Become a Mechanical Technician
Mechanical technicians, also referred to as mechanical engineering technicians, are responsible for assisting mechanical engineers in the design of machinery, products, and equipment. Any designs created by mechanical engineers are tested by technicians to ensure they are safe, reliable, and used properly. The duties of mechanical technicians may include creating the drawings or sketches used in production, recording data, making estimates, and analyzing test results. Safety precautions must be followed to prevent injuries from toxic materials or equipment while working in this industry.
A career as a mechanical technician will require an associate degree. However, employers may prefer mechanical technicians with bachelor's-level training in mechanical technology. Those interested in this line of work may benefit from developing a few key skills. This includes communication skills, creativity, and problem solving. The ability to operate different types of machinery and use various software programs may also be a plus. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of May 2015, the median annual salary for mechanical engineering technicians is $53,910.
Step 1: Earn an Associate Degree
Employers typically look for applicants with postsecondary training, which may include an associate degree in mechanical engineering technology, or MET. The curriculum usually involves mathematics classes, such as algebra and calculus, and mechanical-related courses, like fluid mechanics and mechanical engineering design. An associate degree program normally takes two years to complete, and graduates should be prepared to install, maintain, and perform tests on mechanical systems.
Step 2: Find an Internship
Students can gain hands-on experience by participating in internships through a school's MET program. This is an opportunity for technicians to begin applying what was learned in the classroom environment to real-world experience. Interns may shadow an experienced mechanical technician who can help a promising technician gain the skills necessary to obtain professional employment.
Step 3: Obtain Employment
Upon graduation, individuals can find work as mechanical technicians in various industries, including research and development, testing laboratories, and manufacturing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, two of the fastest growing fields for technicians include remanufacturing, the process of restoring nonworking products into workable conditions, and alternative energy, which focuses on solar and wind power.
Step 4: Continuing Education
Mechanical technicians interested in advancing their career or pursuing a mechanical engineering job should consider earning a bachelor's degree. A Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology includes advanced courses in the field and additional laboratory time. Examples of advanced classes include 3D modeling, manufacturing processes, and project engineering, among others.
A career as a mechanical technician, in which an individual works cooperatively with engineers to install, maintain, test, plan for, and produce mechanical parts according to given specifications, will require a minimum of an associate degree. Those preparing to enter this line of work should strive to gain hands-on experience through an internship and consider earning a bachelor's degree in order to advance in the field.