What Does A Mechanical Engineer Do?

Mechanical Engineers oversee the development of various mechanical devices in different industries. Most of the responsibilities will revolve around crafting, improving, or designing technologies by utilizing extensive expertise in the subject; they identify and detect errors, provide in-depth analysis, and resolve issues. They are often in designated offices, but they can also work on-site and travel if necessary. Furthermore, Mechanical Engineers usually function in a group or team setting, often supervised by personnel in higher positions.

Here are examples of responsibilities from real mechanical engineer resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Manage machine shop and Sr. Machinist/Toolmaker.
  • Lead the implementation of Syteline MRP software.
  • Manage component work orders and failure test scheduling to parts as per DFMEA with design team.
  • Use of PLM software tools such as WindChill to manage data, revisions, iterations and approvals.
  • Lead a research and development team developing cutting edge mechanical systems and equipment fund by DOD and NASA SBIR projects.
  • Create a LabView script to greatly automate the thermal testing process, which reduce test cycle times and improve data recording.
  • Project include circuit design, characterization and VERILOG models.
  • Utilize 3-D cad software tool to help resolve product design issues.
  • Attain SolidWorks CSWP certification and maintaining proficiency within CREO & AutoCad
  • Perform FEA analysis of components and sub-assemblies before fabrication using SolidWorks ANSYS.
Mechanical Engineer Traits
Creativity involves thinking about a task or problem in an entirely new or different light.
Listening is an important part of the communication process as it allows you to understand information.
Math skills include being able to perform basic addition and subtraction, as well as solving for the unknown and visualizing data that will be helpful in the workplace.

Mechanical Engineer Overview

Between the years 2018 and 2028, mechanical engineer jobs are expected to undergo a growth rate described as "as fast as average" at 4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So if the thought "should I become a mechanical engineer?" Has crossed your mind, maybe you should take the growth rate into account. In addition, the number of mechanical engineer opportunities that are projected to become available by 2028 is 12,800.

A mechanical engineer annual salary averages $72,056, which breaks down to $34.64 an hour. However, mechanical engineers can earn anywhere from upwards of $55,000 to $93,000 a year. This means that the top-earning mechanical engineers make $38,000 more than the lowest-earning ones.

It's hard work to become a mechanical engineer, but even the most dedicated employees consider switching careers from time to time. Whether you're interested in a more challenging position or just looking for a fresh start, we've compiled extensive information on becoming a product design engineer, development engineer, product engineer, and process engineer.

Mechanical Engineer Jobs You Might Like

Mechanical Engineer Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 11% of Mechanical Engineers are proficient in Engineering Design, CAD, and Solidworks. They’re also known for soft skills such as Creativity, Listening skills, and Math skills.

We break down the percentage of Mechanical Engineers that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Engineering Design, 11%

    Created Pneumatic and mechanical product-development from conceptualizing new product ideas through sketching, creating models, developing engineering designs and testing.

  • CAD, 9%

    Created methodology to predict cable and harness requirements by importing electrical engineering data into mechanical CAD system.

  • Solidworks, 9%

    Utilized skills in three-dimensional computer-aided design software (SolidWorks) to facilitate completion of computer models and drawing packages for manufacture.

  • Electrical Systems, 6%

    Organized both electrical and mechanical drawings, verified proper labeling of electrical connections, and revised marked-up prints.

  • Facility, 6%

    Assisted in relocation of company to new facility, including coordinating with architecture and engineering firms to obtain permits for construction.

  • Hvac, 5%

    Provided HVAC and plumbing design engineering and field construction support for industrial manufacturing facilities additions and renovations both in-house and on-site.

Most mechanical engineers list "engineering design," "cad," and "solidworks" as skills on their resumes. We go into more details on the most important mechanical engineer responsibilities here:

  • The most important skills for a mechanical engineer to have in this position are creativity. In this excerpt that we gathered from a mechanical engineer resume, you'll understand why: "mechanical engineers design and build complex pieces of equipment and machinery" According to resumes we found, creativity can be used by a mechanical engineer in order to "sole co-op trusted with using pdm program for organizing and storing designs, inventories, purchases, etc. "
  • Another commonly found skill for being able to perform mechanical engineer duties is the following: listening skills. According to a mechanical engineer resume, "mechanical engineers often work on projects with others, such as architects and computer scientists." Check out this example of how mechanical engineers use listening skills: "drafted in-depth technical reports and communicated clearly and concisely to diverse audiences. "
  • Mechanical engineers are also known for math skills, which can be critical when it comes to performing their duties. An example of why this skill is important is shown by this snippet that we found in a mechanical engineer resume: "mechanical engineers use the principles of calculus, statistics, and other advanced subjects in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work." We also found this resume example that details how this skill is put to the test: "performed and published extensive structural analysis on equipment design using textbook methods, pro/engineer, and mathcad. "
  • In order for certain mechanical engineer responsibilities to be completed, the job requires the skill "mechanical skills." According to a mechanical engineer resume, "mechanical skills allow engineers to apply basic engineering concepts and mechanical processes to the design of new devices and systems." As an example, this snippet was taken directly from a resume about how this skill applies: "acted as a mechanical engineering co-op, designing fixtures for parts that will be cmm measured. "
  • Another common skill for a mechanical engineer to be able to utilize is "problem-solving skills." Mechanical engineers need good problem-solving skills to take scientific principles and discoveries and use them to design and build useful products. A mechanical engineer demonstrated the need for this skill by putting this on their resume: "provide support to new product development programs to ensure schedules are met and product issues are identified and resolved. "
  • See the full list of mechanical engineer skills.

    We've found that 77.3% of mechanical engineers have earned a bachelor's degree. Furthermore, 11.5% earned their master's degrees before becoming a mechanical engineer. While it's true that most mechanical engineers have a college degree, it's generally possible to become one with only a high school degree. In fact, one out of every nine mechanical engineers did not spend the extra money to attend college.

    Those mechanical engineers who do attend college, typically earn either a mechanical engineering degree or a mechanical engineering technology degree. Less commonly earned degrees for mechanical engineers include a engineering degree or a drafting and design degree.

    When you're ready to become a mechanical engineer, you might wonder which companies hire mechanical engineers. According to our research through mechanical engineer resumes, mechanical engineers are mostly hired by Aerotek, Black & Veatch, and Jacobs Engineering Group. Now is a good time to apply as Aerotek has 47 mechanical engineers job openings, and there are 44 at Black & Veatch and 19 at Jacobs Engineering Group.

    But if you're interested in companies where you might earn a high salary, mechanical engineers tend to earn the biggest salaries at Exxon Mobil, Stellar, and Chevron. Take Exxon Mobil for example. The median mechanical engineer salary is $114,884. At Stellar, mechanical engineers earn an average of $113,298, while the average at Chevron is $112,767. You should take into consideration how difficult it might be to secure a job with one of these companies.

    View more details on mechanical engineer salaries across the United States.

    We also looked into companies who hire mechanical engineers from the top 100 educational institutions in the U.S. The top three companies that hire the most from these institutions include Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Electric.

    In general, mechanical engineers fulfill roles in the manufacturing and technology industries. While employment numbers are high in those industries, the mechanical engineer annual salary is the highest in the technology industry with $84,563 as the average salary. Meanwhile, the energy and automotive industries pay $84,108 and $82,358 respectively. This means that mechanical engineers who are employed in the technology industry make 43.6% more than mechanical engineers who work in the government Industry.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious mechanical engineers are:

      What Product Design Engineers Do

      A Product Design Engineer designs new products that customers will want to purchase. They are responsible for designing, modeling, and testing prototypes for products.

      We looked at the average mechanical engineer annual salary and compared it with the average of a product design engineer. Generally speaking, product design engineers receive $483 lower pay than mechanical engineers per year.

      While their salaries may differ, one common ground between mechanical engineers and product design engineers are a few of the skills required in each craft. In both careers, employees bring forth skills like engineering design, cad, and hvac.

      There are some key differences in responsibilities as well. For example, a mechanical engineer responsibilities require skills like "solidworks," "electrical systems," "facility," and "mechanical equipment." Meanwhile a typical product design engineer has skills in areas such as "design concepts," "nx," "plastic parts," and "solid models." This difference in skills reveals how truly different these two careers really are.

      Product design engineers tend to make the most money in the technology industry by averaging a salary of $104,466. In contrast, mechanical engineers make the biggest average salary of $84,563 in the technology industry.

      Product design engineers tend to reach similar levels of education than mechanical engineers. In fact, product design engineers are 3.9% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.2% less likely to have a Doctoral Degree.

      What Are The Duties Of a Development Engineer?

      A Development Engineer is responsible for the development and validation of products, systems, and components. They are also responsible for quality control of work and continuous improvement of engineer activities.

      The next role we're going to look at is the development engineer profession. Typically, this position earns a higher pay. In fact, they earn a $9,770 higher salary than mechanical engineers per year.

      While the salary may be different for these job positions, there is one similarity and that's a few of the skills needed to perform certain duties. We used info from lots of resumes to find that both mechanical engineers and development engineers are known to have skills such as "cad," "solidworks," and "project management. "

      But both careers also use different skills, according to real mechanical engineer resumes. While mechanical engineer responsibilities can utilize skills like "engineering design," "electrical systems," "facility," and "hvac," some development engineers use skills like "python," "c #," "java," and "software development."

      On average, development engineers earn a higher salary than mechanical engineers. There are industries that support higher salaries in each profession respectively. Interestingly enough, development engineers earn the most pay in the technology industry with an average salary of $102,147. Whereas, mechanical engineers have higher paychecks in the technology industry where they earn an average of $84,563.

      In general, development engineers study at higher levels of education than mechanical engineers. They're 8.7% more likely to obtain a Master's Degree while being 0.2% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      What technology do you think will become more important and prevalent for Mechanical Engineers in the next 3-5 years?

      Marco Schoen Ph.D.

      Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Director of the Measurement and Control Engineering Research Center (MCERC), Idaho State University

      My answer to this question requires me to make an addendum to my response to the first question: "Stay current - but don't overreact:" Every few years, new technology or a new field arises that draws much interest and attracts much attention. For example, MEMS, nanotechnology, and perhaps currently, deep learning are a few to name that qualify as such. As an engineer, we have many interests, little time, and need to stay current. To choose what new field/technology to pursue and what would be beneficial to their career, having a clear career plan and long-term career goal will help prioritize choices. However, as general advice, it is safe for new practicing engineers to stay current with the knowledge that covers the fundamentals and which are omnipotent applicable. To be specific, as automation and autonomous systems become more prevalent, having updated programming skills and expertise in fundamental mathematics will always be helpful.Show more

      What technology do you think will become more important and prevalent for Mechanical Engineers in the next 3-5 years?

      Dr. Richard Onyancha

      Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Department Head, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

      Automation and control, robotics, and to some extent supply chain managementShow more

      How a Product Engineer Compares

      A product engineer specializes in designing and developing commercial materials and services. They are primarily responsible for conducting thorough research and analysis of the latest trends and marketing conditions to come up with new ideas and products for the public. Moreover, they are also responsible for producing reports and presentations, coordinating with the development team of their company. Product engineers also reach out to vendors and suppliers for the raw materials, set regulations and standards for the product, and even conduct a rigorous and regular quality check.

      Let's now take a look at the product engineer profession. On average, these workers make higher salaries than mechanical engineers with a $2,715 difference per year.

      While looking through the resumes of several mechanical engineers and product engineers we discovered that both professions have similar skills. These similarities include skills such as "engineering design," "cad," and "solidworks," but they differ when it comes to other required skills.

      As mentioned, these two careers differ between other skills that are required for performing the work exceedingly well. For example, gathering from mechanical engineers resumes, they are more likely to have skills like "electrical systems," "facility," "creo," and "finite element analysis." But a product engineer might have skills like "c++," "continuous improvement," "data analysis," and "customer service."

      Additionally, product engineers earn a higher salary in the technology industry compared to other industries. In this industry, they receive an average salary of $96,699. Additionally, mechanical engineers earn an average salary of $84,563 in the technology industry.

      Product engineers are known to earn similar educational levels when compared to mechanical engineers. Additionally, they're 5.0% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 0.0% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      Description Of a Process Engineer

      A Process Engineer is responsible for coming up with innovative ways to process particular raw materials into different kinds of products. They can also modify various existing machines or maintain their quality by monitoring its functions and conducting tests and examinations. A Process Engineer must do numerous analyses and research to gather data that would help determine possible improvements or decisions to uphold. Furthermore, A Process Engineer also has the task of procuring and installing new equipment, collecting and interpreting data, assessing risks, and ensuring that tasks are done safely.

      The fourth career we look at typically earns higher pay than mechanical engineers. On average, process engineers earn a difference of $5,053 higher per year.

      While both mechanical engineers and process engineers complete day-to-day tasks using similar skills like engineering design, cad, and solidworks, the two careers also vary in other skills.

      While some skills are shared by these professions, there are some differences to note. "electrical systems," "hvac," "engineering drawings," and "creo" are skills that have shown up on mechanical engineers resumes. Additionally, process engineer uses skills like procedures, continuous improvement, data analysis, and corrective actions on their resumes.

      Process engineers earn a higher salary in the technology industry with an average of $94,006. Whereas, mechanical engineers earn the highest salary in the technology industry.

      Process engineers reach similar levels of education when compared to mechanical engineers. The difference is that they're 2.5% more likely to earn a Master's Degree more, and 2.1% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.