Everything you need to know about a mechanical engineer career

Working as a mechanical engineer allows you to participate in developing and designing machines that solve human problems. You can also control and automate manufacturing systems and find solutions to environmental problems. Being a mechanical engineer increases your breadth of knowledge and creativity in multiple disciplines.

From the salary expectations to daily responsibilities, here's everything there is to know about a career as a mechanical engineer.

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best jobs 2023

Each year, a series of experts consult to develop the list of the 15 best jobs with the best salary projections, job availability and opportunity for career development.

You can also dive in:

This mechanical engineer role is part of the Top 15 Best Jobs in Canada in 2023, ranking in 3rd position.

Here's why.

why is this job in demand?

Like many sectors, there is a talent shortage of mechanical engineers. There is a talent shortage in the Canadian workforce, making mechanical engineering a great career opportunity. With a growing renewable energy sector, there is a significant demand for talent with these skills, not only in the renewables sector but also in industries, including aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, and biomedical.

what are the career prospects?

As with many other STEM positions, talent for mechanical engineers is in short supply in many areas of Canada. It is expected that Canada will have 11,300 new job openings for mechanical engineers between now and 2028. Because of the expanding renewable energy sector, mechanical engineers will see even more growth opportunities. The top specializations in mechanical engineering are automation, robotics and mechatronics, computational engineering, machine and automotive design, and fluid Mechanics. 

what can you expect in terms of salary?

For a mechanical engineer, entry-level positions can vary between 66k to 114k, whereas people with 5 years of experience will earn between 76k to 131k. Where you will get the best salary: Northern Alberta

what skills do you need to thrive on the job?

Mechanical engineers must have a broad range of knowledge about physics, mathematics, mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity, and structural analysis. Mechanical engineers design and build complex equipment and machinery, so they need to use their knowledge of math, physics and technology to understand any problems they face. They must have excellent research and design skills to deliver solutions. Mechanical engineers also need to have a firm understanding of computer programs such as CAD, Engineering Design, Solidworks, etc. 

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2

about the role

what is the job of a mechanical engineer? 

Mechanical engineers play a vital role in various industries, including aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, and biomedical. Mechanical engineers are tasked with designing, analyzing, developing, and maintaining automated systems. They also carry out tasks linked to computerized systems' analysis, setup, use, and upkeep.

what do mechanical engineer jobs entail?

As a mechanical engineer, you will play a crucial role in diverse industries, from aerospace to electronics and automation. Your job entails designing, building, and testing multiple devices, tools, engines, and machines. Whether it's a miniature tool or a large machine, you can enhance its functionality and aesthetics by improving the design process.

what is a typical work schedule for mechanical engineers

Typically, you will work between eight and ten hours a day, and the workdays may be the regular 9 to 5 p.m. start and finish times. However, with a deadline looming, your workdays can be longer. You may be required to put in evening overtime, weekends, and holidays. Most of your work will be in an office setting, especially during the development and design process. However, some mechanical engineers do offsite work in manufacturing plants, especially during a project's building and testing stages. During testing stages, the work hours can increase up to 60 hours a week. Most companies hire mechanical engineers on a full-time basis, but some industries offer part-time jobs. Some machines require round-the-clock monitoring in manufacturing and biotechnology, and most companies provide shift work schedules.

what are the pros of mechanical engineer jobs?

  • Gratifying career: As a mechanical engineer, your projects involve designing machines and tools that increase efficiency. You also enhance automation in manufacturing industries and improve the quality of finished products. Finishing projects successfully is an incredibly gratifying experience since you can revolutionize an entire industry.
  • Strong job prospects: Aside from great job satisfaction, your career prospects are promising, especially if you work in the manufacturing sector. You can also train in various areas of specialization like design and simulation and build your career from junior level positions to senior and managerial positions.
  • Lucrative compensation package: Working in mechanical engineering is a lucrative career with a generous compensation package. You can earn an attractive basic salary that comes with numerous benefits and allowances. For instance, most manufacturing industries provide health cover. If you specialize, your earning will skyrocket. Participating in profit sharing also earns you bonuses or commissions.

what are the cons of mechanical engineer jobs?

  • Shrinking growth in some fields: While most mechanical engineering jobs are on the rise, some specialties are facing a decline. The limited job prospects in some manufacturing sectors due to automation can affect your career progression. Hence, you need ongoing training to stay on top of the field and pivot to the changing technological standards.
  • Spending a fair amount of time on your desk: Most people join mechanical engineering due to the hands-on experience and time spent building machines. However, you will also spend a considerable amount of time on your desk designing and solving problems that arise during testing.
  • Long hours: Building a complex machine or tool from scratch is great, but it involves long work hours. You can work an average of 40 hours a week, and with strict deadlines, you have to extend your work throughout weekends and national holidays. Massive projects also require dedication to minimize mistakes.
  • A male-dominated field: Despite numerous empowerment efforts to attract women to the engineering field, mechanical engineering is still a male-dominated field. However, the few women in the field are making great strides encouraging others to join.
woman repairing a equipment
woman repairing a equipment

what are common mechanical engineer interview questions?

While mechanical engineer interview questions vary depending on the employer, some of the common questions include:

  • What keeps you motivated as a mechanical engineer? The hiring manager wants to know that you can work long hours and stay motivated throughout the project. In your answer, give a few strategies that keep you mentally and physically motivated. Ensure you show that you will have a positive attitude.
  • Can you make presentations to clients? In your answer, show your ability to communicate complex projects to clients with ease. Effective communication will also show that you are a good team player who follows instructions accurately.
  • Which project did you work on and failed? The hiring manager wants to know how you handle failure. Therefore, your answer should show the mistakes you made and the lessons learned.

mechanical engineer resume and cover letter requirements

When updating your resume, ensure you include the following elements:

  • Latest relevant work experience
  • Work-related social media accounts
  • Education and qualifications
  • Certifications and awards
  • Skills and competencies

Updating your CV and using the latest format isn't enough to get you an interview. You need to use relevant keywords that the applicant tracking system uses to shortlist candidates. Most of the keywords are skills related to the job. You should also use the keywords in your cover letter to increase your prospects. Your cover letter must also showcase your personality and extra skills that can benefit your potential employer.

what is the job outlook for mechanical engineers?

The increased demand for mechanical engineers is due to the rise in automation and the growth of the manufacturing industry. In Canada, the job openings for mechanical engineers between 2019 and 2028 are expected to reach 11,300. Aside from industry expansion, retirements and employment growths will also increase mechanical engineer vacancies. With retirement representing 57% of the job openings, employment opportunities in mechanical engineering are expected to grow at a steady rate. Aside from job prospects, being a mechanical engineer also gives you a steady career progression. You will be a junior engineer at the entry-level and graduate to the mid-level mechanical engineer position as you gain experience. At the senior level, your responsibilities include management. With enough experience, you can open a consultancy firm or start a manufacturing business.

what are the different types of mechanical engineer jobs?

Mechanical engineering is a broad career, and you can choose from the following types:

  • Manufacturing engineer: Working as a mechanical engineer in manufacturing involves understanding the production process and improving efficiency. That includes transforming ideas and design concepts into products like tools, machines, and electronics. You must also test the products and conduct a quality assessment to ensure they meet the industry standards.
  • Thermal engineer: Your primary responsibility as a thermal engineer is to create and maintain a safe environment through the heating and cooling system. Some of the tasks include designing heating and air conditioning systems, supervising installation, and ensuring proper maintenance.
  • Vehicle/automotive engineer: In vehicle engineering, you will be involved in vehicles' development, manufacturing, and production. Some of the responsibilities include inventing vehicle and motorcycle designs, assembling the parts, and testing their functionality. Within automotive mechanical engineering, you can work on fuel economy, safety engineering, or quality management. All these tasks work towards improving the efficiency and functionality of the vehicles.
  • Aerospace engineer: As an aerospace engineer, your job involves researching and investing in designs for flight vehicles. Your team will construct, test, or maintain helicopters, rockets, spacecraft, and satellites. Other tasks include maintaining fuel efficiency, improving flight safety, and reducing the environmental impact of flight vehicles.
  • Acoustical engineer: When you are an acoustical engineer, you design products that control noise and vibrations. Aside from designing sound barriers and noise buffers, your expertise in ultrasonic frequencies is also applicable in medicine and non-destructive testing.

what are the duties and responsibilities of mechanical engineers?

Responsibilities vary depending on the industry, but some of the common tasks you will perform include:

  • Project planning and analysis: When you come up with a project idea, you have to plan the steps involved in designing the product to its completion. The planning stage will involve an analysis of the existing data to determine the viability of the product. For instance, if you want to create a new machine, you need to determine how your idea improves efficiency and functionality. If the project is viable, you must also allocate resources, plan for staffing, and acquire materials.
  • Interpreting engineering designs: If you are working in the manufacturing industry, you need to interpret the engineering plans for your team. Mechanical engineers in construction companies can also simplify the construction drawings and explain the safety measures for handling various machines and equipment.
  • Installation and maintenance of machinery and equipment: Aside from designing machinery, you are also responsible for installing and testing equipment functionality. Proper installation is necessary to ensure optimum functioning and the test run helps you identify faulty parts before handing over the equipment to other workers. Your job also includes regular maintenance and servicing of the machinery to ensure they meet the industry standards and don't pose a danger to workers.
  • Keeping records: While most of your work will be designing and creating prototypes, you must maintain accurate records. For instance, the design phase and installation need to be documented for easy follow-up by supervisors. You should also keep a record of the maintenance and repair schedules. In case of a malfunction, the engineer checking for faults can easily detect the problem from your reports.
  • Inspection and maintaining quality standards: As a mechanical engineer, you are also the material control and quality engineer. Therefore, inspecting the material supplies and checking their quality is part of your job. Aside from ensuring steady supply, you are also responsible for eliminating inefficiencies in the production process. You should ensure no materials are wasted, and the final product meets the quality standards expected by the client.

where do mechanical engineers typically work?

As a mechanical engineer, you will work in almost every job sector, from manufacturing firms to engineering consultancy services. Some of the areas you can secure a job include:

  • Architectural and engineering-related services: Companies that provide construction and design services for infrastructure projects and commercial buildings.
  • Manufacturing industries: You can secure a job in machinery manufacturing firms or aerospace and automotive production companies. The manufacturing businesses are in the private sector or government agencies.
  • Federal executive branch: Governments also need mechanical engineers to design military infrastructure projects, mints, and space probes for environmental agencies.
  • Research & development: You can work in scientific research to develop innovative technologies and improve existing technologies. The research & development firms are in academia or the private sector.

ready to grow your career in the engineering sector?

Make sure your resume is up-to-date, including information about your technical skills and certifications. Then share it with us to connect with a recruiter and be matched with job opportunities.

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3

salary

what is the average salary for a mechanical engineer?

In Canada, entry-level mechanical engineers earn an average salary of $50,700 per year with an average hourly rate of $26. However, with experience and specialization, you can earn an average of $62.50 per hour or $121,875 per year. The industry you work in and the company size affect your compensation package. Some employers provide allowances and bonuses, which increase your salary. Some locations also attract competitive payments due to the cost of living and high demand for mechanical engineers.

average mechanical engineer salaries in canada

  • annual: $78,000
  • monthly: $6,000
  • weekly: $1,500
  • hourly: $40

Top paying areas for mechanical engineers in Canada include British Columbia, Alberta, and Nova Scotia.

These numbers can vary depending on your location and the type of position you're looking for. Check out our salary guide to get a better idea of the average salary for your job based on your location.

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4

skills & training

what skills and competencies do mechanical engineers need?

Aside from work experience, you need the following skills and competencies to increase your chances of securing a job:

  • Problem-solving ability: Whether you are upgrading existing technology or developing a new one, your work involves solving a problem for your client. You need to figure out ways to boost efficiency or increase the capabilities of thermal devices and machines. To provide the best solutions, you should have good problem-solving and analytical skills. The soft skills will help you come up with ideas to solve your problems faster.
  • Creativity: As a mechanical engineer, your responsibility includes conceiving project ideas that improve manufacturing productivity or taking advantage of the existing technology. After coming up with an idea, the conceptualization and design processes begin. Developing prototypes for your ideas also require a high level of creativity.
  • Communication skills: When explaining a new product to a client, you need to use simple terms instead of engineering jargon. Communication is also essential during production since you may need to translate instructions to colleagues who are not trained engineers. Sometimes, mechanical engineers are part of the marketing team. That makes communication skills necessary for presentations in sales events and conferences.
  • Mathematical skills: As a mechanical engineer, you will solve complex mathematical problems. Hence, you need strong math skills to excel in your job. Computing skills come in handy when you are using computer-aided design and modelling to create technical plans. An aptitude for math and computer skills also assists in budget planning and analyzing data during the testing stages of product development.
  • Collaboration: When you are a mechanical engineer, you will work with multiple specialists and teams, including architects, designers, and other engineers. If you are not a good team player, some projects may be impossible to accomplish, or the final product could be substandard.

what training and certifications do mechanical engineers need?

Your path towards a mechanical engineering career begins with an undergraduate degree or certificate course.

  • Bachelor’s degree: You can undertake a mechanical engineering degree or an engineering program to kick-start your career. In undergraduate programs, practical experience and internships are important for imparting knowledge and skills in mechanical engineering. Within the undergraduate program, you can tackle one field of study like aerospace, manufacturing, automotive, or robotics.
  • Master’s program: While a degree earns you a secure job with promising prospects, you can specialize further in your master's program. Specializations make you an expert in a specific field and improve your chances of career progression.

ready to grow your career in the engineering sector?

Make sure your resume is up-to-date, including information about your technical skills and certifications. Then share it with us to connect with a recruiter and be matched with job opportunities.

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5

faq

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about mechanical engineer jobs.

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meet a recruiter

Make sure your resume is up-to-date, including information about your technical skills and certifications. Then share it with us to connect with a recruiter and be matched with job opportunities.

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