Mechanical Device Technologist Careers: Job Description & Salary

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Learn about a mechanical device technologist's job description, salary and training requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a mechanical device technologist career.
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Pros and Cons of a Career As a Mechanical Device Technologist

Mechanical device technologists can either be classified as mechanical engineering technologists or technicians. Read on for pros and cons of these jobs to determine if this is the right career path for you.

PROS of a Career As a Mechanical Device Technologist
Low level of education required (an associate degree is typically sufficient)*
Above-average wages (annual median salary of about $54,000 for technicians in May 2014)*
Can work with a variety of equipment (commercial products, robotics, industrial machinery, etc.)*
Creativity is a valued asset in this field*

CONS of a Career As a Mechanical Device Technologist
Slower-than-average job growth (5% expected from 2012-2022)*
Some technologists work with hazardous materials*
The job can be highly stressful**
Additional requirements may be necessary for employment (years of experience, graduation from an accredited program, etc.)***

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net Online, ***Job Postings from 2012

Job Duties and Career Information

Mechanical device technologists or technicians work alongside engineers and help them with the design and development of products and machinery. These professionals prepare drawings and draft plans for constructing machinery and other kinds of industrial devices. They are also responsible for testing the function and construction of devices and recording the results for later use. In addition to these planning tasks, technologists also make estimates of labor costs, plant space and equipment life.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job opportunities for mechanical device technologists will grow very slowly between 2012 and 2022. Specifically, the BLS projects 5% growth for mechanical engineering technicians and technologists for that decade. The BLS notes that job growth in the field is highly dependent on the state of the manufacturing industry. Currently, that industry is in decline. In May 2014, mechanical engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of about $54,000, according to the BLS.

What Are the Requirements?

Most employers are looking for mechanical engineering technicians with experience in manufacturing or in a research lab. They should have a minimum of an associate degree in mechanical engineering or in an applied science field like physics. In addition to educational and professional training, technicians should also be creative, detail-oriented and able to communicate effectively. Companies also prefer technologists with sharp quantitative and technical skills. According to the BLS, a technologist typically holds a bachelor's degree.

Real Job Listings

Prospective employers of mechanical device technologists highly value both professional and mechanical experience as well as the ability to use lathes, drill presses and laboratory instrumentation systems. Drafting ability is also a skill that many employers seek. Below are jobs that were listed as being available in April of 2012:

  • A California company is seeking a manufacturing technologist with five years of experience in a research lab environment. The successful candidate should be able to operate machines to work on mechanical components, interpret drawings and operate basic laboratory instruments.
  • A Connecticut company is seeking a mechanical technologist with a minimum of an associate degree and at least ten years of experience in the field. The preferred candidate will have experience writing detailed instructions and using a number of different types of materials,such as epoxy and graphite.
  • A corporation is looking for a mechanical device technologist for their Indiana location. This technologist will work in research and testing and will also help develop project proposals. The successful candidate will hold an associate degree and at least a decade of work experience.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Employers in this field typically prefer experience in the field or the completion of an educational program. In order to stand out, you could complete a program accredited by ABET, Inc. (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology). In order to work as a technologist, the BLS states that employers typically prefer that you hold a bachelor's degree.

Alternative Careers

If you decide that a career as a mechanical device technologist is not a great fit for you, there are some other occupations you may want to explore. These jobs require similar skill sets, but offer different work opportunities and job descriptions.

Environmental Engineering Technician

Environmental engineering technicians interpret and execute plans that are developed by environmental engineers. These technicians also collect samples and conduct tests and research. The BLS projects a 24% increase in environmental engineering technician jobs between 2010 and 2020. The agency also reports that these technicians earn a median annual salary of about $43,000.

Industrial Engineering Technician

Industrial engineering technicians help develop ways to use machines, personnel and materials in factories, stores and manufacturing plants. They assist industrial engineers, lay out equipment and prepare machines for installation and use. The BLS determined that industrial engineering technicians earn a median annual salary of $48,000. The agency also projects a 4% increase in job opportunities for industrial engineering technicians between 2010 and 2020.

Drafter

Drafters convert engineering plans into drawings and blueprints using digital software. Drafters are an essential part of most construction and manufacturing processes. The BLS projects that job opportunities for drafters will increase by 6% between 2010 and 2020. Additionally, the BLS determined that drafters earn a median annual salary of $48,000.

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