How to Become a Performance Engineer: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a performance engineer. Research the education requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in engineering.

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Should I Become a Performance Engineer?

Performance engineers can be found in a variety of industries, including automotive, utilities and manufacturing; however, the majority of them work in the information technology (IT) field, since performance engineering usually entails the creation and implementation of a software solution to a specific business or industrial issue. This article will focus on performance engineering from an IT standpoint.

Performance engineers may work as part of a team striving to solve a common problem; some people in this occupation may work on-site in an office, while others could telecommute. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth is expected to be strong because of the growing use of mobile software applications and an increase in the number of household and other appliances, instruments and tools that incorporate software.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree required; many employers prefer a graduate degree
Degree Field Computer science or related field
Experience About 2-5+ years of experience required for many positions
Key Skills Software such as Linux, SQL, C++; math skills, communication skills, teamwork; knowledge of computer hardware equipment, such as processors, circuit boards and chips, as well as tools, including file or Web servers
Salary (2016) $86,104 per year (Median salary for performance engineers)

Sources: University of Arkansas at Little Rock, CareerBuilder.com (December 2012 job postings), O*Net OnLine, Payscale.com

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science

Undergraduate programs in computer science are available at many universities. These programs teach students about the creation and implementation of computer software and its relationship to hardware. Courses may include algorithms, computer programming and cryptography.

Success Tip:

  • Consider completing a combined bachelor's and master's degree program. Some computer science degree programs enable an individual to earn both degrees in five years. A new computer science graduate may have an advantage in finding employment if he or she has a master's degree.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Typically, employers seeks candidates with at least two years experience in the computer engineering field. Performance engineers in the IT field may perform tasks such as developing and implementing performance tests, troubleshooting IT problems and recommending ways to manage computer systems more efficiently.

Step 3: Pursue Professional Certification

The BLS reported that many product vendors and professional organizations offer certification to employees in computer science. While not typically required, it can help employees attain a competitive edge in the job market. For instance, performance engineers can receive certification through HyPerformix, an IT planning and management company. Their Enterprise Performance Engineering Certification program is split into fundamental and advanced levels. Both sections require taking a course and passing an exam.

Step 4: Seek Continuing Education

Technology like computer software and hardware constantly changes. Thus, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommendation, an important part of working in software engineering is continuing education. Completing continuing education coursework may also be necessary in order to renew certification. Classes in the latest computer developments may be offered by employers, vendors or educational institutions.

Step 5: Consider Earning a Master's Degree in Computer Science

According to the BLS, graduate degrees in CS may be required for more complex IT work. Master's degree programs in the field focus on a broad range of computer topics. In addition to staples, such as programming languages, one may also study topics ranging from graphics to games to security. These programs may require a student to write a thesis comprised of original research on a relevant topic. Experienced engineers with advanced degrees may be prepared for work as project managers or chief information officers.

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