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What is mechanical engineering?

Engineering combines the fields of maths and science to build and improve the world around us. Put simply, if Mother Nature didn’t create it, an engineer did!

Mechanical engineering is the most popular and wide-ranging engineering discipline. It specifically deals with the design, development and improvement of the mechanical components and systems that make our world and lives function – everything from major infrastructure projects, to high-speed trains, artificial hearts and processing chocolate bars.

What do mechanical engineers do?

While the working day of a mechanical engineer is as varied as the industries they work in, they typically apply a mix of analytics and technical expertise to solve problems, develop new products and technologies, and improve processes.

What are the career prospects like for mechanical engineers?

Employment prospects for mechanical engineers are very good because engineering graduates and apprentices are in high demand. By 2020, engineering companies are expected to have 2.74 million job openings, of which, 1.86 million will be roles requiring engineering skills.

How much do mechanical engineers earn?

The average salary for an engineering graduate is £26,536, which is almost £5,000 more than the average for university leavers. Apprentices who become Engineering Technicians earn on average £26,836. With experience and professional qualifications, average basic salaries grow to around £70,000 for Chartered Engineers.

Am I suited to a career in mechanical engineering?

If you enjoy creating practical solutions to problems and like turning your ideas into reality, then a career in mechanical engineering could be for you. 

While having a passion for maths and science is important, the diverse nature of mechanical engineering means it’s a good fit for creative people with all sorts of interests. 

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships offer an alternative route into mechanical engineering from academic study. They are well suited to people who want to learn and earn at the same time. It typically takes between one and four years to gain a qualification this way.

Should I go to university or become an apprentice?

It depends what you’re looking for. Although many university courses have become more vocational, the main emphasis for most continues to be on education, learning and research. Apprenticeships offer more experience of the workplace and tend to be primarily focused on vocational training.

What subjects and qualifications do I need to become a mechanical engineer?

For most university courses in engineering, maths and physics A-levels are required. For apprenticeships, good GCSEs in maths and science are needed.

Further resources to learn more

There are lots of resources to help you learn more about careers in mechanical engineering, and plan your next steps.

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Find out more about gearing up for a career in mechanical engineering.