Mechanical Engineering Technicians

Summary

mechanical engineering technicians image
Mechanical engineering technicians help mechanical engineers design, develop, and test industrial machinery.
Quick Facts: Mechanical Engineering Technicians
2012 Median Pay $51,980 per year
$24.99 per hour
Entry-Level Education Associate’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 47,500
Job Outlook, 2012-22 5% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 2,200

What Mechanical Engineering Technicians Do

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.

Work Environment

Mechanical engineering technicians assist with manufacturing processes in factories, or with development phases in research and development labs before manufacturing takes place.

How to Become a Mechanical Engineering Technician

Most employers prefer to hire someone with an associate’s degree 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.

Pay

The median annual wage for mechanical engineering technicians was $51,980 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of mechanical engineering technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Nevertheless, there should be opportunities for those who can master new software and technology, as well as traditional manual skills.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of mechanical engineering technicians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about mechanical engineering technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Mechanical Engineering Technicians Do

Mechanical engineering technicians
Mechanical engineering technicians plan the assembly process to be used in industrial settings.

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.

Duties

Mechanical engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Evaluate design drawings for new or changed tools by measuring dimensions on the drawings and comparing them with the original specifications
  • Prepare layouts and drawings of parts to be made and of the process for putting them together
  • Discuss changes with coworkers—for example, in the design of the part, in the way it will be made and put together, and in the techniques and process they will use
  • Review instructions and blueprints for the project to ensure the test specifications and procedures are followed and objectives are met
  • Plan, produce, and assemble new or changed mechanical parts for products, such as industrial machinery or equipment
  • Set up and conduct tests of complete units and of parts as they would actually be used, as a way to investigate proposals for improving equipment performance
  • Record test procedures and results, numerical and graphical data, and recommendations for changes in products or test methods
  • Compare test results to design specifications and test objectives

Mechanical engineering technicians also estimate labor costs, equipment life, and plant space. Some test and inspect machines and equipment or work with engineers to eliminate production problems. They may assist in testing products by, for example, setting up instrumentation for vehicle crash tests.

Work Environment

Mechanical engineering technicians
Because mechanical engineering technicians work with machines of all types, they must take safety precautions in their workspace.

Mechanical engineering technicians held about 47,500 jobs in 2012. They work closely with mechanical engineers and are employed primarily in traditional manufacturing settings and in research and development laboratories.

The industries employing the most mechanical engineering technicians in 2012 were as follows:

Engineering services19%
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences7
Motor vehicle parts manufacturing6
Testing laboratories5
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and
control instruments manufacturing
5

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.

Work Schedules

Most mechanical engineering technicians work full time.

How to Become a Mechanical Engineering Technician

Mechanical engineering technicians
Mechanical engineering technicians help mechanical engineers manufacture industrial machinery and other equipment.

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.

Education

Prospective mechanical engineering technicians usually take courses in fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and mechanical design in a program leading to an associate’s degree. ABET accredits programs that include at least college algebra, trigonometry, and basic science courses. Associate’s degree programs are found in the following types of institutions:

  • Vocational–technical schools, which include postsecondary public institutions that serve local students and emphasize training needed by local employers
  • Community colleges, which offer programs similar to those in technical institutes but include more theory-based and liberal arts coursework

Completing an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering technology opens the way to studying for a bachelor’s degree.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Mechanical engineering technicians must be able to clearly understand and follow instructions or, if they do not understand, ask their supervisors to explain. They must be able to clearly explain the need for changes in designs or test procedures both verbally and in writing.

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.

Interpersonal skills. Mechanical engineering technicians must be able to take instructions and offer advice when it is needed.

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.

Pay

Mechanical Engineering Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2012

Engineering technicians, except drafters

$53,920

Mechanical engineering technicians

$51,980

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for mechanical engineering technicians was $51,980 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half of the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,370, and the top 10 percent earned more than $76,660.

In May 2012, the median annual wages in the top five industries in which these technicians worked were as follows:

Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and
control instruments manufacturing
$54,030
Research and development in the physical,
engineering, and life sciences
53,230
Engineering services51,920
Motor vehicle parts manufacturing51,610
Testing laboratories48,290

Most mechanical engineering technicians work full time.

Job Outlook

Mechanical Engineering Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations

11%

Mechanical engineering technicians

5%

Engineering technicians, except drafters

1%

 

Employment of mechanical engineering technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment in this occupation depends on the overall state of manufacturing.

Mechanical engineering technicians also work for firms in engineering services and in research and development, both of which provide contract services to manufacturing and other industries. Contracting for this work allows firms to hire these services at a lower cost than employing in-house technicians. Employment growth of mechanical engineering technicians will vary by industry.

Mechanical engineering technicians will find work in emerging fields, such as automation, remanufacturing, 3-D printing, and alternative energies.

Job Prospects

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 should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for Mechanical Engineering Technicians, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Mechanical engineering technicians

17-3027 47,500 49,700 5 2,200 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of mechanical engineering technicians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Drafters

Drafters

Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings and plans. Workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Associate’s degree $49,630
Environmental engineering technicians

Environmental Engineering Technicians

Environmental engineering technicians carry out the plans that environmental engineers develop. They test, operate, and, if necessary, modify equipment used to prevent or clean up environmental pollution. They may collect samples for testing, or they may work to mitigate sources of environmental pollution.

Associate’s degree $45,350
Industrial engineering technicians

Industrial Engineering Technicians

Industrial engineering technicians help industrial engineers implement designs to effectively use personnel, materials, and machines in factories, stores, healthcare organizations, repair shops, and offices. They prepare machinery and equipment layouts, plan workflows, conduct statistical production studies, and analyze production costs.

Associate’s degree $50,980
Machinists and tool and die makers

Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically-controlled machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,910
Semiconductor processors

Semiconductor Processors

Semiconductor processors oversee the manufacturing of semiconductor devices, which are commonly known as integrated circuits or microchips. These microchips are found in all electronic devices—including cell phones, cars, and laptops—and are an important part of modern life.

Associate’s degree $33,020
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Mechanical Engineering Technicians,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/mechanical-engineering-technicians.htm (visited October 22, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014