Mechanical engineer


Career outlook for mechanical engineer

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You'd design and test components and machines. It'd be your job to oversee the set-up of machines and check they work correctly.

You could work on different projects in many industries including:

  • manufacturing
  • construction
  • water
  • power
  • health
  • transport
  • space

For example, you could work in renewable energy to install off-shore wind turbines. Design and test improvements to prosthetic implants to help people with limited mobility. Or work on the life support systems needed to keep people alive and comfortable in orbit.

What you might do

  • turn research ideas into technical plans
  • use computer aided design/modelling (CAD/CAM) programs
  • survey mechanical systems and equipment to check they're working
  • research 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'd manage and lead a project team of technicians, designers and craftspeople. They'd carry out installation and maintenance work on the machines you design.

Working conditions


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.


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


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

UK employment status





Self employed


Create a qualification route

We've found some examples of the qualifications that could help you get this job.

Discover my route

Search course options

Thinking about your future? There are lots of courses available that could interest you. Use our course search to explore course options.

Find courses

Search job opportunities

If you're looking for your new career our job search can help you. Discover interesting opportunities and decide your next steps.

Find a job

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Cooperating
  • Working with technology
  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Managing resources
  • Coaching
  • Delegating

Skills Explorer

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.

Our Skills Explorer tool will help you understand what skills you have and match them to jobs that might suit you.

Use the Skills Explorer tool

Getting in

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


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.