Mechanical Engineer Vs. Manufacturing Engineer

Although some duties of mechanical and manufacturing engineers are similar, the main focus of their work is very different. Read on to learn more about their differing responsibilities, along with the salary expectations, job prospects, and training requirements of these careers.

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Comparing Mechanical Engineers to Manufacturing Engineers

Superficially, mechanical and manufacturing engineers are both involved with product or equipment design and the manufacturing of products, but the focus of their work can differ significantly. Mechanical engineers design and develop specific types of machines, while manufacturing engineers work to improve the manufacturing process for a range of products and may also contribute to altering product designs.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Mechanical Engineers Bachelor's degree $84,190 9%
Manufacturing Engineers Bachelor's degree $97,300 (engineers, all other) 6% (engineers, all other)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Mechanical Engineers vs. Manufacturing Engineers

Mechanical engineers are responsible for developing new products and ways to modify existing products to improve their function and design. They review mechanical issues that arise and determine what caused them. They can also help identify ways to solve specific issues, and once they've effectively created or modified a design plan they monitor the production of these mechanical devices. Manufacturing engineers can focus their talents on any items that are manufactured and may help with modifying product designs or the production systems that are being used to produce products. Their objective is to make the manufacturing process more cost-effective while maintaining the quality of the product. They can contribute to production at any stage, from determining what materials should be used to creating equipment that can be used in the production of other items.

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers may work in engineering, architectural, research or manufacturing industries and spend most of their time in an office. They need to have a bachelor's degree and usually focus their studies on mechanical engineering to prepare for their career. They are responsible for producing mechanical devices and play an integral role in all stages of the production of things such as tools and refrigerators. They are also involved with machines that are installed in buildings, such as escalators. Some opt to focus on working with automobiles while others specialize in robotics.

Job responsibilities of a mechanical engineer include:

  • Using computer aided design
  • Constructing prototypes
  • Evaluating the prototypes to determine if they're effective
  • Monitoring production
  • Generating specifications for parts

Manufacturing Engineers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 76% of manufacturing engineers have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. While it may be possible to enter this field with an associate's degree most employers will look for applicants who have a four-year degree. Manufacturing engineers focus on improving production methods. They may do this by collaborating with product designers to determine ways to improve design plans or by producing more effective systems for manufacturing specific items. These professionals may also be known as plant engineers or process engineers.

Job responsibilities of a manufacturing engineer include:

  • Operating computer design software to produce product and systems designs
  • Evaluating the production methods used for specific items
  • Analyzing designs and production methods
  • Developing solutions to specific production issues
  • Performing cost-benefit analyses

Related Careers

Aspiring mechanical engineers may also be interested in other engineering professions and may want to learn more about the following duties of electricity engineers. Manufacturing engineers may want to explore the work of industrial engineers, below, because they also focus on production methods.

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