Career Definition of a Fuel Cell Engineer
Fuel cell engineers design and build mechanisms, called fuel cells, that produce electricity through a chemical reaction involving hydrogen. There are some key duties that are shared by most engineers, including fuel cell engineers, including the responsibility to develop design plans. Once a design plan is drafted, the engineer must assess the design and work to improve it as needed. They oversee the construction of prototypes and continue to assess their product and make modifications so that their creation performs as desired. They also document their work, and once the product is ready, they may be involved in overseeing the production process.
Fuel cell engineers perform these tasks in relation to fuel cells. They may also work on improving the design plan of existing fuel cells. Once fuel cells are produced they perform tests to determine how effectively they function. The data from those tests can be used to work on design improvements or to develop new ways to reduce production costs or increase the fuel cell's efficiency.
|Educational Requirements||Bachelor's degree|
|Job Skills||Computer skills, familiar with computer aided design software, mathematical skills, technological skills, mechanical skills, problem-solving skills, creativity, teamwork skills, analytical skills|
|Median Salary (2016)*||$84,190 (mechanical engineers)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||9% (mechanical engineers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Entry-level positions for fuel cell engineers require a bachelor's degree. Some employers or specific roles may require applicants to have a master's or doctoral degree. Those interested in being a fuel cell engineer should study mechanical engineering and opt to take available courses related to fuel cell design. Being licensed as a Professional Engineer (PE) may also be required or preferred for some positions in this field. Since they perform design tasks, fuel cell engineers should be trained to use computer design software and should also know how to use programs such as Excel and Word.
Fuel cell engineers may collaborate with other engineers and professionals while performing their work so they need to be capable of working effectively as part of a team. They also need computer skills and should know how to use computer design software programs such as AutoCAD. Their work involves performing some calculations so they need to have mathematical skills. Problem-solving skills are important so that they can correct design problems. Fuel cell engineers also need to have strong analytical skills in order to assess design plans and product performance so that they can identify potential issues and areas for improvement.
Career Outlook and Salary
Fuel cell engineers are categorized with mechanical engineers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides data about their median annual salaries and anticipated job growth. From 2016 to 2026, the BLS expects jobs for mechanical engineers, including fuel cell engineers, to increase 9%. The 2016 median salary for these professionals reported by the BLS was $84,190.
There are many career options for those interested in engineering. Aspiring fuel cell engineers can compare careers as a biofuel process engineer, hydrology engineer or mechanical engineer by reviewing the material available through these links.