There are lots of starting points for choosing a career and using your subject is just one of them. You are not restricted to the career ideas below and you may wish to consider additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.
Remember too that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject and so your options are much broader than the examples given below.
Firstly, have a think about what ‘using your subject’ means to you and what you’re really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it’s a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?
Using your subject can help provide you with some focus for your career research, but the broader your interests the more career options you will have open to you. Use our resources below to stimulate your thinking.
Generating career ideas with Mechanical Engineering
Using the resources below you can start to create your own list of career ideas to research
- Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
- Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
- Browse the career ideas for Mechanical Engineering graduates on Prospects and TargetJobs but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
- Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject. Our Information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start.
Some career ideas for Mechanical Engineering graduates
Here are two examples of the diverse range of careers you can enter. Hera is a graduate, now working for Aecom. Rohan and Usman both work for British Steel.
Mechanical engineers can be involved in the design, development, manufacture and maintenance of mechanical products, equipment and systems.
They apply knowledge from physics, mathematics and materials to find sustainable, efficient, cost effective solutions to technical problems. As such mechanical engineers often work in multidisciplinary teams and can apply their knowledge to a broad range of industries including construction, transportation, aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, medical, communications and power/energy sector.
The work can involve managing projects from concept to completion including research, development, design, testing, manufacture, installation and commissioning.
A consultant engineer will research and prepare a solution to a technical project assigned by a client. You may specialise in a specific industry sector e.g. rail, aerospace and work with a variety of different clients within that sector.
In this role you will need to manage projects, work to project plan timescales, enjoy developing specialist knowledge and liaising with clients, often visiting or working on site at the client’s work place.
In this role you will design and control the manufacturing process in order to ensure production is efficient, timely and cost effective. You will evaluate the potential effectiveness of new processes, technologies and systems and present justification for your suggested changes and developments.
You may also design, install and commission new manufacturing equipment and assembly processes. Lean processes that maximise production levels, quality and efficiency and reduce cost, time and wastage are central to the process. This role creates lots of opportunities for practical, creative thinking graduates who enjoy improving processes and systems, who can work well with other people, manage change and implement new ideas.
|Building services engineer||
All buildings need services such as lighting, heating, ventilation and a power supply. Building services engineers design, install and maintain these services considering factors such as safety, energy efficiency, sustainability and reduced carbon emissions.
There is very much a multidisciplinary focus to the work as you could potentially be working with civil, structural and mechanical engineers and then liaising with contractors and trades professionals who will be installing and commissioning your recommendations.
Using your technical knowledge, mathematical and design skills you will create innovative solutions to technical problems working from initial concept, through to design, prototype, testing and development.
Projects may focus around machinery and vehicles to name a few. In this role you will need strong technical knowledge, CAD design skills as well as problem solving, communication, leadership and project management skills.
Automotive engineers design, develop and manufacture vehicles and their engineering systems. Engineers may specialise in particular areas of development such as emissions, powertrain, engines, chassis or prototyping and with the development of hybrid/electric or autonomous vehicles, there are an increasing range of development opportunities in this area. You don’t have to be a ‘petrol head’, but a career in automotive engineering would suit you if you have a technical mind, commercial awareness and an interest in the sector.
Within the aerospace/aeronautical sector you may be working on the mechanical aspects of aircraft, missiles, weapon systems or satellites.
You will be researching, designing, developing or maintaining the performance of these systems and working to improve flight safety, fuel efficiency, speed and weight, as well as reducing system costs and using advancing technologies to meet customer needs. You will work in a multidisciplinary team and with and safety critical procedures.
As a project engineer you will apply your project management skills to a technical project. You’ll need to create project plans and organise resources and people in order to deliver projects on time, within budget and to the required standard or client specification.
You’ll also need to liaise between different stakeholders in the project, for example, the client or contractor, trades or maintenance staff and technical specialists ensuring all are kept up to date on project deadlines, deliverables. You must be able to handle challenges and adapt to change, finding feasible solutions when things don’t work to plan.
This role would suit someone who is meticulous about meeting standards and committed to improving business performance. You will ensure that the product or service is consistently fit for purpose and meets both external and internal requirements, legal compliance and customer expectations.
In this role you might be required to monitor production and evaluate quality management systems. You will gather stats and produce reports measuring performance against set standards and analyse data in order to identify and introduce quality improvement measures. This might mean working with others to implement new systems, install new equipment or provide training and techniques that ensure others achieve the quality standards.
This specialist aspect of engineering is concerned with the generation, transmission, distribution and utilization of electric power networks and apparatus. Areas of work may involve power stations, renewable energy plants e.g. on and off shore wind power and systems used in aircraft or for electric railway networks.
You may enjoy this kind of work if you are interested in large scale infrastructure projects addressing today’s energy challenges.
|Patent attorney / patent examiner||
If you have an interest in law, a methodical and meticulous attention to detail and excellent written communication skills you may enjoy applying your technical background and engineering degree to this area of work. In this role you will assess whether inventions are eligible to be patented by searching through existing records of patents that have been approved and assessing whether the new product is sufficiently new and innovative.
You will develop extensive knowledge of intellectual property law and have highly honed skills in drafting patents. You may also advise companies and individuals through the process of gaining a patent or enforcing infringements.
If you want to apply your understanding of engineering processes, equipment and components within a more commercial role, then procurement may be an option to consider. This can involve purchasing and supply of components or services from second and third tier suppliers, negotiating contracts and quality guidelines.
This role requires communication, negotiation and persuasion skills, numeracy and the ability to build and maintain strong client /customer relationships
|Supply chain management||
Similar to the above this requires an understanding of engineering components and processes but involves the planning, design, supply, monitoring and logistics of getting components and services of the right quality to the right place at the right time within budget. This requires exceptional time management, planning, problem solving and commercial awareness.
This specialist aspect of engineering is concerned with the generation, transmission, distribution and utilisation of electric power networks and apparatus.
Areas of work may involve power stations, renewable energy plants eg on and off shore wind power and systems used in aircraft or for electric railway networks. You may enjoy this kind of work if you are interested in large scale infrastructure projects addressing today’s energy challenges.
Away from technical roles, you can apply your numeracy, business awareness and analytical skills to a more commercial role in finance. This could vary from investment management and banking to financial management or accounting roles.
This role may suit you if you enjoy evaluating and analysing data, creating solutions and communicating with a variety of people. As a business analyst, you'll work with an organisation to understand their products, services and the industry sector they operate within.
You’ll identify their future needs and challenges and help them to plan for the future and manage change in line with their company goals often in relation to information and software systems.
If you have enjoyed the aspects of your course such as physics, maths, technology, and are energised by sharing your love of the subject with others and thinking of new and engaging ways of presenting your knowledge, you might enjoy teaching as a career.
Obviously depending on the level of teaching, experience of and an ability to establish rapport with the relevant age group would also be a prerequisite as would good leadership and time management skills.