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Career profile Mechanical Engineer

Also known as Application Engineer, Design Engineer, Design Maintenance Engineer, Equipment Engineer, Mechanical Design Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Process Engineer, Product Engineer, Project Engineer, Test Engineer

Mechanical Engineer

Also known as Application Engineer, Design Engineer, Design Maintenance Engineer

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$58,410 - $141,060 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Mathematics
Knowledge Areas
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Design
Core tasks
  • 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.
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What does a Mechanical Engineer do?

Mechanical Engineers perform engineering duties in planning and designing tools, engines, machines, and other mechanically functioning equipment.

In addition, Mechanical Engineers oversee installation, operation, maintenance, and repair of equipment such as centralized heat, gas, water, and steam systems.

What kind of tasks does a Mechanical Engineer perform regularly?

Mechanical Engineers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • 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 selection of manufacturing methods, fabrication, or operation of product designs.
  • Investigate equipment failures or difficulties to diagnose faulty operation and recommend remedial actions.
  • Develop or test models of alternate designs or processing methods to assess feasibility, sustainability, operating condition effects, potential new applications, or necessity of modification.
  • Specify system components or direct modification of products to ensure conformance with engineering design, performance specifications, or environmental regulations.
  • Assist drafters in developing the structural design of products, using drafting tools or computer-assisted drafting equipment or software.
  • Recommend design modifications to eliminate machine or system malfunctions.
  • Oversee installation, operation, maintenance, or repair to ensure that machines or equipment are installed and functioning according to specifications.
  • Conduct research that tests or analyzes the feasibility, design, operation, or performance of equipment, components, or systems.
  • Design test control apparatus or equipment or develop procedures for testing products.
  • Provide feedback to design engineers on customer problems or needs.
  • Research and analyze customer design proposals, specifications, manuals, or other data to evaluate the feasibility, cost, or maintenance requirements of designs or applications.
  • Estimate costs or submit bids for engineering, construction, or extraction projects.

The above responsibilities are specific to Mechanical Engineers. More generally, Mechanical Engineers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

What is a Mechanical Engineer salary?

The median salary for a Mechanical Engineer is $90,160, and the average salary is $95,560. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Mechanical Engineer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Mechanical Engineers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Mechanical Engineers earn less than $58,410 per year, 25% earn less than $71,880, 75% earn less than $114,380, and 90% earn less than $141,060.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Mechanical Engineers is expected to change by 7.0%, and there should be roughly 20,200 open positions for Mechanical Engineers every year.

Median annual salary
$90,160
Typical salary range
$58,410 - $141,060
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
7.0%

What personality traits are common among Mechanical Engineers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Mechanical Engineer are usually higher in their Investigative, Realistic, and Conventional interests.

Mechanical Engineers typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Mechanical Engineers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Mechanical Engineers typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Mechanical Engineer tend to value Recognition, Achievement, and Independence.

Most importantly, Mechanical Engineers strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Second, Mechanical Engineers strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Mechanical Engineers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Mechanical Engineers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as analytical thinking, attention to detail, and innovation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Mechanical Engineers, ranked by importance:

Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Innovation
Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Mechanical Engineers need?

Many Mechanical Engineers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Mechanical Engineers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Mechanical Engineers

  • 0.8% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 4.0% completed high school or secondary school
  • 6.8% completed some college coursework
  • 8.9% earned a Associate's degree
  • 54.3% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 21.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 3.6% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical Engineers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as engineering and technology, mathematics, or design knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Mechanical Engineers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Design
Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Physics
Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.

Important Abilities needed by Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical Engineers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Mechanical Engineers need abilities such as oral comprehension, written comprehension, and information ordering in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Mechanical Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Critical Skills needed by Mechanical Engineers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Mechanical Engineers frequently use skills like reading comprehension, active listening, and mathematics to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Mechanical Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Mathematics
Using mathematics to solve problems.
Science
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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