Everything people buy or use was once an idea in the head of a product design engineer. These professionals work for organizations to design new products that customers will want to purchase. Artistic individuals who know how to solve problems with a creative touch often excel in this profession.
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Product design engineers, also known as industrial designers, combine their knowledge of design, engineering, and manufacturing processes to create functional products. They may conduct tests in order to determine whether their products meet all requirements, then document the results. Product design engineers must often meet with members of various departments within their companies in order to review prototypes or discuss required design modifications. The majority of entry-level positions require applicants to hold bachelor's degrees in fields related to engineering, architecture, or industrial design. Creative problem solvers who enjoy designing useful items may do very well at this career.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Skills Requirements||Artistic; familiar with computer aided drafting and design (CADD) software programs; strong grasp of mechanical engineering concepts; able to collaborate on ideas with team members.|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||2%* (for industrial designers)|
|Median Annual Salary (2016)||$66,055**|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,**PayScale.com.
It is important that product design engineers be familiar with, and adhere to, their company's product standards and specifications, so that they may design quality products that represent the company brand. They must also keep trends and the needs of consumers in mind when designing products. Product design engineers may also be responsible for making improvements or updates to existing design and development standards. Professionals may also need to understand how their decisions affect product cost, performance, and quality.
Job Outlook and Salary
For the decade between 2014 and 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a rather slow rate of growth of only 2% for industrial designer positions. Professionals who design products for certain industries, such as those designing medical equipment or other high-precision tools, may experience better job opportunities during this decade, per the BLS. According to PayScale.com, product design engineers earned a median annual salary of $66,055 as of October 2016. The annual salary range as reported by this source during 2016 was $52,450 - $100,743.
Education and Training Requirements
The usual minimum education requirement for product design engineers is a bachelor's degree. Majors that could prepare a person for a career as a product design engineer are product design and manufacturing engineering, mechanical engineering, and product design engineering technology. Students enrolled in bachelor's degree programs geared specifically toward careers in product design engineering typically take courses in thermodynamics, machine design, manufacturing processes, statistics, and computer-aided design. Seniors may be required to complete a product design-engineering project, in which they investigate design problems in engineering.
Most employers require that job candidates be familiar with the type of product that they wish to work with. For example, those applying to information technology companies should be familiar with computers, while those applying to automotive manufacturers should be familiar with cars. In general, employers require a few years of related work experience. Since product design engineers often use computers to create designs and reports, they should be proficient in certain software applications, such as AutoCAD, Microsoft Office, and Adobe Acrobat.
Product design engineers work for organizations to create and build new products, so they need to understand the company's mission, customer needs, and production costs. Per the BLS, the rate of job growth for industrial designers, including product design engineers, will be slow during the 2014-2024 decade at only 2%. The majority of employers prefer candidates who have bachelor's degrees in fields like engineering or manufacturing, and some employers prefer candidates to have training or job experience within specific industries, such as the automotive industry or information technology.