What Does A Mechanical Engineer Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Stan T.Career, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical Engineers perform engineering duties in planning and designing tools, engines, machines, and other mechanically functioning equipment. Oversee installation, operation, maintenance, and repair of equipment such as centralized heat, gas, water, and steam systems.

Salary
$95560
Becoming One
Hard
Education
Bachelor's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Mechanical Engineers perform engineering duties in planning and designing tools, engines, machines, and other mechanically functioning equipment. Oversee installation, operation, maintenance, and repair of equipment such as centralized heat, gas, water, and steam systems.

  • Read and interpret blueprints, technical drawings, schematics, or computer-generated reports.
  • Research, design, evaluate, install, operate, or maintain mechanical products, equipment, systems, or processes to meet requirements.
  • Confer with engineers or other personnel to implement operating procedures, resolve system malfunctions, or provide technical information.
  • Develop, coordinate, or monitor all aspects of production, including the selection of manufacturing methods, fabrication, or operation of product designs.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Mechanical Engineers confer with engineers or other personnel to implement operating procedures, resolve system malfunctions, or provide technical information. They perform personnel functions, such as supervision of production workers, technicians, technologists, or other engineers.

A typical day for a Mechanical Engineer will also include:

  • Design integrated mechanical or alternative systems, such as mechanical cooling systems with natural ventilation systems, to improve energy efficiency.
  • Research, design, evaluate, install, operate, or maintain mechanical products, equipment, systems, or processes to meet requirements.
  • Read and interpret blueprints, technical drawings, schematics, or computer-generated reports.
  • Specify system components or direct modification of products to ensure conformance with engineering design, performance specifications, or environmental regulations.
  • Recommend the use of utility or energy services that minimize carbon footprints.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Mechanical Engineers also direct the installation, operation, maintenance, or repair of renewable energy equipment, such as heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) or water systems. They may also recommend the use of utility or energy services that minimize carbon footprints.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Mechanical Engineers design test control apparatus or equipment or develop procedures for testing products. They might also estimate costs or submit bids for engineering, construction, or extraction projects.

In addition, they recommend design modifications to eliminate machine or system malfunctions.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them provide feedback to design engineers on customer problems or needs.

To some Mechanical Engineers, it is also their responsibility to develop or test models of alternate designs or processing methods to assess feasibility, sustainability, operating condition effects, potential new applications, or necessity of modification.

Freedom to make decisions

How much decision making freedom does this job offer?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
1%

Limited freedom
1%

Some freedom
46%

A lot of freedom
52%

Structured vs unstructured work

To what extent is this job structured for you versus allowing you to determine your own tasks, priorities, and goals?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
0%

Limited freedom
4%

Some freedom
31%

A lot of freedom
64%

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What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Average

Is this job meaningful

Average

69% said they were satisfied with their job and 53% said they found their job meaningful.


Mike Reinalda
3devo

I have two functions. As the support engineer, I start my day answering all emails we receive from our customers. It can take me up to 2 hours, depending on how many emails we receive. Throughout the day, if a customer calls, I’m available to assist them as well. When I’m not doing that, I work as a mechanical engineer in the Research and Development (R&D) Team, working on current projects.

With our current project, most of my time is spent on Solid Works, creating 3D drawings. With this, we can get an overview of the project, figure out which parts we need, and then after, whether we can either make it in-house at our workshop or outsource it.

Once we have all the parts ready, we can then assemble, test, and see if everything fits the way we hoped. If not, we go straight back to the drawing board until we get a product that works, and from there, we send it over to production.

When we start a new project, there are specific steps we take:

  1. Check what’s on the market. Do we have competitors who have something similar to what we want to create?
  2. Look at client feedback. This is especially the case if we want to create a second generation of a machine. We want to take the time to talk with our clients and see what they thought of the first generation; that way, we know what we can start working on and improving.
  3. Create a list through brainstorming on what the machine should do and from there generate specs.
  4. Start building (from hand sketches, digital, and then physically building it).

What are your key responsibilities?

On the service side, I ensure that I can assist the client to the best of my ability and help solve their issues. As part of the R&D team, my main priority is keeping customers safe when using our machines and happy. Customers are paying money for a good quality machine, so I have to make sure that they’re getting that quality when the product arrives.

Quality is something we always keep in mind in all the jobs we do here; this goes from the quality help and service the customers receive to our products.

Pros

Every day is a different day. There are a lot of steps, from hand sketches to even designing the packaging material. Sometimes we have days sitting behind the computer, but then we have our testing days to experiment and make sure the product is working up to par with what we need it to do. It’s a huge positive for me that there are so many things to do within technical engineering; you can get creative with executing tasks and creating solutions.

The team we have in the office helps a lot, from the departments I work closely with to the financial and commercial departments. There’s a great team dynamic present at the office.

Cons

Because we (R&D) design the products, it can be frustrating when production finds that the product isn’t assembling as it should. So while the designing part is fun and exciting, it can also take a long time. While we may design products to work, it doesn’t always mean that they will work once the production team has all the parts in front of them and have to start assembling.

Tip:

Keep trying things. You can spend so many hours behind Solid Works creating drawings, only to find out hours later that it didn’t work. It’s better to experiment as you go along, even if you have to try out unconventional methods or tools. It’s during these experiments that you’ll figure out right away whether or not something will work. Try not to let your ego get the better of you, sometimes solutions will be much simpler than you thought, and it’s not worth having to keep pushing forward something you were working on for the sole reason that you spent a lot of time on it.

Mike Reinalda
3devo


Pros

Suitable for people who like to solve problems mentally.

Suitable for people who want recognition and wants career advancement and a prestigious career.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

Very high salary (top 25% highest paid careers).

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to start and carry out projects.

It is hard to get into this career. A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week).

How much do they make

Average salary

$95560 per year

Average hourly wage

$46 per hour

Entry-level Mechanical Engineers with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $58,410 to $71,880 per year or $28 to $35 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $141,060 $68
Senior (Top 25%) $114,380 $55
Median $90,160 $43
Junior (Bottom 25%) $71,880 $35
No experience (Bottom 10%) $58,410 $28

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Mechanical Engineers based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Other Pipeline Transportation $127170 $61.14
Waste Treatment and Disposal $122400 $58.84
Oil and Gas Extraction $117000 $56.25
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing $115470 $55.51
Insurance Carriers $114160 $54.88
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories $111240 $53.48
Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services $110210 $52.99
Office Administrative Services $110190 $52.98
Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods $108220 $52.03
Scientific Research and Development Services $107930 $51.89

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Mechanical Engineers work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Mechanical Engineers including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services 63150 $99050 $47.62
Machinery Manufacturing 28200 $86630 $41.65
Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing 16220 $104710 $50.34
Scientific Research and Development Services 15710 $107930 $51.89
Federal Executive Branch 13610 $103050 $49.54
Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing 12550 $102200 $49.13
Management of Companies and Enterprises 10950 $100730 $48.43
Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing 9310 $92830 $44.63
Employment Services 8770 $90430 $43.48
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing 7360 $84320 $40.54

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
0%

40 hours
31%

More than 40 hours
69%

Working schedule

83%

17%

0%

Work with group or team

How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?

Not important at all
0%

Fairly important
7%

Important
14%

Very important
32%

Extremely important
47%

Deal with external customers

How important is it to work with customers in this job?

Not important at all
13%

Fairly important
21%

Important
26%

Very important
30%

Extremely important
10%

Manage or lead others

How important is it to coordinate or lead others in completing work activities in this job?

Not important at all
0%

Fairly important
23%

Important
25%

Very important
1%

Extremely important
51%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
16%

Every day
70%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
18%

Every day
78%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
7%

Every day
93%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
27%

Once a year
24%

Once a month
23%

Once a week
26%

Every day
1%

Frequency of conflict situations

How often are there conflict situations in this job?

Never
4%

Once a year
30%

Once a month
33%

Once a week
23%

Every day
10%

Dealing with angry people

How often do you have to deal with angry, unpleasant, or discourteous individuals in this job?

Never
7%

Once a year
33%

Once a month
26%

Once a week
27%

Every day
8%

Dealing with physically aggressive people

How often do you have to deal with physically aggressive people in this job?

Never
68%

Once a year
13%

Once a month
13%

Once a week
0%

Every day
7%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
1%

Slightly competitive
12%

Moderately competitive
37%

Highly competitive
31%

Extremely competitive
20%

Repetition in this job

How important is repeating the same type of task over and over in this job?

Not important at all
16%

Fairly important
16%

Important
6%

Very Important
29%

Extremely Important
34%

Impact of decisions on co-workers or company results

What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the reputation or financial resources of your employer?

No impact
4%

Minor impact
9%

Moderate impact
20%

Important impact
31%

Very important impact
36%

Frequency of decision making

How frequently do you have to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the reputation of the company?

Never
4%

Once a year
12%

Once a month
7%

Once a week
15%

Every day
61%

Responsibility for others’ health and safety

How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?

No responsibility
8%

Limited responsibility
35%

Moderate responsibility
24%

High responsibility
16%

Very high responsibility
17%

Responsibility for outcomes and results

How much responsibility is there for the work outcomes and results of other workers?

No responsibility
14%

Limited responsibility
18%

Moderate responsibility
17%

High responsibility
21%

Very high responsibility
30%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
17%

Once a year or more
3%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
7%

Every day
73%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
18%

Once a year or more
20%

Once a month or more
25%

Once a week or more
29%

Every day
8%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
55%

Once a year or more
25%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
7%

Every day
13%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
62%

Once a year or more
19%

Once a month or more
7%

Once a week or more
7%

Every day
7%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Hard
You will need a considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Careers in this difficulty category usually require a Bachelor’s degree and several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training. Similar careers include Database Administrators, Chemists, Art Directors, and Accountants.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
0%

Post-Secondary Certificate
0%

Some College Courses
5%

Associate’s Degree or similar
7%

Bachelor’s Degree
83%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
5%

Master’s Degree
0%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
0%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant majors

Electromechanical Engineering

A program that prepares individuals to apply scientific and mathematical principles to the problems associated with combining electrical and mechanical components with special emphasis on manufacturing and automated processes. Includes instruction in applied mechanics, instrumentation and monitoring, machine design, automated control techniques, fluid and thermal dynamics, circuit analysis, and solid state electronics.

Mechanical Engineering

A program that prepares individuals to apply mathematical and scientific principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of physical systems used in manufacturing and end-product systems used for specific uses, including machine tools, jigs and other manufacturing equipment; stationary power units and appliances; engines; self-propelled vehicles; housings and containers; hydraulic and electric systems for controlling movement; and the integration of computers and remote control with operating systems.

Engineering Mechanics

A program with a general focus on the application of the mathematical and scientific principles of classical mechanics to the analysis and evaluation of the behavior of structures, forces and materials in engineering problems. Includes instruction in statics, kinetics, dynamics, kinematics, celestial mechanics, stress and failure, and electromagnetism.


Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
4%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
0%

6 months to 1 year
10%

1 to 2 years
7%

2 to 4 years
26%

4 to 6 years
26%

6 to 8 years
18%

8 to 10 years
6%

Over 10 years
3%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
16%

1 month
5%

1 to 3 months
23%

3 to 6 months
14%

6 months to 1 year
13%

1 to 2 years
24%

2 to 4 years
4%

4 to 10 years
1%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Thinker

People with this personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.

The Builder
90%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
95%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
38%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
29%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
24%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
57%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with ideas and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

They also like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
76%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
74%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
81%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
67%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
67%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
76%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


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