Mechanical Engineering Careers for Veterans

Jan 02, 2019

A number of military jobs involve working with mechanical devices, such as jobs in machinery, aircraft, sensing technology, weapons, and many other areas. Below are five careers related to mechanical engineering that could be a good fit for veterans with mechanical and technical experience.

Career Comparison

Job Title Median Wage (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)* Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Drafters $53,480 7% Experience creating maps and diagrams with Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) software
Mechanical Engineering Technicians $54,480 5% Testing and repairs on aircraft, vehicles, and weapons
Mechanical Engineers $84,190 9% Research, repair, and working experience with mechanical systems
Biomedical Engineers $85,620 7% Mechanical/repair experience with medical equipment
Electro-Mechanical Technicians $55,610 4% Experience testing and repairing power systems and engines

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Civilian Mechanical Engineering Careers for Veterans

Veterans gain valuable experience as technicians or engineers during their active duty service. These skills are a good foundation in mechanical engineering and a number of other related careers. Veterans' hands-on experience with systems that are used in combat or for combat support may help them to stand out among other candidates.


Military veterans with experience in jobs like Army technical engineer (12T) and those who have worked with CAD to make maps and diagrams may find a drafting career viable and interesting. They can apply their knowledge of CAD to mechanical drafting specifically.

Drafters make the drawings and diagrams that specify how to build the designs of engineers. They often use software known as CAD to create their drawings. Drafters in general may work in many different fields, such as architecture, construction, and mechanical drafting. Mechanical drafters create detailed blueprints for machinery and tools. This position requires specialized knowledge which can be gained via a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree program.

Mechanical Engineering Technicians

Veterans with experience as Army helicopter repairers (15R), Army artillery mechanics (91P), or Navy gas turbine systems technicians, mechanical (GSM), among other technical mechanic and repair jobs, could have a good start on pursuing this career. Military mechanical testing and repair experience is likely to be respected by employers.

Mechanical engineering technicians provide assistance to mechanical engineers in the design and manufacture of different types of tools and machines. They use specialized software to create design layouts and may help engineers troubleshoot problems. They may work on calculations, perform tests, and record data. An associate's degree is commonly required for this field.

Mechanical Engineers

Veterans who worked as mechanical engineers in any branch of the military will find civilian work in this career a natural choice. This career may also be suitable for those who worked in a variety of jobs, such as Army avionic mechanics (15N) or Navy machinery repairman (MR). Experience with aircraft and machinery could be highly valued by civilian engineering firms, particularly defense contractors.

Mechanical engineers design and help manufacture a range of mechanical systems, devices, and products, including vehicles, energy-generating machinery and engines, heating/cooling systems, and medical devices. They also work with thermal devices and temperature sensors. They prototype and test their designs as well as build or direct the manufacturing process. A bachelor's degree is required.

Biomedical Engineers

Biomedical engineering is closely related to mechanical engineering since both types of engineers use mechanical engineering principles to design medical devices. Veterans who applied their mechanical skills to the medical field as service members, such as biomedical equipment specialists (68K), may find this career path an interesting fit for their skills. Those with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering already qualify for the position.

In addition to providing technical support for medical equipment and conducting maintenance and repairs, biomedical engineers design medical machines, artificial organs, prosthetic limbs, and even exercise equipment. They may even fabricate the materials needed to build a given device.

Electro-mechanical Technicians

Army tactical power generation specialist (91D) veterans and those with hands-on experience maintaining and operating power generation equipment could do well as electro-mechanical technicians. Electro-mechanical technicians work with devices that integrate mechanical principles as well as electrical and electronic systems. For example, they may work with a mechanical turbine that produces electric current or a robotic arm powered by electricity. In their day-to-day work, electricians may test and operate different types of equipment, from smaller automated equipment to larger industrial systems. An associate's degree or vocational certificate is required.

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