Mechanical engineers design and develop technology, products and materials that improve processes and solve problems.
They are often also involved in testing and installation. As many industries rely on mechanical systems, this area of engineering is one of the most diverse and offers opportunities to work in most industries, including energy, construction and manufacturing.
Mechanical engineers can work on everything from devising methods for reducing emissions from energy plants, such as carbon capture and storage, to designing robotic automation systems or new medical devices that could save lives.
In order to have your pick of industries, you need to have skills that can be adapted to a number of different situations. It's all worth it though – because mechanical engineering skills are so adaptable, you'll have the chance to earn more than most of the other engineering sectors.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers is a professional organisation that supports people who work in the industry, offering training and networking opportunities that help with career development. Students and apprentices can join for free.
You will probably work standard office hours, but a lot of this job is about meeting deadlines, so you may need to stay late to finish something on time. You'll probably split your time between the office and the factory or site that you're doing the work for. It's also important that you stay on top of the latest advancements in your field, so you'll need to attend classes and conferences to keep your skills current.
Starting salaries are usually between £22,000 and £26,000 a year, with experienced mechanical engineers being able to earn between £30,000 and £50,000.
This varies depending on the type of job and company.
To work in mechanical engineering you will need to acquire a HNC/HND, foundation degree or degree in relevant engineering subject.
After a Bachelors Degree
Postgraduate study is not essential to enter into manugfacturing engineering industry but a masters qualification can help further your career. There are many reputable universities who offer postgraduate courses in nuclear subjects.
Graduate training schemes are available with many employers straight after your bachelors degree. For entry onto one of these schemes usually requires a degree at 2:2 class or above, in a relevant technical or scientific subject.
Different roles within the mechanical engineering field will require slightly different specialist skills but in general you will need these skills to succeed:
The necessary skills and experience to enter into the mechanical engineering field comes through academic learning in the main, but it will not hurt your changes of gaining employment if you have a practical understanding of engineering workplaces.
Some sandwich courses include a year in industry which offer a useful advantage when applying for a job. Organising your own placement, for instance during the summer break, would also offer you an advantage.