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.
Mechanical engineering technicians typically do the following:
Some mechanical engineering technicians test and inspect machines and equipment or work with engineers to eliminate production problems. For example, they may assist in testing products by setting up instrumentation for vehicle crash tests.
Mechanical engineering technicians hold about 46,100 jobs. The largest employers of mechanical engineering technicians are as follows:
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||23%|
|Transportation equipment manufacturing||13|
|Computer and electronic product manufacturing||9|
|Scientific research and development services||7|
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.
Most mechanical engineering technicians work full time.
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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.
Mechanical engineering technicians typically need an associate's degree or a certificate from a community college or vocational–technical school. Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes but include more theory-based and liberal arts coursework and programs. Community colleges typically award an associate's degree. Vocational–technical schools include postsecondary public institutions that emphasize training needed by local employers. Students who complete these programs typically receive a diploma or certificate.
ABET accredits associate's degree programs in relevant fields of study, such as mechanical engineering technology.
Completing an associate's degree in mechanical engineering technology is good preparation for studying for a bachelor's degree.
High school students interested in becoming mechanical engineering technicians should take classes in math, science, and computer skills. Courses that help students develop skills working with their hands also are valuable because these technicians build what mechanical engineers design.
Communication skills. Mechanical engineering technicians must be able to clearly understand and follow instructions or ask their supervisors for clarification if they do not understand. They must be able to clearly explain, both orally and in writing, the need for changes in designs or test procedures.
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.
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.
The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) offers four levels of certification through its technician certification programs. Mechanical engineering technicians can obtain certification in industrial instrumentation by passing an examination. In addition, an engineering technician's supervisor must verify the competency of the candidate for certification.
The median annual wage for mechanical engineering technicians is $54,480. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,030, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,810.
The median annual wages for mechanical engineering technicians in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Scientific research and development services||$59,730|
|Computer and electronic product manufacturing||57,700|
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||56,090|
|Transportation equipment manufacturing||54,480|
Most mechanical engineering technicians work full time.
Employment of mechanical engineering technicians is projected to grow 5 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Firms may contract the work of mechanical engineering technicians from industries that provide engineering services, research and development, and consulting services. Contracting for this work allows firms to hire these services at a lower cost than employing in-house technicians.
Mechanical engineering technicians may find work as assistants to mechanical engineers and thus work in emerging fields, such as automation, three-dimensional printing, robotics, and alternative energies.
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, such as three-dimensional design software, should have the best job prospects.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2016||Projected Employment, 2026||Change, 2016-26|
|Mechanical engineering technicians||46,100||48,400||5||2,300|