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Mechanical engineer

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Summary of occupation

Mechanical engineers design, develop and make tools, machines and other mechanical devices. They are involved in this process from the initial design right through to the manufacture and installation of the final product. Mechanical engineers can work on a variety of projects, from designing mechanical hearts used in the medical industry, to car engines, through to designing and improving the production processes at mine sites. When designing machines they must take into account the cost to build and run a finished design, availability of materials and strength and maintenance requirements. To ensure the necessary standards are met they must regularly test designs, which can involve building a working prototype, and making necessary adjustments based on its performance.

ANZSCO description: Plans, designs, organises and oversees the assembly, erection, operation and maintenance of mechanical and process plant and installations. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Airconditioning Engineer, Heating and Ventilation Engineer
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A mechanical engineer needs:

  • an interest in the practical application of science and engineering
  • good problem solving skills
  • to be practical and creative
  • good communication skills
  • to be curious about how things work and how to improve them
  • to be able to work as part of a team.
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Working conditions

Mechanical engineers may work in an office, workshop, factory or on a building site. They generally work regular business hours and often work in a team environment, with professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds, depending on the specific project. For example, a mechanical engineer designing the valves used in a mechanical heart might consult closely with biomedical engineers, doctors and surgeons, while one designing a gold processing plant, would work with mining engineers and metallurgists. Travel to meet with clients and/or view work sites may also be required.

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Salary details

On average, mechanical engineers can expect to earn between $1,538 and $2,307 per week ($80,000 and $120,000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience.  

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Tools and technologies

Mechanical engineers use computers, including Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) technologies, to assist in the designing, testing and building of machines. They may also use a range of hand and power tools and equipment to test aspects such as energy consumption and strength. Depending on their work environment, mechanical engineers may be required to wear safety equipment, including hard hats, overalls, safety glasses and hearing protection.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a mechanical engineer, you usually need to study a degree in engineering, majoring in mechanical engineering. You may need to complete further postgraduate study to specialise in mechanical engineering. 

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Learn more about your study options.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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