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Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineers research, design and evaluate machines, devices, equipment, systems and processes, and plan and oversee their development, installation, operation and maintenance.

Also Known As:Design Engineer, Engineer, Professional Engineer
NOC Number(s):2132
Minimum Education:4 years post-secondary education/training
Employment Outlook:Job openings generated due to employment turnover. Occupational outlook currently unavailable.
Interests:I O D

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Mechanical Engineer


Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Related Legislation | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study

Duties

Mechanical engineers work on a wide variety of mechanical systems including:

  • industrial systems and processing (for example, in refineries, petrochemical facilities, mines)
  • manufacturing systems, plants and products
  • environmental control systems (heating, ventilating and air conditioning)
  • transportation equipment (land, sea, air, space)
  • utility systems and infrastructure delivering water, gas, oil and power
  • emerging fields such as robotics, biomedical engineering, commercial space travel, lasers, nanotechnology, telecommunications and computer components and systems.

There are many different specializations in mechanical engineering. The following illustrate some of the possibilities:

Design engineers create the plans for new products, machines, industrial equipment, instruments, processes and systems and provide technical support for changes to existing ones.

Development engineers analyze proposed products or processes, test them out and attempt to improve them.

Manufacturing engineers plan, develop and research the tools, processes, machines and equipment needed to produce quality products economically (for more information, see the Manufacturing Engineer occupational profile).

Sales engineers are involved in technical sales and service (for more information, see the Technical Sales Representative profile).

Research engineers investigate and develop new materials, processes, engineering tools and phenomena that may enable the creation of new products, systems and applications.


Working Conditions

Mechanical engineers may work in office, laboratory, shop or field environments. Field work is required to review site conditions and inspect the construction of designs. Mechanical engineers also may work in research and development laboratories, or the production departments of factories where they supervise the testing and manufacture of products.


Personal Characteristics

Mechanical engineers need the following characteristics:

  • the ability to think in mathematical and abstract terms
  • the ability to visualize three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional drawings
  • a practical, mechanical inclination
  • an interest in technical processes
  • persistence and determination
  • well developed oral and written communication skills
  • good interpersonal skills and the ability to work as part of a team.

They should enjoy being innovative, doing work that requires precision, making decisions and supervising others.


Educational Requirements

The minimum education requirement for mechanical engineers is a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.

In Alberta, the Faculties of Engineering at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and the University of Calgary offer four year bachelor degree programs in mechanical engineering. Both institutions also offer a co-operative education or internship program consisting of periods of academic study alternating with periods of planned work experience in industry. Co-operative or internship engineering degree programs usually require five years to complete.

The admission requirement for engineering programs at both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary is a competitive average in the following subjects:

  • English Language Arts 30-1
  • Pure Math 30
  • Chemistry 30
  • Math 31
  • Physics 30.

Post-secondary institutions throughout the province offer university transfer programs that allow students to apply up to two years of study toward university bachelor's degree programs. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the courses they choose to take will be accepted for credit at the institution to which they wish to transfer.

For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.

Mechanical engineers must be prepared to adapt to dramatic changes in skill requirements throughout their careers.


Related Legislation

Under Alberta's Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act, you must be a registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a Professional Engineer. You do not have to be registered if you work under the direct supervision of a Professional Engineer and do not call yourself a Professional Engineer or use the word Engineer in your job title.

To find more information on the certification process see Chemical Engineer Licensing Process, Civil Engineer Licensing Process, Electrical Engineer Accreditation Process, Mechanical Engineer Licensing Process and Petroleum Engineer Licensing Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Section revised June 2013

Employment and Advancement

Mechanical engineers may be employed in a wide variety of industries, including:

  • natural resources (forestry, agriculture, oil and gas, mining)
  • energy conversion (thermal and hydroelectric power stations, solar, wind and biofuels)
  • processing (petrochemical refining, food and beverage production)
  • manufacturing (vehicles, appliances, furnishings, telecommunication equipment)
  • construction (mechanical systems such as elevators or air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems)
  • transportation (road, rail, air, marine, space vehicles and systems)
  • utility systems (water, natural gas, electricity).

Experienced engineers may advance to administrative or management positions, or become self-employed consultants. Those who have graduate degrees may teach at the post-secondary level or conduct research.

In Alberta, 81 per cent of people employed as mechanical engineers work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Section revised November 2013

Salary

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Mechanical Engineers occupational group earned on average from $35.66 to $58.62 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $47.60 an hour.

For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo.

Section revised March 2012

Other Sources of Information

Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)

EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website: www.apegga.org

Society of Mechanical Engineers website: www.sme.org


Related Occupational Profiles
Aerospace Engineer
Agricultural Engineer
Biomedical Engineer
Construction Estimator
Engineering Physicist
Forensic Laboratory Analyst
Mechanical Design Technologist
Mechanical Engineering Technologist
Technical Sales Representative

Related High School Subjects
English Language Arts; Mathematics; Media, Design and Communication Arts (Design Studies); Natural Resources (Environmental Stewardship); and Science (Chemistry; and Physics)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies

Produced November 2009
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For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at alis.alberta.ca, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.


Government of Alberta, Human Services