Mechanical engineer

Engineering
Produce

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Six year jobs forecast

The information is supplied by LMI For All

What's it like?

You would design and test components and machines like wind turbines, pumps for clean water and medical prosthetics to help people who have mobility difficulties.

You’d oversee the set-up of the machines and check that they work properly.

You could work on different projects in many industries including:

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Water
  • Power
  • Health
  • Transport

For example, you could work in renewable energy to install off-shore wind turbines. You could design the pumps and valves that deliver clean water to homes and businesses. Or you could design and test improvements to prosthetic implants to help people with limited mobility.

Depending on the job you would:

  • Turn research ideas into technical plans, using computer aided design/modelling (CAD/CAM) programs
  • Survey mechanical systems and equipment to check they're working properly
  • Research and assess new products and innovations
  • Present design plans and data to managers and clients
  • Produce technical documents for projects
  • Oversee maintenance programmes and quality control

You’d support the contract team in your company when they bid for new projects.

You would manage and lead a project team of technicians, designers and craftspeople who carry out installation and maintenance work.

Working conditions

Hours

You would normally work 37 to 40 hours a week, although this could increase depending on projects and deadlines. You may be on a shift system, which could include evenings and weekends, depending on your job.

Environment

Your working environment could vary from a modern, open-plan office to factory production areas and outdoor sites.

Travel

Depending on the contract, you may have to travel abroad at times.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Presenting to people
  • Using computers
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Being creative
  • Budgeting
  • Planning and organising
  • Time management

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) or postgraduate qualification (SCQF level 11) in Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronics or Applied Physics.

You can enter a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

Entry to a degree (SCQF level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and Highers at BBBB with Advanced Higher preferred, or a relevant HNC/HND. 

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by many courses and employers)
  • Science subjects, in particular physics (required by many courses and employers) 
  • English
  • Technologies subjects such as engineering science

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show understanding and experience of the industry such as Skills for Work Engineering Skills (SCFQ level 4).

Employers value work experience so finding courses with work placements or an internship, or working for a year in industry can be especially useful.

Once in a job it could benefit your career if you worked towards incorporated or chartered status with a relevant industry body and apply to the Engineering Council. You can also improve your career prospects by completing the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) continuing professional development (CPD) courses that allow you to develop specific skills and knowledge required by the automotive industry.