The thought of working in teams during your academic career can be intimidating and frustrating.
As a mechanical engineer or a soon-to-be mechanical engineer, you may wonder if you should expect the same experience in your career.
As working in groups is only one aspect of a workplace experience, you also be curious about other factors that play into the overall job satisfaction of a mechanical engineer.
In this short guide, you will find out key details about a mechanical engineer job that can influence the way you view your career and your life.
Mechanical engineers work alone and in groups, but it may not be in the way that you think!
In most cases, mechanical engineers are one part of a larger team. They have responsibilities closely tied to their specialization.
For instance, they may work in research and development, design, or testing and optimization.
They may take direction and tasks from their manager on a particular project, performing those tasks by themselves.
However, when they finish their section of the project, they will give it to the development team to build and test.
The design may come back with parts or features that the mechanical engineer needs to optimize and fix, or it may move on to another part of the team effort.
Further, significant parts of the team may include other types of mechanical engineers or people from other departments in the company.
As a mechanical engineer, you may enter into a workplace scenario exactly like this, performing solo work and collaborating with your team.
A group in mechanical engineering is a team dedicated to designing, developing, and launching a project.
The group may have many different individuals performing different tasks to finish the project.
There may also be different mechanical engineers on the team, including research and development engineers, material engineers, design engineers, and test engineers.
A specific group may have different development stages and individuals involved depending on the project itself and the industry.
The stages are:
- Researching and collecting relevant data
- Designing the product
- Planning production
- Building the product
- Testing the product for performance
- Testing the product for safety
- Optimizing the product if necessary
- Repairing or maintaining the product
- Finishing the project and preparing for its launch
Mechanical engineering is a highly difficult field of study, however, the actual work is not stressful.
When you have expertise in your field, you can perform your responsibilities well with little to no stress.
However, sometimes companies or organizations are not perfect fits for certain engineers.
Management, peers, and workplace dynamics can all contribute to a stressful workplace environment.
When a project does not have clearly defined goals, structure, appropriate timeframes for work, or management of individual workload, then mechanical engineering projects are highly stressful.
It causes misunderstandings, conflicts, regular revisions, tight schedules, and overtime hours.
That said, companies can also foster the opposite dynamic which is favorable to their employees and the final products.
In workplaces with organization, communication, and clearly defined expectations, mechanical engineering responsibilities do not need to be stressful.
The best group in mechanical engineering depends on your goals, your passions, and your skills.
You may enjoy:
- Design if you gravitate towards creativity and logic, comprehend complex drawings, and understand how to use design software. These mechanical engineers have work opportunities in tech companies, too.
- Production Planning if you are great at planning, delegating, and producing reports for corporate.
- Production or Development if you like carrying out hands-on work and seeing projects come to life.
- Quality if you enjoy testing, inspecting, and finding small inconsistencies.
- Maintenance and Repair if you like to make sure parts, devices, and machines are in tip-top shape and realize the importance of this job in every industry.
- Optimization if you enjoy reading test results and making products better than before.
- Marketing if you are great at reading data, problem-solving, and creativity.
- Management if you have excellent interpersonal and communication skills, impeccable organization, and an understanding of all mechanical engineering departments.
According to a survey, 34% of contract mechanical engineers are very satisfied and 25% of full-time mechanical engineers are very satisfied with their work.
However, most mechanical engineers are somewhat satisfied pulling 43% and 38% respectively.
Mechanical engineers report higher job satisfaction when there is better communication, transparency about expectations and performance, reliable peers, growth opportunities, and compensation.
Mechanical engineering may be a step ahead of other careers due to the high number of job opportunities and excellent salaries.
However, companies hiring mechanical engineers have different work environments.
As such, you should find out as much as you can before your interview or hiring process.
Make sure it is a good fit for you and it reflects what you are looking for in a career; your happiness depends on it.
Mechanical engineering is a great career choice, especially if you have a curiosity about how things work or a passion for building new and dynamic products.
Most mechanical engineering jobs offer numerous advantages such as:
- More than 20,000 job opportunities per year
- A growing industry, projecting 7% growth until 2030
- Job positions in nearly every industry
- Numerous specializations
- An average salary of $95,300 per year
- Excellent benefits packages including health insurance paid sick leave, paid vacation time, and retirement benefits
- Possibility of working flexible hours
- Career advancement opportunities
- Chance to work on the technology of the future
Learn more: Do Mechanical Engineers Work Inside Or Outside?
A mechanical engineering degree is one of the most difficult engineering degrees.
Typically, students may struggle with the heavy workload of math and science courses which include calculus, differential equations, algebra, chemistry, and physics.
They may also have trouble with technical, and mechanical engineering courses as they are relatively intensive.
Professors expect you to complete a large amount of work in a short amount of time, which may make your academic degree harder and more frustrating.
However, if you are excellent at math or logic, or you are willing to learn, you will likely make it through your courses successfully.
Likewise, you may find lots of helpful resources in college and university to make your coursework easier.
After reading this guide, you now have a thorough understanding of what aspects of a mechanical engineering job can impact your overall job satisfaction.
The outlook for general mechanical engineering jobs is satisfactory.
However, if you truly want to work at a company you enjoy, you should research those aspects of the organization before becoming part of the team!
Your future self will thank you!