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How to Become a Harness Designer: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a harness designer. Research education, training, and licensure information and experience required for starting a career in engineering design. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Harness Designer?

Harness designers are electrical engineers who design wiring harnesses to keep electrical wires, cables, and other components neat and protected. Harness designs can be as simple as bundling wires together, while more complex designs might include splicing bundles of wires together into plugs. Designers must determine the most efficient ways to harness wires and cables together for cars, airplanes, and other electrical devices.

Electrical engineers usually work in comfortable, climate-controlled offices; however, they might occasionally travel to job sites to observe first-hand the factors that must be considered to accomplish a particular task, such as designing a wiring harness.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Electrical engineering
Key Skills Extensive knowledge of Microsoft Office, engineering design software programs, blueprint design drafting, wiring harness design protocols, and electrical components and theory.
Experience Testing wire harnesses, developing harness designs and drafting harness blueprints. Able to lift heavy pieces of equipment and be willing to travel to job sites as needed.
Licensure Professional Engineer (PE) license mandatory for some engineers, could be beneficial to all engineers
Salary (2015) $61,130 (Median annual salary for all electrical and electronics engineering technicians, which include harness designers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Job postings on CareerBuilder.com.

Steps to Become a Harness Designer

What steps do I need to take to become a harness designer?

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Many employers posting for positions on CareerBuilder.com in 2016 prefer applicants who hold at least bachelor's degrees or the equivalent years in education and experience. The BLS agrees that entry-level positions for electrical engineers often require a 4-year degree. Students can choose to major in electrical engineering, and some programs may offer concentration options in specific fields, such as computers. Electrical engineering courses may include signals and systems, circuitry, data structures, microcomputers, energy conversion and electromagnetism. Most electrical engineering programs also include several courses in mathematics.

Be sure to participate in professional development programs. Many universities offer professional development programs either in the form of internships or on-campus research projects. The BLS recommends that students take part in these professional experiences to gain some initial work experience and a better understanding of the electrical engineer career field.

Step 2: Build Technical Experience

As of 2016, employers advertising for harness designers on CareerBuilder.com were looking for applicants with anywhere from 2-5 years of experience in engineering and harness design. Several of the job postings mentioned a preference toward candidates with advanced technical skills, particularly with using computer design software programs. With a bachelor's degree, individuals can find entry-level positions with engineering design firms, which allows professionals to start building experience.

You may want to choose a field specialty. Technically, electrical engineers can design harnesses for practically any electronics device, but some professionals may prefer the unique challenges and requirements of certain specialty fields. For instance, some electrical engineers may prefer working on military defense projects, whereas others may enjoy designing for commercial products. Workers who have chosen preferred specialty fields may also have an easier time narrowing down potential job leads.

Step 3: Become Licensed

Licensure is not usually a requirement for professionals in this field. Nevertheless, individuals can pursue the Professional Engineer (PE) license at any time. According to the BLS, obtaining a PE license is a multi-step process. Eligible applicants must hold accredited bachelor's degrees before they're allowed to start the process. Step one involves passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. Next, individuals must build approved work experience. Finally, workers must pass the Professional Engineering (PE) exam to become licensed.

Step 4: Renew License

Information from the BLS shows that each state has different regulations for PE license renewal. Individuals may want to check with their own state licensing boards to verify state-specific license renewal procedures. Per the BLS, several states require licensed engineers to complete continuing education coursework as part of the renewal process.

Step 5: Stay Educated

Since the field of electrical engineering changes constantly, the BLS recommends professionals keep learning by attending continuing education courses or seminars. Individuals can take electrical engineering courses, but they may also want to attend vendor seminars. For instance, electrical and wiring vendors may host seminars to showcase new products that are essential for designing state-of-the-art wiring harnesses. For the most part, continued education is voluntary, but some employers may prefer or require employees to take courses on a regular basis.

Harness designers create designs to keep electrical wires and other components neat and protected in the most efficient ways. They have college degrees, along with extensive knowledge of industry software and electrical components, and they earn a median annual salary of $61,130.

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