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Career Advice

How to Become a Mechanical Engineer

mechanical engineerSo what exactly is a Mechanical Engineer ?  Well, in a nutshell a Mechanical Engineer is concerned with finding solutions in the development of products from the tiniest of components to enormous pieces of heavy machinery. It is widely considered to be the most diverse area of engineering owing to the huge reliance of industry on a vast range of mechanical processes.  A Mechanical Engineer has extensive scope for employment in a great number of industries including aerospace, vehicle mechanics, energy production, telecommunications…the list really could go on and on!

As you can imagine, the day-to-day work duties of a mechanical engineer can be incredibly varied, but we have narrowed down a few to give you an idea of the kind of thing you would be likely to encounter:

  • Working on a project from the planning stage right through to manufacture

  • Research and development, design and production

  • Working closely with colleagues to create project specifications

  • Improving the safety and efficiency of equipment through design and implementation of modifications

  • The creation of theoretical designs and subsequent testing and evaluation of their viability

  • Liaising closely with customers/clients/colleagues in order to ensure the accurate and timely completion of a project

  • The design, planning and implementation of improved productions processes

  • Having a good awareness of costs, safety, client requirements and deadlines

Skills to become a Mechanical Engineer

A Mechanical Engineer’s job is varied, complex and requires a high level of skill and expertise.  There is of course no magic formula of attributes that will create the perfect candidate, but a few things that might be of use to you are:

  • A logical, methodical and innovative approach to work and challenges

  • An extremely high level of competence in physics and mathematics

  • Proficiency in the use of computers and the ability to adapt to new softwares

  • Ability to manage a large workload, planning and prioritising tasks towards often tight deadlines

  • The creativity to conceive new innovations and bring those ideas into existence

  • The ability to work well both independently and as a member of a team – this will be particularly important when working on large scale projects which require a high degree of collaboration with other engineers and colleagues

  • Awareness of cost, health and safety, environmental issues etc

  • A meticulous attention to detail particularly when it comes to the issues of health and safety and efficiency

Qualifications and University Courses

mechanical engineering2A large number of UK universities offer degree courses in Mechanical Engineering with many specialisations to choose from. It is a career which is at the forefront of modern technology so as you can imagine the areas of study are extremely varied and diverse. Students will have the opportunity to study transportation, manufacturing, combustion, robotics, micro technology, computational engineering, energy conversion and many many more.

Generally speaking, Mechanical Engineering courses are quite heavily subscribed in the UK and as a result universities often require a high standard of pre-university qualifications before considering a prospective student for a place – usually a minimum of 5 good GCSEs including maths and English and 2-3 good GCSEs to include maths and/or physics is required.  It is important to check directly with the University in order to find out their specific entry requirements.

If however you do not have the standard of qualifications which a university requires, another route into the field would be to secure a place as a mechanical engineering technician apprentice with an engineering company.  Once you have completed your apprenticeship it will then be possible for you to be accepted onto a university course.

Income Expectations

As with most careers as you progress and continue to increase your level of skills and experience, your salary will normally adjust accordingly.  A realistic starting salary would be from £19,000 to £22,000; with several years of experience this could rise to between £30,000 and £40,000; engineers with many years experience and a chartered status can expect £40,000.

If you still fancy a career as a Mechanical Engineer good luck, we hope that you have found this quick guide useful!

Otherwise why not take a look in our rather fabulous career directory?


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