Mechanical and electrical devices are made up of a multitude of parts, and component engineers are often the ones who create, design, and test those individual parts. Technical training for this career field usually happens during undergraduate engineering degree programs. Analytical problem-solvers with strong communication skills often do well in this profession.
Component engineers create, install and test specific parts of mechanical and electrical systems. They are employed in a wide variety of industries, including automotive, aviation, and appliance manufacturing. Entry-level positions in this field typically require a bachelor's degree in engineering, though some employers will also consider someone with a similar degree in physics, computer science, or mathematics. In some cases, an employer may prefer a candidate with a master's degree. This is a career field that would appeal to a person who enjoys working with metals, electronics, composites, or other materials, or someone who enjoys working with mechanical and electrical systems.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in engineering.|
|Other Requirements||Master's degree or equivalent experience (in some cases)|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||1%* (Materials Engineers)|
|Median Salary (2015)||$91,310* (Material Engineers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Component engineers ensure specific parts used in manufactured products and systems are reliable and effective. Their work is involved during the production, research, development, compliance, and design stages of manufacturing, though they may specialize in just one area. For example, some component engineers may help design new parts for larger systems or products in order to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Component engineers may also be responsible for testing or installing pre-existing components, machinery, or equipment.
As members of an engineering team, component engineers participate in the design, assembly, and testing of components to make sure they meet the company's specifications for quality and performance. They install and maintain parts, as well as advise other team members on their use and maintenance. Component engineers may also work as technical consultants within the design or manufacturing process.
Common industries that employ component engineers include consumer electronics, appliances, automotive, or aviation, and the specific day-to-day duties of these workers can vary depending on the industry. For instance, they may be involved in the design or assembly of mechanical or electrical parts for automobiles. They may work as quality control specialists and be tasked with ensuring the design and parts meet product standards and expectations. Component engineers may also be responsible for ensuring a product meets environmental standard such as the proper design, use, and disposal of lithium batteries.
According to multiple job listings found on Monster.com in November 2011, component engineering jobs typically require at least a bachelor's degree in engineering, though some jobs may also consider those with related degrees in areas like physics, computer science, or mathematics. Although not required for all positions, a master's degree in engineering may be preferred by some employers. In some positions, however, experience in a similar position can substitute for a graduate degree.
Component engineers must have a basic understanding of manufacturing mechanical and electrical systems within the industry they are employed. For instance, those in the electronics industry may need to have experience in reading schematics for circuit designs and be able to use industry standard electronic testing equipment. Other positions may look for candidates with experience in specific computer programs, such as Agile software or Unigraphics.
Job Outlook and Salary Info
The rate of employment growth for materials engineers, such as component engineers, is projected to be one percent from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additionally, the BLS indicated in a report published in May 2015 that the median salary earned by such engineers was $91,310 a year.
As these professionals specialize in creating the components used in various products, they are involved in all stages of development and testing. While master's degrees are not uncommon among these professionals, most component engineers hold bachelor's degrees in engineering or a related field. Job growth in this industry is predicted to be slow during the 2014-2024 decade, per the BLS.