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Product Development Engineer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Product development engineers require some formal education. Learn about the necessary education, job description, duties and salary statistics to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Product development engineers create and test new product designs and formulate manufacturing specifications. They identify company goals, integrate market research and perform design analyses. Typically, the minimum qualification for entry-level positions is an engineering bachelor's degree.

Required Education A bachelor's degree in engineering
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 4% (industrial designers)
Median Annual Salary (May 2013)* $62,370 (commercial & industrial designers)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for a Product Development Engineer

Product development engineers oversee the conception and design of a manufactured goods. Professionals with this job title work in a variety of fields, creating products like shampoos, engine transmissions, medical devices, electrical circuits and computer hardware.

The primary responsibility of development engineers is to create a product design that fulfills a company or client's strategic goals while integrating the needs of marketing, sales and manufacturing departments. They oversee research and design teams, lead testing procedures and draft specifications for manufacturing. They direct the creation of models or samples and fine-tune designs until they are ready for production.

Duties of a Product Development Engineer

Initial research duties for a product development engineer include identifying the needs and goals for a new product, from function to aesthetics. They often coordinate with market researchers and materials suppliers to evaluate market needs, existing competition and potential costs.

Product development engineers then create a design using computer-aided design software and fabricate models that can be tested. They experiment with and analyze different materials, manufacturing processes, design tolerances and other factors in the developmental process. After refining and reviewing initial designs, product development engineers deliver specifications and procedures to manufacturing teams who can then begin production.

Requirements to Become a Product Development Engineer

According to November 2014 job postings on CareerBuilder.com, employers generally required individuals who had completed at least a bachelor's degree program in engineering and had several years of development experience. Companies often prefer industry-specific experience related to the types of products they produce. For example, a biotechnology company might request candidates that have a medical engineering background and are familiar with healthcare regulations.

Knowledge of manufacturing processes, materials and quality assurance protocols can be beneficial. Completion of a master's degree program or licensure as a Professional Engineer could increase hiring opportunities.

Salary and Employment Outlook

Product development engineers, also called industrial or commercial designers, made a median annual wage of $62,370 as of May 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects that, with an increase of only 4%, employment for this group of workers will grow at a slower than average pace over the 2012-2022 decade.

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