How to Become a Product Development Engineer
Do you love to solve tough technical problems? Are you passionate about engineering design? Do you like when problems pose additional challenges, such as making a design that uses only low-cost, but high-quality and environmentally-friendly materials?
If you’re the right person for a challenge like that, a career as a product development engineer might be very well-suited for you. Here are some quick highlights of a career in this field:
• An excellent level of pay
• A wide variety of work tasks to perform
• A variety of work settings (office, board room, production floor)
• The opportunity to work with a variety of different professionals
• An opportunity to use creativity, technical abilities, and project management skills
• A variety of different possible industries to work within
If you want to know more about the ins and outs of this career, then read on; we’ll fill you in on the details, including an overview of what you would do, how much you could earn, and what you’ll need to do to get into this field.
Education Needed to Become a Product Development Engineer
To become a product development engineer, you typically need a degree in Mechanical or Electrical engineering. However, if you will be working in a specialized industry, degree in a related field of engineering will be ideal.
For example, if you’re going to be developing chemical products, a degree in chemical engineering will be well-suited. Or, if you are going to be developing software products, a degree in software engineering will be the best fit.
Regardless of what major you choose, you should take classes in the following areas if you want to become a product development engineer:
• Engineering product design
• Industrial design
• Computer-aided design (CAD)
• Materials science
• Product Development Management
Success Tip: Although a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for most jobs, some employers will require you to have a master’s degree. This is especially true for research-oriented jobs.
Product Development Engineer: General Job Description
As a product development engineer, you would be responsible for generating new product ideas, evaluating those ideas, and structuring and managing the development process.
You would also be responsible for testing them, in order to ensure their user-friendliness and marketability, and ensuring they conform to the quality standards set forth by your employer.
General Job Duties
The specific job duties you would perform can vary quite a bit from one job to the next. However, it’s likely you would be responsible for some, or all, of the following tasks:
• Utilizing computer-aided design programs
• Developing new and innovative products that support the objectives and growth of the firm
• Creating product prototypes
• Testing the usability of prototypes
• Identifying flaws and problems during testing
• Developing designs for the packaging of the product in liaison with packaging designers and engineers
• Liaising with marketing and sales personnel
Certification and Licensing Needed
You will need to be licensed as a Professional Engineer (“PE” - United States; “P.Eng.” - Canada) in order to exercise direct control of a public project and to supervise other engineers and engineering technicians.
You will also need to have the PE/P.Eng. designation in order to sell your own engineering services publicly.
If you are not licensed, you may still work on engineering projects under the supervision of a licensed engineer.
Success Tip: Some employers may not require you to be licensed for entry-level jobs, but eventually becoming licensed is an excellent move for career-advancement purposes.
Skills You’ll Need to Succeed
In order to succeed in this field, you’ll need to have a certain knowledge base and skill set, including:
• Strong problem-solving skills
• Excellent knowledge of computer assisted design (CAD) software
• An excellent grasp of engineering and design principles
• Knowledge of the qualities of various materials
• Excellent understanding of manufacturing processes and construction methods
• An awareness of the environmental impact of design ideas
• Project management skills
Success Tip: Looking through job postings will give you a great idea of what skills (and other attributes) are needed for various product development engineer jobs.
Product Development Engineer Job Opportunities
Product Development Engineer Jobs - Canada
Product Development Engineer Jobs - United States
Industries in Which You Could Work
Most product development engineers are employed in the manufacturing & processing of commercial, industrial and household goods (which includes any type of product conceivable, ranging from carnival rides, to roofing products, to sports equipment).
However, product development engineers are also employed in other sectors of industry, including (but not limited to):
• Electronics industry (including computer applications & software)
• Healthcare technology & engineering
• Power generation & distribution
• Research & development, scientific research, & education
Salary Figures for Product Development Engineers
The salary level you could earn as a product development engineer can vary, typically depending on the following factors:
• Your level of education
• Your level of experience
• The specific responsibilities of your job
• The size and type of your employer
• The region in which you work
• The types of products you are developing
• Many other factors
Unfortunately there are no salary figures available for “Product Development Engineers” from reliable sources. We can however, get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the salary level of workers in closely related occupations, such as “Electrical Engineers” and “Mechanical Engineers”.
Salary in Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Mechanical Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $111,810 per year, and those working in the Electrical Engineers occupational group earn $104,815 per year. Unfortunately, no reliable salary information is available for the rest of Canada.
Salary in the United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Electrical and Electronics Engineers occupational group is $95,230 per year, while that of workers in the Mechanical Engineers group is $83,590 per year.
Careers Similar to “Product Development Engineer”
Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Product Development Engineer, as they may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities:
Scholarships for Becoming a Product Development Engineer
The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a Product Development Engineer. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our Scholarships page.
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a product development engineer:
• Occupational Profile: “Mechanical Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
• Occupational Profile: “Electrical Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Electrical & Electronics Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Mechanical Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
• Job Profiles: “Design & Development Engineer.” (n.d.). National Careers Service. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
• Job Roles: “Design/Product Development Engineer.” (n.d.). Future in Tech. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
Becoming a Product Development Engineer: Majors in Our System
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for becoming a Product Development Engineer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!