Mechanical Engineering Technicians Overview
With varying economic conditions, the job market for a mechanical engineering technician is broken down by specialty. By completing an associates degree in mechanical engineering technology or some sort of postsecondary training, the job opportunities will be greater for those seeking positions in this field.
Nature of the Work for Mechanical Engineering Technicians
The nature of work for a mechanical engineering technician involves assisting engineers or scientists in efforts such as research and development or manufacturing. Using principles such as mathematics, science and engineering, mechanical engineering technicians solve problems in sales, construction, maintenance and inspection.
Mechanical engineering technicians involved in assisting with research development should expect to set up and build equipment, prepare and conduct experiments as well as collect, calculate, and record data. Since their work is usually specialized and application-oriented, mechanical engineering technicians can also be responsible for assisting with computer-aided design, drafting (CADD) equipment and making prototypes of designs.
For mechanical engineering technicians involved in manufacturing, they can expect to be assisting with efforts such as developing, designing and producing various products.
Since mechanical engineering technicians perform a specialized skill set, they also assist engineers by working with machinery, products, and other pieces of equipment to develop, test and help manufacture. Examples of such duties would be instrumentation set up for auto crash tests and sketching the layouts, recording and analyzing the data, making calculations and reporting their findings. Mechanical engineering technicians’ sketches and layouts help them to establish labor costs, plant space, and equipment life.
Most mechanical engineering technicians can expect to work 40 hours a week in an industrial plant, laboratory, office or outdoors. Though incidents are rare, mechanical engineering technicians can be exposed to harsh chemicals from equipment.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Mechanical Engineering Technicians
An associates degree in mechanical engineering technology or some postsecondary education is important as many employers may believe those who do not receive this education may require more training on the job. Those looking to become mechanical engineering technicians can obtain this degree and training at a community college, university extension, vocational-technical school or in the Armed Forces.
Those looking to work as mechanical engineering technicians should also take classes in math and science during high school to help prepare themselves for varying programs.
ABET, the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, accredits around 700 2-year associate degree programs in engineering technology specialties, requiring students to take algebra or trigonometry as well as a science class. Since programs vary, a mechanical engineering technician may take courses in thermodynamics, mechanical design, and fluid mechanics.
Those interested in working as mechanical engineering technicians who train at a technical school will be skilled in application and practice, more so than on theory and general education. Many technical schools offer a 2-year associate degree program, just like a community college or state university would.
Focused on principles such as liberal arts and theories, community colleges are similar to technical institutes when it comes to curriculum. The completion of a 2-year associate degree from a community college means mechanical engineering technicians usually begin looking for work or complete their 4-year program. Those enrolling in a 2-year program without completing a 4-year program may find it difficult to find work because a pre-engineering associates degree usually means less hands-on training.
Those participating in a 2-year engineering technology degree may also find it difficult to transfer courses for a 4-year program, if they decided to do so.
Engineering technician training is usually not offered at colleges offering 4-year programs, even though taking classes in engineering, mathematics and science are suggested for those looking for employment.
Technologists and applied engineers usually complete a bachelors program in engineering technology.
Vocational-technical schools offer local students training to work with local employers. A high school diploma or its equivalent is usually required.
The Armed Forces provides training to those seeking to work as mechanical engineering technicians. A narrowly focused yet highly regarded training program can be obtained but it is more difficult for engineering technicians to find work in the civilian industry without additional training.
Since mechanical engineering technicians can assist in design work, good communication skills, creativity and willingness to work in teams are important qualities to have as a mechanical engineering technician.
Mechanical engineering technicians usually begin their work experience under the supervision of a trained engineer, scientist or technologist. Once they have gained enough experience, they can be assigned harder tasks as well as be promoted to supervisory positions.
Employment and Job Outlook for Mechanical Engineering Technicians
Of all the jobs held, 497,300 jobs were held by engineering technicians, with 34 percent working in manufacturing and 25 percent working in scientific, professional and technical service industries such as working for manufacturing firms or governments.
For engineering technicians who worked for the government, 35,300 worked for the Federal Government while 31,300 worked for local governments.
Of the 497,300 engineering technician jobs held, 46,100 jobs were held by mechanical engineering technicians.
Though the expected job growth for engineering technicians is 5 percent, the growth for mechanical engineering jobs is expected to decrease by 1 percent in those same years. Thanks to increased foreign competition in design and manufacturing as well as efficient design and testing, the need for mechanical engineering technicians will decrease.
Along with foreign competition and efficient design and testing, other factors that affect job growth for mechanical engineering technicians are updated manufacturing facilities and the automation of many activities. Companies that are looking to increase globalization by relocating development operations overseas to reduce cost and speed up production can also affect job growth for engineering technicians. Even with development operations overseas, many companies still require on-site maintenance, which means that mechanical engineering technicians are needed in the US to perform different jobs and tasks.
Earnings and Salary for Mechanical Engineering Technicians
Median annual wages for mechanical engineering technicians are $48,970. The middle 50 percent earn between $38,650 and $60,990. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $31,630, and the highest 10 percent earn more than 73,450.