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How to become a mechanical engineer

You can become a mechanical engineer by completing a Modern Apprenticeship or applying for a vacancy on our recruitment website.

What is a mechanical engineer?

Mechanical engineers install, repair, and maintain mechanical equipment to make sure it is in working condition and can be used safely.

They work on heating, ventilation, air conditioning, hot water systems, dishwashers, sluice devices, and industrial laundry equipment.

Starting your career as a mechanical engineer

Choosing subjects at school

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

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Physics
  • Engineering Science

Speak to your guidance teacher about subjects offered at your school.

Workplacements and volunteering

You may find it helpful to get some healthcare experience by doing a work placement or volunteering. You’ll get training, increase your knowledge, and learn new skills. This could help you when applying to university, college or a new job with NHSScotland.

Education and training pathway

Modern Apprenticeships

A Modern Apprenticeship is a route to a career as a mechanical engineer in the NHS.

During the 4-year programme, you’ll complete an industry-recognised qualification. A qualified mechanical engineer will mentor you while you learn everything you need to know about domestic and industrial systems and mechanical equipment.

Learn more about an Engineering Modern Apprenticeship.

Other qualifications

If you already have an Engineering Modern Apprenticeship, you can apply for vacancies on our recruitment website

The following may be useful to have:

  • HNC Engineering Systems at SCQF level 7
  • HNC Mechanical Engineering at SCQF level 7
  • equivalent approved qualifications and experience

Get to know the role

In the NHS, hospitals and health centres must be kept at the right temperature to keep patients warm. It's also vital that supplies are kept cool.

You'll maintain and repair 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 at another healthcare facility.

Tasks include: 

  • planned maintenance activities
  • emergency repairs
  • diagnosing faults
  • obtaining and installing specialist components, fixtures or fittings
  • work to codes of practice and relevant statutory compliance requirements

You'll need these skills:

  • collaboration
  • communicating
  • time management
  • organisation
  • sense-making
  • problem-solving

You'll work with: 

  • maintenance supervisor
  • estates officer
  • other mechanical engineers

You could work in: 

  • hospitals
  • national treatment centres
  • health centres
  • other health and social care settings

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.

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