Mechanical Engineering Technician Careers: Salary & Job Description

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Mechanical engineering technicians earn an average salary of about $55,000. Is it worth the training and education requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about the career outlook to find out if becoming a mechanical engineering technician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Mechanical Engineering Technician

Mechanical engineering technicians assist engineers in designing, developing and testing consumer products, industrial machinery and various other types of manufactured equipment. Check out the pros and cons of becoming a mechanical engineering technician to see if it might be right for you.

Pros of Becoming a Mechanical Engineering Technician
Technical training or an associate's degree sufficient for entry-level positions*
Nearly all positions are full-time and offer standard, 40-hour work weeks*
Ability to work in research labs, testing facilities and manufacturing plants*
Variety of duties (preparing drawings, running tests, estimating costs)*

Cons of Becoming a Mechanical Engineering Technician
Average salary only slightly higher than national average (annual income of about $55,000)*
Slow job growth (expected five percent employment increase between 2012 and 2022)*
Could be exposed to hazards from equipment or machines*
Reduced job security due to companies opting to contract technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Combining their knowledge of engineering principles, mathematics and science, mechanical engineering technicians assist engineers with solving problems in manufacturing, research, construction, sales and maintenance. They also play an important role in designing, developing, testing and inspecting the products that are produced by the company they work for. Other duties may include preparing rough drawings and sketches of parts required for the assembly process.

Some mechanical engineering technicians help with determining available plant space, life expectancy of equipment and labor costs. These technicians fix problems that occur in the production process. Mechanical engineering technicians use CAD software and drafting principles to create designs that meet specifications determined by the engineers. You could also be responsible for recording test results and analyzing those results to suggest product improvements.

Salary and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that mechanical engineering technicians earned a mean annual wage of around $55,000 in 2014. Architectural, engineering and related services had the highest levels of employment for mechanical engineering technicians. The states with the highest number of mechanical engineering technicians were Texas, California and Michigan. The BLS projected that mechanical engineering technicians would see a five percent increase in job opportunities from 2012-2022, which was slower than the average of all occupations, with the best opportunities for mechanical engineering technicians found in industries including remanufacturing, automation and alternative energy.

What Are the Requirements?

What Employers Are Looking for

When hiring mechanical engineering technicians, employers typically look for candidates who have completed formal training programs, such as an associate's degree program in mechanical engineering technology. High school students who know they want careers in mechanical engineering should take as many math and science courses as possible to prepare them for postsecondary training in engineering technology. Potential employers also want people who have experience in occupations with job requirements that are similar to those of mechanical engineering technicians.

Education Requirements

Although aspiring mechanical engineering technicians may be hired and trained on the job, they usually have better employment opportunities when they've completed formal training. Mechanical engineering technicians can obtain the necessary education through technical training programs or associate's degree programs. Some of the courses you might take in a mechanical engineering technology program include thermodynamics, technical drafting and materials science.

Job Postings from Real Employers

While the following examples do not give a complete picture of all the jobs that are available to mechanical engineering technicians, you can get a general idea of what employers are looking for. Here are some job posts for mechanical engineering technicians in March 2012:

  • An electronics company in Massachusetts is seeking a mechanical engineering technician to assist in the design and modification of electromechanical and pneumatic assemblies. Responsibilities could include documenting assembly data, training personnel and assisting with all production issues. Candidates should have an associate's degree in mechanical engineering and knowledge of engineering tools and office software. This position requires the individual to have good troubleshooting and communication skills.
  • An automotive parts manufacturer in Ohio is seeking an experienced electro-mechanical technician to work in the brazing department. The ideal candidate has at least three years experience with pneumatics and hydraulics and has skills in electrical control troubleshooting. Communication, math, mechanical and computer skills are preferred.
  • A healthcare services company is looking for a mechanical engineering technician to work in its Utah facility. Candidate must have a 2- or 4-year engineering technician degree or equivalent work experience. Applicants should have good communication skills, ability to read and write technical documents and have knowledge of 2-D drawing and 3-D solid modeling.

How to Maximize Your Skills

While pursuing postsecondary education and obtaining work experience are important steps to becoming a mechanical engineering technician, there are additional actions you can take to give your resume a boost and make yourself more competitive in the job market. Keeping up with changes in technology can give you an edge over equally-qualified applicants. Some certifications may require more than two years of education, so continuing to take courses or pursuing a bachelor's degree could be beneficial, depending on the industry you work in.

Get Certified

Obtaining certification may be voluntary, but it demonstrates your knowledge of and commitment to your profession. Eligible applicants can usually obtain certification by passing a written exam and meeting education requirements. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers offers the Certified Manufacturing Technologist certification exam. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies offers several certifications for engineering technicians and technologists. Since mechanical engineering technicians are needed in a variety of industries, it might be a good idea to figure out which industry you want to work in before looking into certification options.

Alternative Career Paths

Civil Engineering Technician

If you want a career with similar education requirements but you're not excited about mechanical engineering, then perhaps you should look into becoming a civil engineering technician. This career might be right for you if you'd like to play a part in building bridges, highways and buildings and other structures. As of May 2011, the BLS reported that civil engineering technicians earned a mean annual wage of about $48,000. While the wage is slightly less than what mechanical engineering technicians earned in 2011, this career offers a more favorable employment outlook than mechanical engineering technician careers. The BLS predicted that civil engineering technicians would see an employment growth of 12% between 2010 and 2020.

Environmental Engineering Technician

If you're looking to work in an engineering field while finding ways to prevent harm to the environment, then you should look into becoming an environmental engineering technician. Environmental engineering technicians assist environmental engineers in developing ways to prevent or control environmental hazards. The BLS found that environmental engineering technicians earned a mean annual wage of almost $49,000 in 2011. If you pursue this career path, you'll likely have some of the best job prospects out of all engineering technicians. According to the BLS, employment for these workers was projected to grow 24% between 2010 and 2020, which was faster than the average for all occupations.

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