Becoming a Mechanical Technologist: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a mechanical technologist's career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if this could be the right career for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career As a Mechanical Technologist

Mechanical technologists conduct tests on equipment in order to make any necessary improvements. Read the following pros and cons to determine if this career is right for you.

PROS of Becoming a Mechanical Technologist
Many jobs pay better than average ($39,000-$85,000 for July 2015)***
Advanced degree may not be required*
Work may be available in many industries*
Increased job prospects for those employed in alternative energy*

CONS of Becoming a Mechanical Technologist
Slower-than-average job growth due to the decline of some industries*
Exposure to harmful chemicals and equipment*
Technologists working as independent contractors may be paid less*
Must pass significant math, science and engineering coursework*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **USA Jobs, ***Payscale.com

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Mechanical technologists work alongside mechanical engineers to create machinery, products and equipment. They often assemble systems, inspect equipment, prepare sketches and study test results. A technologist might also help with simulations, assist with labor costs and design plant space as well. Job can be found both in manufacturing settings and in research and development laboratories.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

In July 2015, PayScale.com reported that most mechanical engineering technologists earned $39,184-$84,951, including bonuses. Pay varied depending on factors such as experience and the industry in which an individual was employed. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cited that the related profession of mechanical engineering technicians would experience just a five percent job growth from 2012-2022, due to a decline in the manufacturing industry. Emerging industries that offer re-manufacturing and alternative energy production may provide more abundant opportunities.

What Are the Requirements?

Positions for mechanical technologists can be had with either an associate's or bachelor's degree. Possible majors include mechanical technology, mechanical engineering technology or a related field. Coursework specific to mechanical engineering technology may focus on product design, methods of manufacturing, dynamics and heat transfer. More general coursework may include computer aided drafting, pre-calculus, chemistry, engineering economics, technical physics, material mechanics and statistical quality control. Any prospective program should be accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc., formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

What Employers Are Looking For?

Employers may prefer applicants who have experience with certain systems and components. Some employers may consider applicants with experience in a research laboratory environment. The following are examples of job postings that were listed during April 2012:

  • A company in California advertised for a mechanical/electromechanical technologist with hands-on experience with complex mechanical components and systems. This position requires the minimum of a two-year degree or five years' experience.
  • An Atlanta, Georgia, company is seeking a candidate for a long-term position with minimal direction. This position requires analyzing and repairing mechanical and electrical systems. A minimum of 2-5 years of relevant work experience is required.
  • An institution in Washington, D.C., advertised for a mechanical engineering technician to install, test and troubleshoot major integrated mechanical and electrical systems. This position requires coordination with other projects or groups. Relevant experience is required.

How to Stand Out in the Field

There are certain qualities that employers may be looking for when hiring a mechanical technologist. Technologists should be able to follow directions since they will be creating sketches and layouts based on the instructions from mechanical engineers. Employers may request applicants who have an eye for detail since technologists must take accurate measurements and be well-organized.

Alternate Career Paths

Mechanical Drafter

If you would rather work on the drafting end of machine technology, you might consider becoming a mechanical drafter. These individuals create technical drawings and plans using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software. In order to become a drafter, individuals should have either an associate's or bachelor's degree in drafting technology, depending on the employer and the specialization. The BLS reports that employment opportunities for mechanical drafters were expected to increase 11% from 2010-2020. In May 2011, the BLS indicated that the median annual salary for these professionals was $49,000.

Industrial Engineering Technologist

If you would rather work with human factors and production efficiency, you might consider becoming an industrial engineering technician. These professionals ensure that resources, such as personnel, materials and machines in factories, are being utilized in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Industrial engineering technologists also illustrate workflow, material use and the layout of the floor. Individuals interested in this career should have either a certificate or Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Engineering Technology. Associate's degree programs may teach students about expository writing, industrial safety, technical accounting and economics. In 2012, the Occupational Information Network (O*Net Online) reported that industrial engineering technologists earned a median annual salary of $59,000.

Electrical Engineering Technologist

If you would rather work with electricity, you might consider becoming an electrical engineering technologist. These professionals may focus on electro-mechanics, computer-integrated manufacturing and industrial maintenance. The job duties of an electrical engineering technologist consist of reading blueprints and schematics in order to assemble machines and equipment, repair machinery and using soldering equipment to install hardware. In 2012, O*Net Online indicated that electrical engineering technologists earned a median annual wage of $59,000.

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