Mechanical engineering technicians help mechanical engineers design, develop, test, and manufacture mechanical devices, including tools, engines, and machines. They may make sketches and rough layouts, record and analyze data, make calculations and estimates, and report their findings.

Duties

Mechanical engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Evaluate design drawings for new or changed tools by measuring dimensions on the drawings and comparing them with the original specifications
  • Prepare layouts and drawings of parts to be made and of the process for putting them together
  • Discuss changes with coworkers—for example, in the design of the part, in the way it will be made and put together, and in the techniques and process they will use
  • Review instructions and blueprints for the project to ensure the test specifications and procedures are followed and objectives are met
  • Plan, produce, and assemble new or changed mechanical parts for products, such as industrial machinery or equipment
  • Set up and conduct tests of complete units and of parts as they would actually be used, as a way to investigate proposals for improving equipment performance
  • Record test procedures and results, numerical and graphical data, and recommendations for changes in products or test methods
  • Compare test results to design specifications and test objectives

Mechanical engineering technicians also estimate labor costs, equipment life, and plant space. Some test and inspect machines and equipment or work with engineers to eliminate production problems. They may assist in testing products by, for example, setting up instrumentation for vehicle crash tests.

Work Environment: 

Mechanical engineering technicians held about 47,500 jobs in 2012. They work closely with mechanical engineers and are employed primarily in traditional manufacturing settings and in research and development laboratories.

The industries employing the most mechanical engineering technicians in 2012 were as follows:

Engineering services 19%
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 7
Motor vehicle parts manufacturing 6
Testing laboratories 5
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and
control instruments manufacturing
5

Some mechanical engineering technicians may be exposed to hazards from equipment, chemicals, or toxic materials, but injuries are rare as long as proper procedures are followed.

Work Schedules

Most mechanical engineering technicians work full time.

Education and Training: 

Most employers prefer to hire candidates with associate’s degrees or other postsecondary training in mechanical engineering technology. Prospective engineering technicians should take as many science and math courses as possible while in high school.

Education

Prospective mechanical engineering technicians usually take courses in fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and mechanical design in a program leading to an associate’s degree. ABET accredits programs that include at least college algebra, trigonometry, and basic science courses. Associate’s degree programs are found in the following types of institutions:

  • Vocational–technical schools, which include postsecondary public institutions that serve local students and emphasize training needed by local employers
  • Community colleges, which offer programs similar to those in technical institutes but include more theory-based and liberal arts coursework

Completing an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering technology opens the way to studying for a bachelor’s degree.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Mechanical engineering technicians must be able to clearly understand and follow instructions or, if they do not understand, ask their supervisors to explain. They must be able to clearly explain the need for changes in designs or test procedures both verbally and in writing.

Creativity. Mechanical engineering technicians help mechanical engineers bring their plans and designs to life. This often requires helping the engineer to overcome problems that might not have been anticipated.

Detail oriented. Mechanical engineering technicians must make precise measurements and keep accurate records for mechanical engineers.

Interpersonal skills. Mechanical engineering technicians must be able to take instructions and offer advice when it is needed.

Math skills. Mechanical engineering technicians use mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Mechanical skills. Mechanical engineering technicians must apply theory and instructions from engineers by making new components for industrial machinery or equipment. They may need to be able to operate machinery such as drill presses, grinders, and engine lathes.

Pay: 

The median annual wage for mechanical engineering technicians was $51,980 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half of the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,370, and the top 10 percent earned more than $76,660.

In May 2012, the median annual wages in the top five industries in which these technicians worked were as follows:

Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and
control instruments manufacturing
$54,030
Research and development in the physical,
engineering, and life sciences
53,230
Engineering services 51,920
Motor vehicle parts manufacturing 51,610
Testing laboratories 48,290

Most mechanical engineering technicians work full time.

Job Outlook: 

Employment of mechanical engineering technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment in this occupation depends on the overall state of manufacturing.

Mechanical engineering technicians also work for firms in engineering services and in research and development, both of which provide contract services to manufacturing and other industries. Contracting for this work allows firms to hire these services at a lower cost than employing in-house technicians. Employment growth of mechanical engineering technicians will vary by industry.

Mechanical engineering technicians will find work in emerging fields, such as automation, remanufacturing, 3-D printing, and alternative energies.

Job Prospects

Mastering new technology and software will likely become more important for workers in this occupation. Those who gain skills to help deploy the latest technological developments should have the best job prospects.

For More Information: 

For more information about general engineering education and career resources, visit

American Society for Engineering Education

Technology Student Association

For information about accredited programs, visit

ABET

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh.

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