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Engineer vs Mechanic: Which One’s For You?

Engineers and mechanics both have important roles in keeping cars and other vehicles in order. Although you’d be forgiven for thinking their jobs are similar, working as one or the other is a very distinct experience. If you’re on the fence about becoming a mechanic or an engineer, then there are some important factors to think about. I hope this posts helps!

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We’ll get the income out of the way first. I know this is pretty important for some people’s career choices! Yes, both professions work with vehicles. However, engineers work in the broader sense, designing and innovating new vehicles or improving existing ones. Mechanics work from a case to case basis, diagnosing and repairing errors. As you can imagine, engineers make significantly more money than mechanics. An automotive engineer can easily make twice as much per year as an automotive mechanic. Yes, there are a lot of different opportunities out there. An aircraft mechanic can usually be expected to earn more than a standard car mechanic. However, overall, the engineering profession is seen as more of a gold mine than becoming a mechanic.

The training standards of each role are fairly different. At the bare minimum, engineers have a bachelor’s degree in engineering. After this, a lot of them will go on to work on a master’s. The latter is usually intended to specialise in a particular kind of engineering. Mechanics, if they’re only working in a repair shop, will need a high school diploma or equivalent. They almost always go through an extensive training program before they’re allowed to work on any vehicles. Some vocational schools in the US offer associate degree programs for budding mechanics. These courses will focus on repairs, and may involve some hands-on experience. However, your real training will begin in the auto shop.

So, what will you be doing in each role? Engineers will typically work for vehicle manufacturing companies. Aside from that, you might be hired to work on government projects. Many niches constantly require engineering expertise. Some engineers have a hand in designing new machinery. Others will examine machinery which is currently in use, analyse how well it’s performing and diagnose problems. Mechanics, on the other hand, work at auto shops or dealerships. Unlike engineers, mechanics will work directly with the driver of a car, and the individual vehicle. This adds a certain unpredictability, which makes the position fairly sought after. Generally, a mechanic will work to find the source of a problem in a vehicle. Then, they’ll fix it, and push the vehicle a little closer to its optimum performance. If you really want to stretch all your mechanical knowledge, then engineering is probably the way to go. However, if you want something more varied and customer-facing, go for mechanic.

I hope this post has given you a better idea of the career you’re going to pursue. There are all kinds of opportunities working with machinery. If you want to be on the front line, then engineering and repairs are the way to go.


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