What do mechanical engineers do? Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines.
- Analyze problems to see how mechanical and thermal devices might help solve a problem
- Design or redesign mechanical and thermal devices or subsystems, using analysis and computer-aided design
- Investigate equipment failures or difficulties to diagnose faulty operation and to recommend remedies
- Develop and test prototypes of devices they design
- Analyze the test results and change the design or system as needed
- Oversee the manufacturing process for the device
Mechanical engineers design and oversee the manufacture of many products ranging from medical devices to new batteries.
Mechanical engineers design machines, such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines. These professionals can also design refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.
Mechanical Engineers and Computers
Like other engineers, mechanical engineers use computers extensively. Mechanical engineers are routinely responsible for the integration of sensors, controllers, and machinery.
Computer technology helps mechanical engineers create and analyze designs, run simulations and test how a machine is likely to work, interact with connected systems, and generate specifications for parts.
Types of Mechanical Engineers
Auto Research Engineers
These engineers work to improve traditional features of cars such as suspension, and they also work on aerodynamics and new possible fuels.
Heating and Cooling Systems Engineers
They work to create and maintain environmental systems wherever temperatures and humidity must be kept within certain limits.
They develop such systems for airplanes, trains, cars, schools, and even computer rooms.
These engineers plan how robots will use sensors for detecting things based on light or smell, and they design how these sensors will fit into the designs of the robots.
Mechanical engineers held about 316,300 jobs in 2019.
Where Mechanical Engineers Work
Mechanical engineers generally work in offices. They may occasionally visit worksites where a problem or piece of equipment needs their personal attention. In most settings, they work with other engineers, engineering technicians, and other professionals as part of a team.
Most mechanical engineers work full time and some work more than 40 hours a week.
Mechanical engineers need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology.
Mechanical engineering programs usually include courses in mathematics and life and physical sciences, as well as engineering and design.
Mechanical engineering technology programs focus less on theory and more on the practical application of engineering principles.
They may emphasize internships and co-ops to prepare students for work in industry.
Some colleges and universities offer 5-year programs that allow students to obtain both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
Some 5-year or even 6-year cooperative plans combine classroom study with practical work, enabling students to gain valuable experience and earn money to finance part of their education.
ABET accredits programs in engineering and engineering technology.
Most employers prefer to hire students from an accredited program.
A degree from an ABET-accredited program is usually necessary to become a licensed professional engineer.
The Engineer Code of Ethics
Engineers of any discipline are held to a high standard of ethics. The engineer code of conduct requires engineers to act the in the best interest of the public and to keep them safe from harm. The National Society of Professional Engineers has a version of the code of ethics here.
Mechanical Engineer Sample Resume and Writing Guide
When writing any resume, you should be clear, concise and convey your value to the hiring manager. Think of your mechanical engineering resume as the product that will meet the specifications of the job application.
Best Format for Mechanical Engineer Resume
The best resume format for a mechanical engineer is reverse chronological. That means you list your most current work experience first.
Here’s a guide on how to write your resume if you have no job experience.
Remember people are scanning your resume or using bots to scan your resume. It’s crucial to have the job description keywords related to your skills and experience on your resume. The design should be simple, well-organized and 2 pages max.
Mechanical Engineer Personality Type INTP
The INTP personality is a good match for being a mechanical engineer.
If you are an INTP personality, you are inventive, creative and super smart. It is one of the rarest personality types and represents just 3% of the population.
The INTP demands more out of a career than simply pushing papers or climbing a corporate ladder. But it doesn’t want a touchy-feely profession either. As such, this personality type is also referred to as the Logician.
INTPs at a Glance
|Inner or outer world||Introvert|
|How they receive information||Intuitive|
|Head or heart||Thinker|
|How they make decisions||Perceiver|
|Job fits||mathematician, systems analyst, |
physicist, entrepreneur, freelancer
|Job flops||corporate environment, |
management, service jobs,
emotionally fulfilling careers
|How to spot one||They live in their own heads, |
hate chit-chat, good enough is
never good enough
|What they love||jumping into a project, |
small, technical workspaces,
being uninterrupted, theoretical information,
Important Qualities Needed to Be a Mechanical Engineer
Creativity. Mechanical engineers design and build complex pieces of equipment and machinery. A creative mind is essential for this kind of work.
Listening skills. Mechanical engineers often work on projects with others, such as architects and computer scientists. They must listen to and analyze different approaches made by other experts to complete the task at hand.
Math skills. Mechanical engineers use the principles of calculus, statistics, and other advanced subjects in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.
Mechanical skills. Mechanical skills allow engineers to apply basic engineering concepts and mechanical processes to the design of new devices and systems.
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.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a mechanical engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career.
Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public.
State licensure generally requires
- A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
- A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
- Relevant work experience typically at least 4 years
- A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam.
The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.
Several states require engineers to take continuing education to renew their licenses every year.
Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the other state’s licensing requirements meet or exceed their own licensing requirements.
Several professional organizations offer a variety of certification programs for engineers to demonstrate competency in specific fields of mechanical engineering.
During high school students can attend engineering summer camps to see what these and other engineers do. Attending these camps can help students plan their coursework for the remainder of their time in high school.
A Ph.D. is essential for engineering faculty positions in higher education, as well as for some research and development programs. Mechanical engineers may earn graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology, broaden their education, and enhance their project management skills. Mechanical engineers may become administrators or managers after gaining work experience.
The median annual wage for mechanical engineers was $88,430 in May 2019.
Most mechanical engineers work full time and some work more than 40 hours a week.
For more information about general engineering education and mechanical engineering career resources, visit
Technology Student Association
For information about engineering summer camps, visit
For more information about accredited engineering programs, visit
For more information about licensure as a mechanical engineer, visit
National Society of Professional Engineers
For information about certification, visit
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