Mechanical engineer

Mechanical engineers operate, maintain, test, and repair heating and ventilation systems, boiler plant, and steam distribution systems in hospital buildings, clinics, and other health facilities.

Starting your career

Choosing subjects at school

To become a mechanical engineer, you'll need a good standard of education. Useful subjects include:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Physics
  • Practical Electronics
  • Practical Metalworking

Work placements and volunteering

If you’re at school or thinking of changing career, volunteering or doing a work placement could help you when applying for a job in healthcare. You’ll learn new skills, improve your knowledge and discover what it’s like to work in the health service. 

Find out how to apply for work experience with the NHS.

Discover volunteering opportunities in healthcare.


An apprenticeship is a good way to start your career in healthcare.

Modern Apprenticeships

With an apprenticeship, you'll gain an industry-recognised qualification. Learn more about an Engineering Modern Apprenticeship.

Find out more about apprenticeships at

The role

In the NHS it's vital that healthcare settings are kept at the right temperature to keep patients warm, or to ensure vital supplies are kept cool.

You will be responsible for maintaining and repairing different systems, including heating and ventilation, steam distribution, air conditioning, and domestic water. You will be part of a team that can be working on a hospital site or other healthcare facility.

What you’ll do

Your main tasks include:

  • essential repairs and planned maintenance activities
  • emergency repairs
  • work to approved codes of practice and relevant statutory compliance requirements

Top skills

You’ll need these skills:

  • collaboration
  • communicating with people
  • planning
  • organisation
  • working in a team

Who you’ll work with

You could work with:

  • maintenance supervisor
  • estates officer
  • other mechanical engineers

Working environment

You could work in:

  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • other health and social care facilities

Useful information

To work as a mechanical engineer, you’ll need to:

Learning and development

As a mechanical engineer, you’ll work towards completing the Estates Workbook. During your career, you’ll also need to complete specialised training in systems and equipment. It will help you gain the knowledge required to comply with standards, laws, and national guidelines.

Gaining new qualifications could help you to progress your career in estates services, leading to more senior roles with greater responsibilities.

Professional bodies and related organisations

If you are an Engineer working in NHS Scotland there are several professionals you can join: