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Mechanical Engineer Vs. Network Engineer

Mechanical and network engineers have some superficial similarities but they may work in very different industries and have different objectives. Continue reading to learn more about the common duties associated with these professions.

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Comparing Mechanical Engineers to Network Engineers

Mechanical engineers and network engineers have similar educational requirements and typically earn comparable salaries. Although they both do design work, the things they design are very different and perform in different manners. While mechanical engineers work on mechanical devices, network engineers develop networks that connect computers and computer-related equipment. Take a look at the similarities and differences of these engineering fields below.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
Mechanical Engineers Bachelor's degree $68,943 9%
Network Engineers Bachelor's degree $70,975 6% (computer network architects)

Sources: *PayScale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Aeronautical and Aerospace Mechanics
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering Technologies

Responsibilities of Mechanical Engineers vs. Network Engineers

Mechanical engineers primarily work with machines and mechanical devices and may concentrate on products such as automobiles, elevators and refrigerators. Their objective is to develop new devices that perform specific functions or to improve the effectiveness of existing devices. Network engineers create systems that allow computers and other devices to connect. They have to consider a number of factors including whether a company is using remote data storage or able to transfer data between locations. They create a system based on the client's needs that will allow them to perform the tasks required while keeping their system secure.

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers draw from their creative talents as well as their mechanical and problem-solving skills to come up with ways to improve the performance of existing machines or to produce new machines. There are a wide range of industries they can work in, including architectural services, research and manufacturing. It's common for them to spend most of their time in an office, although those that work in manufacturing may travel to factories to observe production. With practical experience it may be possible for mechanical engineers to pursue management opportunities. Research positions often require a doctoral degree.

Job responsibilities of a mechanical engineer include:

  • Using computer design software to produce design plans
  • Assessing the effectiveness of mechanical devices
  • Identifying the source of performance issues
  • Producing and examining prototypes

Network Engineers

Network engineers are also known as computer network architects and their main focus is creating networks that can be used for communication between computers and other forms of technology. They typically study computer science or a comparable discipline in college and need to have a very high level of computer skill. They also need to understand technological issues related to computer use and data sharing. It's common for them to spend most of their time working in an office, and overtime is common. They're employed in a wide range of industries including telecommunications and education. Those who are interested in pursuing advancement opportunities may need to have a master's degree to be considered for computer and information systems manager roles.

Job responsibilities of a network engineer include:

  • Accessing and modifying computer hardware
  • Developing computer networking systems
  • Meeting with managers
  • Ensuring networks are secure
  • Determining what computer hardware needs to be replaced
  • Maintaining the network and correcting issues

Related Careers

Those interested in a career as a mechanical engineer may wish to learn more about what materials engineers do, as both careers design and create new items. Aspiring network engineers may be interested in finding out about how computers and networks are safe working as data security analysts.

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