By studying a course like mechanical engineering in the UK, you’ll develop a range of maths, science and computing skills. You’ll also learn and develop vital skills at world-class facilities and high-quality teaching which will help in your career. But, you might not know exactly what you can do with your well-earned qualification once you’ve graduated.
Whether you're interested in studying mechanical engineering or you’re already studying it as your course, here are six fantastic mechanical engineering career paths you could take:
- Aerospace engineer
- Automotive engineer
- CAD (Computer-Aided Design) technician
- Maintenance engineer
- Mechanical engineer
- Nuclear engineer
1. Aerospace engineer
An aerospace engineer works on developing either aircraft or spacecraft. The two main paths in this job are aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. Some of the tasks involved in these careers include:
- using designs to research and develop equipment and prototypes
- using computer-aided design software
- overseeing the construction of airframes
- solving problems within design, development and testing procedures
Choosing a course which offers a design and manufacturing module will provide you with the skills you need to apply for a job in this area. In particular, studying either for a mechanical engineering or aerospace engineering degree would help. These include knowledge of materials, a good understanding of manufacturing systems and the development of practical skills.
2. Automotive engineer
An automotive engineer develops and designs vehicle structure and system ideas. They also build and trial prototypes through computer simulations. On a normal working day, you may do tasks such as:
- converting designs into blueprints for testing
- running prototypes of ideas through simulations
- working on engine, electrical and electronic systems
A university degree in mechanical engineering, though not always required, is beneficial to enter this industry. The UK’s leading Russell Group universities provide some of the best research facilities to maximise the information taught.
University courses which offer modules in mechanical and electrical sciences include information and skills you need to succeed in this career. For example, in topics like emerging technologies and the principles of AC circuits. These areas are particularly important in this job role, due to the rising popularity of electric cars.
3. CAD (Computer-Aided Design) technician
A CAD technician uses software to make technical plans for producing products used in construction, engineering and manufacturing. They create an electronic design of the product sketches previously drawn.
A mechanical engineering degree isn’t always required to become a CAD technician, however the skills gained through completing a course such as this can be a great help and give you a headstart.
A design and manufacturing module will provide you with an in-depth knowledge of the design methodology and manufacturing processes a CAD technician would use on a typical day-to-day basis.
It’s also important to check the universities you are considering offer services like high-quality CAD facilities so you can practice your new skills as you learn.
4. Maintenance engineer
A maintenance engineer designs upkeep plans and regularly tests equipment and processes for faults. They also optimise companies’ budgets and procedures.
A mechanical engineering degree isn’t essential for this job role. But, the information and skills you’ll be taught will really help you perform the duties you’re expected to carry out.
To gain and improve the skills required for a maintenance engineering role, look for engineering-related courses which provide modules including:
- engineering mathematics and accounting - this helps when calculating budgets for departments and professional skills
- mechanics - this is useful when testing and improving processes
5. Mechanical engineer
A mechanical engineer is involved in several processes. They work from a project brief and help in the research, design, development, testing and application of systems.
Choose courses offering modules such as:
- engineering mathematics, computing, and enterprise. This module provides you with various vital skills needed for this job role, such as technical abilities and problem-solving techniques.
- design and manufacturing. You’ll learn about the important processes involved in mechanical engineering, such as: manufacturing processes, the design of structural frameworks and the creation of effective mechanical systems.
6. Nuclear engineer
A nuclear engineer carries out the research and process developments of many other engineering careers but, for this job role, it’s specific to systems used in nuclear energy.
In this position, you can specialise in lots of different areas, for example:
- health and safety
- process engineering
- project management
- reactor operation
University modules which teach analytical and problem-solving processes would be extremely useful for this job role. What you’d learn would help you successfully solve construction problems and complete machinery repairs.
Choosing a career is a big decision to make, but now you know about some of the career paths available, it’s an ideal time to start looking into your options. We’ve created a guide to help you - from tips on how to plan your ideal career path to a checklist to make sure you’re doing the necessary things to reach your career goal.
What steps can I take to start my career?
Now you know about just a few of the career choices available to you after completing a degree in mechanical engineering. Why not find out more about your options after university by clicking the link below and downloading your free copy of Newcastle University’s career guide?