Mechanical Engineer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Mechanical Engineer, or Facilities Mechanical Engineer, designs, builds and tests various mechanical devices, like industrial machines, transportation systems and robotics equipment. Their main duties include locating problems with various machinery, conducting experiments to improve different product designs and using CAD technology to build product designs.


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Mechanical Engineer duties and responsibilities

A Mechanical Engineer ensures that all mechanical systems work safely and efficiently to meet user needs. Their duties include:

  • Identifying deficiencies in mechanical processes and developing improvements
  • Designing and developing prototypes
  • Analyzing and testing prototypes and each revision of a device
  • Supervising the development of computer-aided design (CAD) project drawings from junior team members
  • Developing, initiating and managing all phases of projects
  • Preparing documentation of critical analysis and providing suggestions for correcting errors
  • Collaborating with Project Managers for proper allocation and tracking of resources


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What does a Mechanical Engineer do?

Mechanical Engineers work in a variety of industries, designing and developing machinery pieces that exceed customers’ needs and expectations. They also analyze and evaluate any issues with current products to develop effective solutions. After they design new products, they’ll conduct experiments on them to see how successful they are and to determine if any additional updates are needed. 

Mechanical Engineers use CAD technology to build designs and plans for upcoming products. They also create project schedules for their soon-to-be-released products and estimate their delivery dates and deadlines. To help Machine Operators use their newly-designed machines, Mechanical Engineers write technical manuals for their reference.


Mechanical Engineer skills and qualifications

These professionals need a variety of technical skills, industry knowledge and soft skills to work with team members in creating effective products and devices. These skills often include:

  • Knowledge of fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and other mechanical engineering concepts
  • Excellent math skills, including advanced geometry, calculus and physics
  • Familiarity with CAD and other mechanical design software
  • Creative thinking and innovation
  • Advanced problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  • Great interpersonal skills and teamwork abilities
  • Effective verbal and written communication
  • Commercial awareness, including an understanding of target user and market
  • Ability to work under pressure


Mechanical Engineer salary expectations

A Mechanical Engineer makes an average of $87,551 per year. Salary may depend on level of education, experience and geographical location.


Mechanical Engineer education and training requirements  

Mechanical Engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or another engineering discipline, such as biomedical or computer engineering. Their education typically includes theoretical coursework, hands-on projects and training with various programs that include computer programming, power systems and technically oriented material subjects, like hydraulics, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. 

These professionals are likely to hold or be in pursuit of a Professional Engineering (PE) license. To earn the PE licensure, candidates should have a bachelor’s degree from an institution accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and experience working under the supervision of a licensed engineer.


Mechanical Engineer experience requirements

Entry-level candidates may have gained experience during their studies through internships and cooperative education experiences. Others may have a few years of experience as a junior-level Mechanical Engineer. Experienced candidates with at least five years of experience may and/or an advanced degree may be qualified for a leadership Mechanical Engineer role. 

Depending on the needs of the role and workplace, relevant experience may be limited to a specific industry or include multiple engineering industries, including:

  • Automotive
  • Utilities and energy
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail and goods
  • Healthcare


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Frequently asked questions about Mechanical Engineers


Do Mechanical Engineers have different responsibilities in different industries?

There is a wide variety of different industries Mechanical Engineers may work in according to their skills, abilities and preferences. Some of them work in the power and electric industry, designing machines that produce power, like internal combustion engines, electric generators or gas and steam turbines. Others may work for office buildings and other businesses, creating designs for various elevators or escalators. 

There are some Mechanical Engineers who work for warehouses, building machines for Material Handlers to operate. This includes equipment like automated transfer stations and conveyor systems. 


What are the different types of Mechanical Engineers?

Mechanical Engineers can specialize in many different types of fields. Heating and Cooling Mechanical Systems Engineers focus their work on creating and maintaining various environmental systems to ensure temperatures and humidity remain within certain limits. They develop these systems for trains, schools, cars and airplanes. 

Robotic Mechanical Engineers build robots for various industries and companies. They design sensors and other special features for robots that different organizations can use to enhance their efficiencies. Auto Research Mechanical Engineers work primarily on cars, finding ways to improve their performances, capabilities and safety efficiencies for drivers and passengers. 


What's the difference between a Mechanical Engineer and an Industrial Engineer?

Though they both plan and build new designs that improve the efficiencies of various organizations, there are some key differences between a Mechanical and Industrial Engineer. Mechanical Engineers design a wide variety of products for different industries and supervise the installation of their many electrical units or engines. 

Industrial Engineers typically work primarily at industrial sites or factories. They build designs that help streamline the shipping and receiving process and find new ways to reorganize the workspace. 


What makes a good Mechanical Engineer?

A great Mechanical Engineer must be highly creative because they regularly build and invent unique and innovative products. They also need effective technical and computer skills to operate various computer systems and software, like CAD, to develop designs and plans. 

Top candidates need great verbal and written communication skills to effectively explain their products to clients and to provide clear written directions on how to use their machines and equipment. Since they usually handle their own projects, great project management abilities are often preferred to ensure Mechanical Engineers complete their projects on time and develop and follow schedules with strict deadlines for themselves.

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