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What can you do with a mechanical engineering degree?

BENEFITS: Mechanical Engineering

WITH THE UK suffering a shortage of engineers, studying mechanical engineering at university level can help you unlock many promising career opportunities. We should emphasise that a degree alone won't get you a job, as The Engineer notes; however, it can still boost your appeal to employers.

Mechanical engineers are responsible for developing and designing machinery used across various sectors - but this still barely touches on the true range of the opportunities available.

A mechanical engineering degree can provide a broad base

While there are various strands of engineering each represented by a degree subject, the breadth of mechanical engineering - as both a subject and a degree - counts heavily in its favour.

Mike Grey, who has headed the Engineering Futures career team at Coventry University, has acknowledged that students can be tempted to "pick mechanical engineering because it's broad" - and, when searching for jobs, students "tend to rule themselves out more than the companies do".

The bread and butter of mechanical engineering

Exactly what your day-to-day routine will consist of can depend on the specific role. However, your duties could include several suggested on the National Careers Service website.

Those include using computer-aided design and modelling - known as CAD and CAM - to turn research concepts into technical plans. You might also regularly research and assess new products and innovations and hand design plans and data over to managers and clients.

In which industries could you work?

A vast array of sectors can rely on the expertise of mechanical engineers. These sectors include construction, health, water, power and transport.

Other recruiters which you may overlook in your search for job opportunities include government and the armed services. Whatever the sector, you could find yourself designing, manufacturing and looking after machinery across various purposes.

Nonetheless, your career progression could prove unpredictable. Consider that, if you become an incorporated or chartered engineer, you could become an engineering researcher or consultant. You might even choose to work abroad, where a British degree could hold you in good stead.

The opportunities could yet prove even less predictable than this. Consider the case of Alfred Hitchcock highlighted by Times Higher Education. Hitchcock studied mechanical engineering and later drew upon his knowledge of the subject to make special effects in his iconic films.

Another notable former student of mechanical engineering is American science educator Bill Nye, who became well-known for his 1990s TV series Bill Nye the Science Guy.

How might your working hours shape up?

While there is no entirely standard template for working hours as a mechanical engineer, they will typically number a weekly 37 to 40 hours. Projects and deadlines may require you to work longer hours. You may also have to work evenings and weekends if you are on a shift system.

However, your salary could start at £22,000 and rise to £55,000 as you become more experienced. While these figures are only a guide, they provide another good reason to consider persuing vacancies for mechanical engineering jobs.

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