Our guide to mechanical engineering
Jane McGuire

Our guide to mechanical engineering

Our guide to mechanical engineering

Published March 07 2016

What is mechanical engineering? Put simply, it’s the design and manufacture of mechanical systems (or put even more simply, anything with an engine). This can range from the smallest component in a set of scales to extremely large operating system for a plane. One of the oldest and most diverse forms of engineering, nearly every industry will rely on a form of mechanical engineering at some point.

The chances are, if you are reading this you already know a little about the subject and are ready to find your perfect course. If not, we’ve tried to summarise the key pointers in one handy guide to get you moving in the right direction.


So what does a mechanical engineer actually do?

Mechanical engineers are primarily in charge of designing and making machinery. These machines can mainly be divided into two categories – power producing, such as electrical generators and steam turbines, or power using, for example refrigerators and air conditioning systems. We use mechanically engineered products every single day, from the car you drove to work in, to the heating system in your office.

As a mechanical engineer, you’ll be involved in all stages of the production process, so will need adaptable skills. Your job begins at the initial design stage and ends at the eventual installation of the machinery. One of the most rewarding parts of the job is watching your sketches come to life and become the tools and machines that shape our 21st century world.


What are the job opportunities for me, as a mechanical engineer?

Mechanical engineering is said to be one of the broadest forms of engineering to study, with a number of transferrable skills. Because of this, mechanical engineers work across a number of different industries. Don’t believe us? Have a look at these options –


Aerospace – with the right course, you’ll have the skills to be involved in the design, manufacture and maintenance of all kinds of aircrafts


Automotive – think Rolls Royce, Land Rover and Formula One. Some mechanical engineering graduates go into automotive engineering and work on the design of some of the world’s best engines.


Construction – working on buildings and infrastructure, as well as the heating and ventilation systems that make buildings liveable.


Defence – designing equipment and providing support for the army and national defence systems.


Materials and metal – working in this industry involves the development of new materials and manufacturing components with them.


Rail – maintaining and designing rail systems all over the world – from the train tracks to the electrical power systems that allow them to run.

In all of these industries, you can use your skills to gain work as a designer, contractor or consultant.


Why do I need to go on a course then?

There are many different routes into the mechanical engineering industry and this doesn’t always involve going to university and getting a degree. With diplomas and apprenticeships available, offering work-based training, your options really are endless.

With a number of different courses listed on the site, there is not one set of modules for you to look at. Some courses will specialise in key skills, such as refrigeration or air conditioning, others will be far longer and give you a more in-depth look at all aspects of mechanical engineering. These courses will usually include modules on operating machinery, CNC machining and bench fitting.


Fun facts

As always, before we send you off on your perfect course, we try and leave you with some fun facts.

- The mechanical engineering sector employs nearly 275,000 skilled professionals.

- Currently, 30% of the industry employees have trained as apprentices.

- The Ferris wheel is considered to be one of the greatest engineering wonders in the world, created in 1893. 

Similar Subjects

Special offers

Underwater Marine Acoustics

Next start: 23rd Apr 2018

Price: £1,800.00 £1,620.00

Where: Okehampton

Get to grips with underwater acoustics and understand the issues that impact marine wildlife. This four-day course will give you the...

Underwater Acoustics Industry & Def...

Next start: 23rd Apr 2018

Price: £2,100.00 £1,890.00

Where: Okehampton

This intensive five-day course is ideal for engineers and scientists working in the oil, gas or defence industries who want to acquire a...