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A guide to becoming a Mechanical Engineer

Published: Sunday 27th December 2020

Mechanical engineering is an incredibly diverse discipline, spanning from design and installation to maintenance of manufactured parts. A job as a mechanical engineer should appeal to anyone fascinated by the working of machines. So, if that sounds like you then read on to find out what you need in order to pursue a career in the UK

What does a Mechanical Engineer do?

Mechanical engineer jobs play an important role in the automotive, aerospace, biotechnology, computer, automation, and manufacturing industries. Professionals in this field develop, build, and test mechanical devices, engines and machines.

 Female Mechanical Engineer Designs 3D Engine on Her Personal Computer. mechanical engineering concept.

Job responsibilities often vary, depending on the size and type of employer. However, some typical duties of this role often include:

  • assessing project requirements
  • measuring the performance of devices and engines
  • agreeing budgets and timescales with clients and managers
  • using computer-aided design and modelling software
  • doing relevant research
  • producing and implementing designs and testing them
  • presenting designs to managers and clients
  • writing reports and providing technical advice
  • analysing and interpreting relevant data

What qualification do you need to be a Mechanical Engineer

To get into this profession you’ll usually be required to have a mechanical engineering degree or one in relevant subjects. These could include an undergraduate degree in aeronautical engineering, computer-aided engineering, engineering science, manufacturing engineering or nuclear engineering.

Entry requirements to secure a place in one of the above subjects often consist of five GCSEs (grades A-C) as well as two or three A levels, including maths and physics.

It’s possible to enter this career as a trainee without studying mechanical engineering as an undergraduate. In this case, you will have to take an HND or foundation degree. However, to work up to the role you would need to build up the necessary skills and knowledge, and take higher qualifications.

Engineer/ Technician Working on a Personal Computer with Two Displays

Moreover, becoming a member of a professional body will help you keep up to date with developments in the industry. It will also enable you to develop your own professional network. Such professional bodies include the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Skills required

Professionals in these jobs usually have distinct personalities. They often have an investigative nature and are naturally inquisitive. They are analytical, methodical, and logical. Some of them are also persistent, practical, and thrifty. Other qualities that people who want to follow this career should have, include good communication, financial planning and budgeting as well as IT knowledge. Moreover, problem-solving and teamwork skills are also crucial. 

Salaries and career development

A career in mechanical engineering can prove challenging but very rewarding. Mechanical engineering salaries for entry-level jobs in the UK often range from £20,000 to £28,000. With work experience, this can rise from £25,000 up to £35,000. For mid-level jobs or principal engineers, salaries range from £35,000 to £50,000. 

For senior-level jobs, such as chief engineers, salaries vary from £45,000 to £70,000. Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career should keep in mind that salaries vary from company to company and some sectors may attract higher salaries.

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