Important Job Skills for Mechanical Engineers

Engineers inspecting complex metal component in factory
••• Monty Rakusen / Getty Images

career in mechanical engineering is both highly lucrative and altruistically rewarding. Engineers must have a good education and training. Therefore, a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering (or mechanical engineering technology) is required. Many mechanical engineers also have a master’s degree or higher (such as a Ph.D.) in mechanical engineering. Certain jobs in mechanical engineering also require a license.

What Are Mechanical Engineer Skills?

Mechanical engineers design, build, and test mechanical devices such as tools, engines, and machines. Considered the broadest engineering discipline, mechanical engineers work in engineering services, research facilities, manufacturing industries, and the federal government. 

A mechanical engineer should have particular hard skills, including a strong understanding of industry standards and excellent computer skills, because much time is spent designing, simulating, and testing. In addition, mechanical engineers should have soft skills, such as strong analytical thinking and communication capabilities. 

What Kind of Skills Do You Need to be a Mechanical Engineer?

Problem Solving

A big part of a mechanical engineer’s job is solving problems using mechanical or thermal devices. Mechanical engineers need to be strong analytical thinkers who are capable of solving problems brought to them by clients or employers.

  • Analytical Thinking
  • Analyze Test Results and Adjust Design if Needed
  • Develop and Test Prototypes
  • Design Mechanical Device Projects
  • Detail Oriented
  • Develop Design Calculations
  • Ensure Designs Meet Legal Guidelines and Safety Requirements
  • Identify Potential Design Improvements
  • Knowledgeable of Machining and Fabrication Process
  • Perform Equipment and System Calculations
  • Product Validation Experience
  • Provide Cost Estimates for Materials, Equipment, and/or Labor
  • Research Materials for Future Design Opportunities and Usage
  • Sound Knowledge of Engineering Fundamentals
  • Test Building Materials
  • Troubleshoot Equipment to Solve Problems
  • Work to Improve and Maintain Existing Products

Creativity

Mechanical engineering involves developing and designing products, which range from batteries to electric generators to medical devices. Inventing products involves a lot of creativity, as does figuring out how to bring projects home within challenging timeframes.

  • 3D (Computer Aided Design) CAD
  • Complete Assigned Tasks Within Time and Cost Restraints
  • Convert Basic Design Information and Requirements into Working Drawings
  • Create Blueprints Using CAD (Computer Aided Design)
  • Develop Project Scope and Timeline
  • Drafting Standards and Geometric, Dimension, & Tolerancing (GD&T)
  • Prepare Designs and Estimates

Communication and Leadership

Often, mechanical engineers develop a product for a client. They may have to explain complex machines or devices to people who are not familiar with mechanical engineering. They have to be able to explain their ideas clearly and effectively, and this takes strong communication skills. They also frequently leverage their communication talents to take the lead of mechanical design and manufacturing projects.

  • Clearly Explain Design Ideas
  • Comfortable Writing Technical Reports
  • Make Regular Site Visits
  • Manage and Monitor Each Stage of Project
  • Oversee Project Manufacturing Process
  • Prepare Conclusion and Analysis Reports
  • Read and Interpret Drawings and Specifications
  • Recommend Modifications for Design Improvements and Simplification
  • Strong Presenter
  • Use Notes, Sketches, and Verbal Instructions to Complete Project Design
  • Write and Maintain Operating Procedures and Standards

Teamwork

Mechanical engineering involves lots of teamwork. Engineers often work in groups to invent technologies and solve problems. They might work with people that are not mechanical engineers, such as computer scientists or architects. As such, they need to be able to work with a diverse team of people to solve problems.

  • Assemble Project Deliverables
  • Assist with Field and Manufacturing Problems
  • Assist with Shipping of Equipment Prior to Deployment
  • Proactive and Willing to Take on New Challenges
  • Work Effectively Under Pressure

Math and Computer

Mechanical engineers need to be comfortable using math to solve problems. The math skills required in mechanical engineering include calculus and statistics. They must be adept in applying these skills to analyze problems and design solutions.

  • AutoCAD
  • Automated Model Programming
  • CAD (Computer Aided Design)
  • Engineering Product Data Management Software (EPDM)
  • Microsoft Office Suite Experience
  • Pro-E CREO Computer Aided Design Software
  • Understand Diagrams, Drafts, Flow-Charts, and Other Information and Documentation
  • Use Software to Design Within Industry and Government Standards

More Mechanical Engineer Skills

  • Ability to Clarify and Paraphrase
  • Computer Science
  • Compliance
  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Design
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Written Communication
  • Verbal Communication
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Independent Thinking
  • Investigation
  • Ongoing Improvement
  • Organization
  • Project Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Statistics
  • Data Analysis
  • Structural Analysis
  • Causal Relationships
  • Collaboration
  • Diagnostic
  • Evaluating
  • Integration
  • Judgment
  • Optimization
  • Policy

Resume Example

Review a resume sample for a mechanical engineer with tips and advice for what to include.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Add Your Most Relevant Skills to Your Resume: Employers now frequently employ automated applicant tracking systems as a first stage in their candidate search process. These systems are programmed to search for industry-specific keyword phrases. If your resume doesn’t include these keywords, it may be immediately screened out of consideration.

Highlight Your Skills in Your Cover Letter: As mentioned above, be sure to include your industry-specific keywords in the body of your cover letter, accompanied by specific examples of times when you demonstrated these skills in the workplace.

Use Skill Words During Job Interviews: You can also use these skill words in an interview. Again, make sure you have at least one example of a time you demonstrated each of the top skill sets listed above.