Skills & Qualities of a Mechanical Engineer

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

A mechanical engineer is an engineering professional who researches, designs and tests a variety of mechanical parts or systems. This can include manufacturing systems or mechanisms to assist in processes and functionality of a manufacturing environment or product. These professionals can design everything from small mechanisms such as watch parts to large mechanical machines.


Most engineering educational programs include two years of general engineering, followed by two years of a specialized engineering discipline resulting in a bachelor's degree. Mechanical engineering occupations require at least a bachelor's degree of mechanical engineering, BSME. Employment opportunities may increase for mechanical engineers who obtain the Professional Engineer license which is administered by the National Society of Professional Engineers. Some states incorporate this credential into their engineer licensing requirements. This license is also highly recognized by employers.


Because mechanical engineers design mechanical parts and systems, they are required to use tools to design blue prints. With today's technology, blue prints are designed using computer-aided design, CAD, software. After a prototype is designed, mechanical engineers either assemble their work using a blue print or closely oversee the physical design process using the blue print. This includes testing and revising the mechanical product or part to ensure proper functioning.


Mechanical engineers must be creative and inquisitive to design a concept and make it a reality. This includes using analytical and mathematical abilities as well. Throughout the design process, mechanical engineers are responsible for effectively communicating the design concept both verbally and written, so excellent communication skills are required. Working with technical and non-technical teams, a mechanical engineer must understand and translate a concept into technical specifications for the mechanical design concept to be successful.

Careers and Salary

Mechanical engineers can work in a variety of careers including design engineer, drafter, sales engineer and test engineer to name a few. These professionals can also move into roles that involve other engineering skills such as manufacturing and industrial engineering. Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects six percent growth in employment of mechanical engineers between 2008 and 2018. In December 2010, PayScale reported an average salary ranging from $52,046 to $73,024 per year for mechanical engineers. Those who received the professional engineer license earned an average salary ranging from $80,313 to $103,199 per year.