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Mechanical engineer

Mechanical engineers design, build and install machinery used in industries like power, engineering, transport and manufacturing.

Annual Salary

£26,000 to £52,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; on shifts

Future employment

There will be 2.4% more Mechanical engineer jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As a mechanical engineer, you could:

  • turn research ideas into technical plans, using computer aided design software
  • test mechanical systems and analyse data to make improvements
  • assess the safety of mechanical machinery and equipment
  • oversee maintenance programmes in buildings, power stations and production plants
  • manage a project team of technicians, designers and other engineering professionals

Working environment

You could work in an office, in a factory or visit sites.

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

You could do a higher national diploma or degree in:

  • mechanical engineering
  • electromechanical engineering
  • mechatronics
  • engineering manufacturing

The Engineering Council has information on accredited courses.

You should try to get some work experience during your course through:internships; summer or Easter vacation schemes; a placement year in industry; a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) ambassador scheme

This will help you to make contacts and pick up work skills that will be useful when you start applying for graduate jobs.

Your university careers service can help you find suitable opportunities.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

You could complete a college course before going on to do a higher level engineering qualification or an apprenticeship.

Courses include:

  • mechanical engineering
  • mechanical engineering technology
  • mechanical engineering - machine operations
  • T Level in Maintenance, Installation and Repair for Engineering

Before you finish your course, you could apply for a paid work placement through the Engineering Development Trust, which offers a chance to use your engineering skills and improve your career prospects.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for these courses vary.

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T Level
For more information

You could do an apprenticeship to become a mechanical engineer. These include:

  • Manufacturing Engineer Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship
  • Electro-Mechanical Engineer Level 6 Apprenticeship - leading to a professional qualification

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 degree apprenticeship
For more information

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

More information

Further information

You can find out more about how to become a mechanical engineer from:the Institution of Mechanical Engineers; Tomorrow's Engineers

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You'll be able to use your skills in industries, like:manufacturing; construction; energy and utilities; transport

With experience, you could move into senior project management roles, specialise in research and development or become an engineering consultant.

You could work towards chartered engineer status through the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. This would give you industry recognition of your skills and knowledge and open up more opportunities for career development.

Working in a university or teaching in further education are also options open to you.

Mechanical engineers help bring the design of satellites and space platforms into a reality by developing and testing satellite manoeuvrability systems, sensor and data processing integration as well as the launch systems. 

Examples of post-16 courses you could study at a local school or college

  • Maths, Sciences A-levels
  • Level 2/3 Aircraft Maintenance Engineering 
  • Engineering and Manufacturing T-Level 

Find a local provider

Examples of post-18 courses you could study at a local provider

Search for a degree course

Apprenticeships you may be able to take with local employers

  • Level 2-3 Engineering Apprenticeship
  • Level 3 Highways Engineer Apprenticeship

Search for apprenticeship vacancies

Employers in the South West 

  • Thales Alenia Space
  • Frazer Nash Consulting
  • National Composites Centre 
  • Rolls Royce
  • GKN
  • GE Aviation
  • Moog
  • Jacobs
  • Airbus
  • Universities of Bristol, Bath and West of England (UWE)
  • SpaceForge
  • BAE Systems
  • Ministry of Defence

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to work well with others
  • 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 confidently
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