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Engineering design

Mechanical engineer

Mechanical engineers develop and design the components and machinery used in manufacturing, construction and other industries.

Annual Salary

£22,000 to £55,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; on shifts

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Mechanical engineer jobs in 2025.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

Your duties could include:

  • turning research ideas into technical plans, using computer aided design/modelling (CAD/CAM)
  • carrying out surveys of mechanical systems and equipment
  • researching and assessing new products and innovations
  • presenting design plans and data to managers and clients
  • producing other technical documents
  • supporting the contract team when bidding for new work
  • overseeing maintenance programmes and quality control
  • managing and leading a project team of technicians, designers and other engineering professionals

Working environment

You could work at a client's business, in an office or in a factory.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
University

You could do a higher national diploma or degree in:

  • mechanical engineering
  • electromechanical engineering
  • mechatronics
  • engineering manufacturing

Some courses include a year working in industry. This experience could be useful when you start applying for jobs after finishing your course.

You could also arrange your own work placement with a company.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including maths and physics
For more information
College

You could do a Level 4 and 5 Higher National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at college before looking for work.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, a level 3 diploma or relevant experience for a level 4 or level 5 course
For more information
Apprenticeship

You may be able to get into this career by doing a manufacturing engineer degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
For more information
Work

You could start as a mechanical engineering technician and do further training on the job to qualify as an engineer.

Direct application

You can apply for jobs directly if you've got qualifications and several years' experience in engineering.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about how to become an engineer through the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Tomorrow's Engineers.

You could work for local and central government, the armed services, manufacturers in all industries, research and development facilities and public utilities.

With incorporated or chartered engineer status you could move into project management roles, specialise in a particular field, work in research or become an engineering consultant.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of physics
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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