How to Become a Reliability Engineer

How to Become a Reliability Engineer: Career Path Guide

Although there are other paths to take, a common way to become a reliability engineer is to follow these essential steps:


1. Excel at calculus, geometry, algebra and physics in high school

2. Determine if this occupation is suited to your interests, qualities and traits

3. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in whatever field of engineering interests you

4. Find an internship or co-op opportunity while you’re a student

5. Get an engineer-in-training job after graduation 

6. Gain experience and become certification as a Professional Engineer 

7. Move into leadership roles as your career progresses


Below we've expanded on these points, to give you a more complete idea of what you'll need to begin a career as a reliability engineer in the United States or Canada...starting with the education you'll need.



What Education Will I Need?

Reliability engineering is a vast field that encompasses most disciplines of engineering, so the type of engineering degree you’ll need will be one that’s relevant to your employer’s area of operations. For example, if your future employer is an automobile producer, you would likely need a Mechanical Engineering degree.


Please Note: Some will accept master's degree in materials science or physics in place of an engineering degree.




What is a Reliability Engineer?

Reliability engineers are responsible for identifying and managing asset reliability risks that could adversely affect a plant or business’s operations. They utilize principles of math, science and engineering to make industrial manufacturing and production processes and products more efficient and dependable. 



What Does a Reliability Engineer Do?

Although their duties can vary, reliability engineers are generally responsible for the following:


• Analyzing preliminary plans and designs

• Developing reliability engineering programs in order assist customers achieve their operational objectives

• Calculating cumulative effects on final system reliability and individual part reliability by analyzing product utilization data

• Identifying units which pose high failure risk by using computer aided engineering equipment

• Entering data to simulate electrical inputs, transient conditions, temperature, stress, and other factors to develop computer models

• Conferring with engineers to make reliability recommendations

• Analyzing and adjusts design to predict and improve system reliability

• Observing conduct of tests at supplier, plant, or field locations to evaluate reliability factors, such as numbers and causes of unit failures



Will I Need Work Experience to Become a Reliability Engineer?

Most “engineer-in-training” roles (entry-level engineering jobs) don’t require any work experience above what you gain as part of your mandatory degree-based internship or co-op work placement. Mid and senior-level roles however, often require 3-5 years of experience working in lower level roles, with progressive amounts of responsibility in those roles, as well as Professional Engineer certification. 


Success Tip: Working in the industry in which you hope to find work after graduation (at any capacity, even in a marketing department) during your summers is a great way to gain even more experience above an internship/co-op work opportunity. 



Do I Need to Be Licensed/Certified to Become a Reliability Engineer?

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 designation in order to sell your own engineering services publicly. However, since it can only be earned through years of supervised real-world work experience, you won't need to have it to be hired on as an engineer-in-training.



How Do I Become Licensed?

Licensing requirements typically involve completion of an accredited engineering degree, completion of a set number of supervised working hours, and passing an exam (or series of exams). However, the requirements can vary by region, so please contact your provincial/territorial/state engineering association for the full story on becoming licensed.



How Can I Prepare for Reliability Engineering in High School?

Reliability engineers need a comprehensive understanding of both math and science. Taking advanced science and math coursework in areas such as physics, chemistry, trigonometry and calculus during your high school years is a great way to get a head start on becoming a reliability engineer. 



What is the Work Environment Like?

Work Setting: Your work would be based out of an office, but you would also spend time out in the field or on the production floor, making observations directly. Travel is sometimes required, such as when visiting production facilities, or attending meetings and conferences.


Work Schedule: Depending on the operations of your employer, you might work a typical 9-5 schedule, or do shift work, which would involve working long days or nights consecutively, including weekends and holidays.


Working Conditions: You would often work with other professionals, including operations managers, production managers, and other stakeholders. Your work could be quite stressful at times, such as when dealing with resistance to your ideas/proposals, or when facing tight deadlines or emergencies. 



Should I Become a Reliability Engineer? 

To get the most out of any career it will have to fulfill you in various personal and professional ways. Having the following personal traits and professional interests will go a long way towards helping you find satisfaction in this career:


• You have a natural aptitude in math, physics and engineering

• You’re the kind of person who studies and applies engineering principles in your spare time

• You have a keen interest in Loss Elimination, Risk Management and Life Cycle Asset Management (LCAM)

• You enjoy work that involves a wide array of duties and work environments, ranging from lab work, to office work, to production floor work

• You’re willing to learn to live by your employers’ values and codes of conduct

• You’re willing to stay ahead of the curve and seek out opportunities to learn new technologies

• You’re looking for a well-paying career with plenty of opportunities for advancement and specialization 



Who Creates Jobs for Reliability Engineers?

Reliability engineers are employed with companies in a broad array of industries, including:


• Aerospace and automotive companies

• Electronics and IT engineering companies 

• Energy utilities 

• Engineering construction companies 

• Engineering consultancies

• Government agencies (all levels)

• Medical engineering firms and consultancies

• Oil, gas, mining and petrochemical companies

• Research agencies

• The armed forces

• Colleges and universities 

• Manufacturers of commercial, consumer, industrial and institutional goods

• Equipment and machinery repair companies

• Transport companies (including roads and railways)



Reliability Engineer Jobs

Our job board below has postings for reliability engineers in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. 

What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

If you demonstrate a strong work ethic, dedication, competence, and an interest in continuously challenging yourself professionally, then plenty of opportunities to advance into roles of greater responsibility and pay will present themselves to you.


With enough experience for example, you could work on more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions. You could also move into supervisory or management roles, such as Project Engineer, or move into complimentary roles, such as becoming an engineering consultant or a highly valued specialist in a specific area of reliability engineering.


Alternatively, you could choose to work in an outside area of operations or administration related to reliability engineering, such as business development, technical sales, purchasing, manufacturing management, or marketing.

Choosing to Become a Specialist?


Success Tip: Obtaining a master’s degree facilitates specialization and develops expertise in an area of reliability engineering.



What are Careers Similar to “Reliability Engineer”?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “Reliability Engineer”:


• Cost Analyst

• Industrial Engineer

• Maintenance Engineer

• Manufacturing Engineer

• Mechanical Engineer

• Process Engineer

• Project Engineer

• Project Manager

• Quality Control Specialist



What Are Scholarships for Becoming a Reliability Engineer? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a Reliability Engineer. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our “Any Field of Study 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 reliability engineer:


• Occupational Profile: “Mechanical Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved March 20, 2017.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Mechanical Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 20, 2017.

• Articles: “Where Do Reliability Engineers Come From?” Dr. Klaus Blache (n.d.). Reliability Web. Retrieved March 20, 2017.

• Resources: “What’s the role of the Reliability Engineer?” (n.d.). LCE- Life Cycle Engineering. Retrieved March 20, 2017.


Please Note: Some of the information for this career guide was compiled from actual job postings, which due to their brief online existence are not listed here as sources.



Majors in Our Database Relevant for Becoming a Reliability Engineer

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a reliability engineer. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


Top Banner Image: