure that the equipment is effective and reliable and up to the standards of your client and even your industry.
  3. Developing and testing theoretical models – When you have created your models, you will have to explain the theory behind and the function of your equipment before building it. You will have to make sure that your theory works on smaller and bigger parts and that whole machinery will work overall.
  4. Assessing the performance of equipment and ensuring safety, reliability and efficiency – Testing and assessing will be an important responsibility of your role. Being able to find mistakes before the equipment is built can help reduce cost and can make the machinery more effective. It is also important to see if the machinery is safe to use once it’s finished. You will also have to ensure that the machinery you built is reliable and can be used for a long time for its purpose.
  5. Researching – Researching theories and relevant data will also be compulsory within your role. Before starting any projects, you will most likely start researching.
  6. Writing reports and assessments – Reports and assessments will be the key thing you will do once a project is finished. You will have to sum up everything you have done and assess yourself. Report writing will also be important because you will have to be able to sum up your machinery, what you have built, how it functions and the elements of it.
  7. Providing technical advice – You will have to be able to answer and give any technical advice that you may be asked. 
  8. Liaising with clients and suppliers – It’s important that you have your communication skills together for this one. You have to understand what your client wants and to be able to deliver them the requirements they have. However, to know what your client wants you will have to involve your supplier and understand what they will be able to supply for you to meet your clients needs.

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What Qualifications Are Required to Become a Mechanical Engineer?

Taking the plunge to become a Mechanical Engineer can seem daunting and leave you with many thoughts and questions such as “what subjects are needed for mechanical engineering in high school?” and “can I become a mechanical engineer without a degree?”. We have collected this information for you below which should help you on your mechanical engineering journey.

First things first, you will need to start developing your mathematical, physics, chemistry and IT knowledge. These skills can be learnt through school, college or university, or through online courses.

A vast majority of mechanical engineering roles require you to hold a relevant degree to even be considered for a job interview. Here’s a list of relevant degrees to get you started:

  1. Mechanical Engineering MCs
  2. Mechanical Engineering BEng
  3. Vehicle Engineering
  4. Automotive Engineering
  5. Electro-mechanical Engineering


How to become a mechanical engineer without a degree

If you did not study a degree relevant to mechanical engineering there are many courses you can take to achieve the appropriate qualifications.

It’s worth noting that these courses might be the same price as a university fee or could be even more expensive.


Mechanical Engineering apprenticeships

Apprenticeships in mechanical engineering are widely available across the UK. Most low level apprenticeships do not require the student to have any college qualifications.

Apprenticeships also accommodate students who have not achieved maths and English GCSEs and offer courses alongside the apprenticeship to help them obtain these.

The level of apprenticeship that you study will determine the career prospects that you can then move on to. 


Mechanical Engineering Salary


Starter / Graduate Salary Highly experienced / Senior role
£22,000 - £26,000 per year Up to £55,000 per year


You can easily apply for a mechanical engineering jobs with Fish4jobs and filter your selection by location, sectors, salary band, hours, and contract type.

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