What Does an Entry-Level Mechanical Engineer Do? (A Guide)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 March 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Becoming an entry-level mechanical engineer can provide a unique opportunity to work on mechanical systems and machines. As an entry-level professional, your duties might differ from a more experienced engineer. Understanding your entry-level duties can be an important part of learning about your role and any responsibilities you might handle as an entry-level engineer. In this article, we answer the question, 'What does an entry-level mechanical engineer do?' by exploring key duties and how to become an engineer.

What does an entry-level mechanical engineer do?

To answer the question, ‘What does an entry-level mechanical engineer do?’, it's important to explore the job's core duties. Here are some examples of key duties for a novice engineer:

Works on designs and blueprints

Entry-level engineers can work on designs and blueprints under the supervision of an experienced engineer. During these tasks, entry-level engineers learn more advanced blueprinting and design methods and other information from their more experienced tutors. This can help entry-level professionals learn the nuances of the job that education and training can miss. For example, an entry-level engineer might learn that blueprints use a different kind of paper than what they used during their university program. Entry-level engineers may create some designs on their own, but typically require the approval of a more experienced engineer before finalising any designs.

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Assists with research

Entry-level mechanical engineers can also assist with researching different mechanical tools, concepts or techniques or methods. Certain projects might require extensive research into materials availability and the viability of designs. Engineers might look at previous designs with similar parameters to determine where changes are necessary or to address errors that exist with current designs. This can include computer or book research or field research, where engineers visit facilities like factories or production warehouses to see certain processes.

Performs basic construction and assembly tasks

Novice engineers often assist with basic construction or assembly tasks under the supervision of an experienced engineer. They learn how to apply their knowledge of engineering principles, safety standards and engineering tools in a work environment. They might help the engineer assemble something like an engine or ensure the lead engineer has the tools to complete the job. During this important job training, entry-level mechanical engineers often learn the proprietary systems and methods that different employers might use. They also learn how an engineering project progresses from design to finalisation.

Performs repairs and mechanical upgrades

Mechanical engineers in a beginner role can perform repairs and mechanical upgrades on machines or components. An employer might start new engineers on these kinds of projects to determine their overall proficiency with the tools and methods they learned during their education. Entry-level individuals can practise their direct engineering and mechanical skills while learning about the work environment and any proprietary processes or tools their employer utilises. Employers might assign entry-level engineers to larger repair or upgrade projects once they complete some minor projects and demonstrate their proficiency.

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Performs stress analyses

Mechanical engineers often perform stress analyses on mechanical systems to determine the mechanical limits of the machinery or system. This can help engineers determine the tensile strength of specific materials, like metals, the functionality of a machine or system under different stress loads and the financial viability of the system. Senior engineers might assign these tasks to entry-level engineers to help familiarise them with the stress testing process and to help them learn how different materials and mechanical systems function. Entry-level engineers can utilise this key knowledge to create their own designs.

Participates in client meetings

Entry-level engineers may participate in meetings with clients to learn more about the business side of the engineering field. Engineers meet with clients to discuss project parameters, such as materials, cost and deadlines. It's important for novice engineers to participate in these meetings to learn how clients request projects, how senior engineers discuss project parameters and how to communicate professionally with clients. Such meetings can help novice engineers build core skills like communication, active listening and mutual respect and professionalism. They can also learn how to decline projects and why a senior engineer might decline.

Uses computer software for designs and plans

Novice engineers typically work with computer software to create designs and project plans. They learn the company's proprietary software and how engineers apply it to their projects. While engineers often learn how to use various software during their education, training under a senior engineer helps them learn how to use the software in a direct job setting. Most engineering designs begin as computer designs or drawings, so learning to use design and blueprint software can be important to the engineer's overall success in their career.

How to become an entry-level engineer

Becoming an entry-level mechanical engineer can take several years of education and requires licensing. Here are the requirements to become an entry-level engineer:

1. Get a degree in mechanical engineering

Earn a degree in mechanical engineering to start your career in the engineering field. Typically, a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement. A bachelor's degree typically takes around four years to complete and helps establish the fundamentals of engineering. Students learn about engineering principles, mathematics in engineering, engineering standards and mechanical systems. Some engineering degree programs might offer apprenticeships or other training opportunities, so consider taking advantage of such benefits to get prior experience in the field. This may help you earn the job you want by establishing some industry experience.

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2. Complete an internship

During your education or once you graduate, you can seek an internship with an established engineering firm. This can be a great way to gain professional training and guidance from an established professional and might increase your chances of earning a position with that company. Employers may prefer candidates with such experience because they've already trained under a licensed engineer and are more likely to be proficient in key engineering skills and processes.

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3. Apply for mechanical engineering positions

With a degree and potential internship or apprenticeship, you can begin applying for mechanical engineering positions. Entry-level positions typically require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, though some positions might ask for a master's degree or higher. Tailor your resume to reflect your best skills, achievements and experience. For example, if you earned an internship with a prestigious engineering firm at university, highlight this information on your resume to impress a potential employer. Create a resume that reflects what you can offer the company you're applying for to maximise your chances of success.

Read more: How to Write a Mechanical Engineer Resume (A Helpful Guide)

4. Apply for a Professional Engineer's Licence

After graduation, your professional education is expected to continue. Once you have a minimum of four years of experience, you can apply for a Professional Engineer's Licence through the Registered Professional Engineer program administered by the Association of Professional Engineers Australia. To earn a licence, engineers complete an assessment that determines their proficiency in their engineering discipline and familiarity with engineering and professional standards. Prospective engineers apply to take the professional assessment, which requires specific documents and credentials before acceptance. Earning a licence can allow you to work professionally as a fully qualified engineer in any discipline and is a legal requirement for engineers in Australia.

5. Earn a master's degree

Some positions might only accept applicants with a master's degree or higher to be certain they've mastered the principles of engineering. Additionally, a master's degree can provide a higher salary in most cases, so it might be a viable option to progress in your career. Consider pursuing a master's degree to enhance your resume and expand your base skills and knowledge. A master's program typically takes between two and three years to complete and is only an option for students who've completed their undergraduate programs.

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What does an entry-level mechanical engineer earn?

As an entry-level engineer, your salary might differ from a more experienced mechanical engineer. In Australia, mechanical engineers can earn an average salary of $108,659 per year. If you're wondering, 'What does an entry-level mechanical engineer do to increase their salary?' there are various answers. Some ways to increase your salary can include gaining higher credentials, more experience and finding an employer that offers better benefits, but experience level is typically a prime factor in engineer salaries. More experienced engineers can be less likely to make mistakes and understand a diverse set of engineering concepts.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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