Mechanical Engineer Vs. Mechanical Designer

Mechanical engineers and designers may work towards a similar goal, but there are some major differences between their everyday tasks, degree requirements, and salaries.

Comparing Mechanical Engineers to Mechanical Designers

Mechanical engineers have a deep understanding of the specifications necessary to make their technical designs work accurately and safely, while mechanical designers have the skills to compose physical representations of these designs before they are built. Readers can learn the degree requirements to get into these careers, as well as the career outlooks, salaries, and some of the duties of these professionals.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Mechanical Engineers Bachelor's Degree $84,190 9%
Mechanical Designers Associate's Degree $53,480 (Drafters) 7% (Drafters)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Mechanical Engineers vs. Mechanical Designers

These technical professionals both utilize computer-aided design tools to develop machine components. Mechanical engineers dream up new systems to power machines, both large and small. Mechanical designers work with them to draw detailed models of these systems and parts. They may collectively go back to the drawing board and enhance or redesign old systems as well.

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers research cutting edge power sources as they develop more efficient power systems for engines, machines, and devices. They typically spend their days working on teams in offices, as they use computer programs to simulate and test their designs. These engineers may also complete real-world tests on prototypes they build, allowing them to determine if the components and raw materials they have chosen are going to function as intended. Car sensors that tell people when their engines are failing and mechanical prostheses for medical purposes are all the brain children of mechanical engineers.

Job responsibilities of a mechanical engineer include:

  • Determining the reason for components failing in mechanical equipment by analyzing complex tests
  • Comprehending and utilizing blueprints of machines to see how the thermal and mechanical systems work together with other components
  • Supervising the installation of their systems
  • Traveling to manufacturing sites to ensure their specifications are being followed

Mechanical Designers

Mechanical designers, or drafters, work with engineers to turn their roughly sketched designs into technical drawings. These are then used during production, which is why designers include any manufacturing procedures in their schematics. Interestingly, mechanical designers are the second largest group of drafters, after those in architecture. These professionals design 3-D models using computer-aided design software, such as SolidWorks, to make clear the way components and systems should operate. Their drawings can then be manipulated and changed based on the engineer's feedback.

Job responsibilities of a mechanical designer include:

  • Detailing the dimensions of each part in the drawing, keeping the production of the product consistent
  • Checking any mathematical calculations and measurements with the engineer
  • Redesigning old systems based on consumer feedback and efficiency measurements
  • Following drafting standards

Related Careers

Because you seem curious about a job as a mechanical engineer, you could also find fulfillment in a career as a nuclear engineer, because these careers require an understanding of energy and thermal dynamics. If it's a career as a mechanical designer you seek, you may want to also explore a career as a civil engineer, as both develop plans for building things people use every day.


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