what is a mechanical engineer?

As a mechanical engineer, you are tasked with designing, building and testing mechanical devices. You construct and modify a variety of machines and systems. You also install and maintain motors, equipment and industrial systems based on their desired uses. As a mechanical engineer, you develop specifications for designing and creating tools and systems. That means you assess a project's requirements and plan and develop mechanical designs for the new products. You also ascertain the performance of mechanical components by creating testing processes and conducting tests.

Mechanical engineers work in various industries. They use their knowledge of engineering concepts to develop machines used in the healthcare, power, transport and manufacturing sectors. Some also work in research facilities to develop and test advanced technologies, such as nanotechnology or biotechnology. The roles of mechanical engineers vary as different industries apply unique engineering concepts to create products and mechanical components. Since mechanical engineers are needed in all sectors, you can secure a job in your desired industry.

As a mechanical engineer, you require technical knowledge and problem-solving skills to modify existing machine designs. You should also demonstrate the scientific and numerical ability to solve complex mechanical issues.

Would working as a mechanical engineer suit your numerical skills and ability to solve complex mechanical issues? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a mechanical engineer role.

mechanical engineer jobs

average mechanical engineer salary

According to Job Bank, mechanical engineers take home an average salary of $122,048 annually. However, if you are new to the role, your earnings are lower since you have minimal experience and skills. You start with a salary of $77,722 per year, but the amount increases gradually with experience. The most experienced mechanical engineers make up to $125,578 yearly.

what factors affect the salary of a mechanical engineer?

Mechanical engineer salaries vary with experience and qualifications. Engineers with a licence usually take home higher salaries than entry-level mechanical engineers. Hence, improving your skills through internships and entry-level positions increases your salary prospects. A master's degree or professional certification in mechanical engineering also boosts your earning potential. You can negotiate a higher salary when you have specialized skills in a particular area.

The projects you work on also influence your earnings. When you work on large projects with unlimited funding, your salary reflects the complexity of the duties involved. Smaller projects have lower earnings due to the limited funds, but they offer great opportunities for mechanical engineers in entry-level positions.

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types of mechanical engineers

Some of the mechanical engineering fields and specialization options include:

  • manufacturing engineering: as a mechanical engineer, you play a vital role in manufacturing industries as you design the machines and technology used to create various products. Some mechanical engineers design equipment and machines for food production, as well as medical devices for diagnosis and medicine production. You also design specifications for the manufacturing of automobiles and household appliances, such as air-conditioning systems.
  • process engineering: as a mechanical engineer, you assess mechanical processes and develop modifications to improve efficiency and safety. You investigate the functions of machines and develop modifications to improve the systems. After testing, you install the systems to improve industrial processes.
  • robotics engineering: as a mechanical engineer, you can specialize in building and maintaining robots. Your job is to develop robot designs based on their functions and technology. You determine their performance, such as how the robots react to stimuli. You also create modifications and perform regular maintenance on the robots.
  • automotive engineering: as a mechanical engineer working in the automotive industry, you play a role in designing and manufacturing vehicles. You also participate in auto research to develop modifications that improve the performance of vehicles. For instance, you develop alternatives for powering and fuelling mechanisms.
woman repairing a equipment
woman repairing a equipment

working as a mechanical engineer

Are you looking for a position as a mechanical engineer? Before you join the role, find out the duties, tasks and work environments of mechanical engineers.


mechanical engineer skills and education

The requirements for becoming a mechanical engineer include:

  • educational qualifications: to become a mechanical engineer, pursue a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. Some employers also require a master's or doctorate in a related engineering discipline. A doctorate program allows you to specialize in a particular field.
  • licensing and professional certification: mechanical engineering is a regulated profession in Canada. Hence, you require a licence from a regulatory authority before you start working. After graduation, you are eligible for a professional engineer licence after completing four years of supervised work and passing the professional practice examination. The regulatory body varies per province or territory. For instance, in New Brunswick, you register with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick, while the Engineers and Geoscientists BC organization regulates the profession in British Columbia.

competencies and characteristics of mechanical engineers

Some of the transferable skills that a mechanical engineer requires include:

  • problem-solving skills: as a mechanical engineer, you should be good at analyzing and solving real-world problems. Problem-solving skills help you develop solutions and product modifications.
  • creativity: as a mechanical engineer, your creative powers enable you to invent and design products or solutions for different industrial processes. Artfully-designed mechanical components usually rely on your creativity.
  • math skills: becoming a mechanical engineer requires a strong aptitude for mathematics and numerical skills. Math skills are useful for analyzing data and applying mathematical concepts to design.
  • communication skills: as a mechanical engineer, you work with various professionals, including computer scientists, architects and other engineers. Your ability to communicate effectively helps you exchange ideas in a professional manner to achieve project success. It is also important to be an active listener to understand the details received from the professionals.
  • project management skills: since your job is to execute plans, you require project management skills. It helps you manage the projects within the allocated time and budget.


Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a mechanical engineer.


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