Mechanical engineering job description

Mechanical engineer job duties:

Mechanical engineers typically do some or all of the following:

- Conduct research into performance, feasibility, design and operation of components, systems and mechanisms
- Design tools, machines, plants, components, devices and equipment by using specific CAD (computer aided design) programs
- Manage projects and prepare estimated timing, costs and material for them
- Create first versions of devices they want and evaluate their dynamics, vibrations and overall functionality through different kinds of tests
- Inspect installation and modification of mechanical systems in industrial facilities or construction sites
- Develop standards for maintenance and provide guidance for maintenance teams
- Analyze characteristic failures and maintenance problems and make changes in design if it is necessary
- Keep an eye on process of creating the device
- Evaluate tenders for industrial constructions
- Supervise technicians and technologists in their work
- Review and approve designs, costs estimates and calculations made by colleagues

Occupational Titles - examples:

• acoustics engineer
• automotive engineer
• design engineer - mechanical
• energy conservation engineer
• engineer, power generation
• fluid mechanics engineer
• heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineer
• mechanical engineer
• mechanical maintenance engineer
• nuclear engineer
• piping engineer
• refrigeration engineer
• robotics engineer
• thermal design engineer
• tool engineer

Mechanical engineer career overview:

This is one of the most extensive disciplines in engineering today. Researching, designing, developing, creating and evaluating thermal and mechanical devices – those are areas for mechanical engineer jobs. Their duties are also installing, operating and maintenance of all mechanical systems. They are employed by power-generating utilities, by consulting firms, transportation, manufacturing and processing industries. They can also be self-employed.


Mechanical engineers typically do some or all of the following:
- Test the main characteristics of components, mechanisms and systems in order to see how do they perform
- Make schemes for plants, equipment, machines, components and tools with help of computer technology
- Calculate how much material, time and money should be spent for mechanical projects
- Make prototypes of devices and test their performance, vibrations and dynamics.
- Oversee the processes of installation and modification of mechanical systems
- Take care of maintenance: create standards for maintaining mechanical systems and supervise maintenance crew
- Evaluate problems related to device’s work and change design if it is needed
- Supervise the process of making the device
- Analyze tenders for constructions in industries
- Review the work of technicians and technologists
- Check out and approve calculations, cost estimates and design made by other employees

Mechanical engineers are responsible for many products, ranging from power-making to power-using devices. Steam and gas turbines, internal combustion engines, electric generators, refrigeration and air-conditioning systems are among those devices. Mechanical engineers are engaged in designing escalators and elevators, automated transfer stations, conveyor systems and many others.

Mechanical engineers use computer technology every day in their work, while integrate controllers, machinery and sensors. Computer technology helps them to simulate work of the mechanical system. This is the way to see if something is designed properly, how would it work and interact with other systems and what kind of results it would give in the end.

Mechanical engineer work environment:

There is a wide range of industries where mechanical engineers could be employed. According to National Household Survey data, those are industries that employed the most mechanical engineers in 2011:

Manufacturing sector 42%
Transportation equipment 16%
Machinery manufacturing 10%
Offices of engineers 27%
Trade 5%

Also in this mechanical engineering description, know that engineers often work in multidisciplinary environment and sometime they can even practice in areas of sale, marketing, science and management. Usually, the office is a workplace for mechanical engineers. In the case they must personally install or maintain device, they go to the work site. In most cases, mechanical engineers work together with technicians, civil, aerospace, electric and other engineers and architects.

Work schedules:

In 2011, the big majority of Canadian mechanical engineers worked full time. 97% of them worked 40 hours a week and 3% worked part time.

Mechanical engineer's education and training:

For this position, employers require a university degree in mechanical engineering. This kind of program includes mathematics, physical sciences, just as engineering and design courses. It is often the combination of theory and practice, because it is important for graduate to see how does real work look like. A master’s degree or doctorate in related engineering discipline may be required also.

In order to work in this occupation and use the title of “engineer”, one must have membership in the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ). A diploma of Collegial Studies (DEC) in mechanical engineering technology, naval architecture or aircraft design is also required. Sometimes, an attestation of collegial studies (AEC) is helpful, too. It is good to know that National Institute of Aeronautics at Collège Édouard – Montpetit is the only institution that offers a DEC in aircraft design. At the end, extensive, lifelong learning is necessary for this occupation.

Education :

Nearly 90 % of mechanical engineers are bachelors and about 10 % of them are post - secondary. Less than 1% of Canadian mechanical engineers are those with high school education or less.

According to the National Household Survey Data, holders of a Diploma of College Studies (DEC) have the best labor market status. Status of those who graduated with a DEC in aircraft construction is uncertain and varies greatly from year to year. According to forecasts, labour market statuses of those two categories will remain good in next years. Unfortunately, graduates of the Attestation of College Studies (AEC) in mechanical enineering technology have very high unemployment rate. There are also graduates in naval architecture, but this number is too small for analyzing labour market status.

Important qualities :

Mechanical engineers must have specific level of creativity (just as artists). It is necessary in order to make original schemes and develop devices properly.
Team work is essential here because mechanical engineers have to create together with aerospace, civil, electrical, chemical, industrial and other engineers, just as profesionals from many areas. They have to listen to other opinions and combine their experience and knowledge, so the result could be working and useful device.

Math is basic science for mechanical engineers. It is useful in mechanical engineer’s work because they need to be precize when designing and changing design. They often use trigonometry just as other parts of math while solving problems typicall for this occupation.

Mechanical skills have huge importance for mechanical engineers. They are using these concepts during the whole proccess of creating a new device.
Every time mechanical engineer has to change abstract scientific discoveries into a tool or machine that actually works and serves to humans, he relies on problem solving skills. This kind of skill is extremely important for mechanical engineers.

Licenses, certifications and registrations :

Only individuals with valid Professional Engineer license and educational requirements may work as mechanical engineers. It is necessary for all thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. It is allowed to others to work in the area of mechanical engineering, but they mustn’t use title “engineer” and their work must be under supervision of somebody who has valid Professional Engineer license. There are few provincial and territorial engineering associations that are responsible for granting licenses, keeping standards on high level and sanctioning unlicensed workers - Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), Ordre des ingénieurs du Quebec (OIQ) and Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC). Licensing by these associations is needed for an engineer to approve engineering drawings and reports. Also, it is required for an engineer to practice as a Professional Engineer.

After graduation from an accredited educational program engineers are allowed to register. It is necessary for them to have three or four years of supervised experience in engineering and to pass professional practice examination.


Obtaining a graduate degree is absolutely needed in two situations. First is related to looking for faculty position in higher education, second one is conducting research or making development programs. Even if a mechanical engineer doesn’t look for any of these, he or she may earn graduate degree in order to gain new knowledge and skills or improve existing ones.

Mechanical engineer salary

The highest median annual wage for mechanical engineers in 2015 was in Alberta. It reached about 107 000 dollars. The relatively low wages were in Manitoba and New Brunswick. The lowest annual salary was paid in Prince Edward Island. Mechanical engineers there were paid about 40 000 dollars annually.
In 2011, the big majority of Canadian mechanical engineers worked full time. 97% worked 40 hours a week and 3% of them worked part time.

Job outlook

During past few years number of mechanical engineers increased and it is expected to be even higher in coming years. Reason is expected growth in industries that employ mechanical engineers.

They can work in many industries and participating in many projects. Annul number of job openings in next five years for them will be about 2100 and Ontario will lead in this area. About 825 job openings will be related to expansion and replacement (due to retirement or death) will contribute with 1270 of them. It is expected of Canadian universities to bring about 3000 new mechanical engineers each year in next five years.

There is high possibility for future mechanical engineers to work in field of ecology. The popular areas will be re-manufacturing, creating modern, eco-friendly vehicles, using alternative energies, etc. It is expected that experience of mechanical engineers will be extremely helpful in fields of thermal energy and nanotechnology, too.

The highest number of mechanical engineers will work in architectural, engineering and related services industry, transportation equipment manufacturing industry, machinery manufacturing and oil and gas extraction. The provinces with highest number of employed mechanical engineers will be Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta.

According to forecast, the highest salary for Canadian mechanical engineers in next ten years will be in Alberta. The average expected annual payment in this province in
2020 is 127 300 $.The lowest will be in Prince Edward Island. According to forecast, expected median annual salary in this province for 2020 is 43 500.

Today, the average age of mechanical engineers in Canada is between 30 and 55 years. In British Columbia these engineers have average age of 46. In New Brunswick and Manitoba that number is lower - it is 44. Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Saskatchewan have in average younger mechanical engineers.

According to National Household Survey data, women held 9% of mechanical engineering jobs in 2011. It is expected of this number to increase in coming years because there are more women than before among new graduates in this field.

In next few years the average age of mechanical engineers in British Columbia will decline. It is expected for many of them to retire and new entrants to come. Fresh graduates will replace retired mechanical engineers. At the same time, the average age of mechanical engineers in Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador will increase, due to no higher rate of replacement.
In other provinces and territories the average age will stay stable.

According to National Household Survey Data, the number of immigrants in this occupation in 2011 was above average. It was 23%, while for other occupations it was 14%. It is expected that field of mechanical engineers will stay open for newcomers in coming years. Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec is already working on allowing foreigners to become members of this association before they arrive in Canada. This should make the process of application faster. Also, it will increase number of new comers in mechanical engineering area.

Job prospects

Prospects for mechanical engineers are very good. The business future will be even better for those who follow latest trends in this area of technology. It is very important for them to pay attention on all kinds of modern software tools. For example, these tools may help in avoiding the phase of process related to prototypes – in this case the scheme would lead directly to the real product. Following trends and continual education is a must for all students in this area, too. Courses of 3D printing will be especially valuated. Self-reliance, versatility, imaginative and good critical judgment skills and being multilingual will be appreciated more in the future.

For more information:

Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec
Réseau des ingénieurs Du Québec
Engineers Canada
Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering

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