What is a Product Engineer?
A Product Engineer is a Mechanical Engineer who specializes in designing products and their corresponding manufacturing processes. They are also responsible for transitioning the product from design to manufacturing at scale. Virtually every industry that involves manufacturing products for sale employs Product Engineers. Their work environment is typically on-site at a manufacturing plant or in the corporate office working on designs and meeting with stakeholders.
The role of Product Engineer is a skilled, entry-level position. Most employers typically want candidates who possess at least a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. The next step up the career ladder for a Product Engineer is Senior Product Engineer, which entails supervising and mentoring a team of Product Engineers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that demand for Mechanical Engineers, which includes Product Engineers, is set to rise 5 percent through 2024.
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Product Engineer Duties and Responsibilities
Manage the Design of Products and Processes
Create and Test Product Prototypes
Select Materials for Product Manufacturing
Collaborate with Product Development Teams
Ensure Manufacturing is up to Specifications and Safety Standards
Product Engineer Skills
It is easy to assume that the role of Product Engineer is all about technical skills. While having a high degree of technical skill is important, being a Product Engineer also requires several soft skills. Product Engineers are almost always part of a team, so they may be able to thrive in a collaborative environment. Product Engineers also must be proficient multi-taskers to ensure all aspects of engineering a product are addressed. We analyzed several job descriptions to compile the following list of core skills required by most employers, as well as some advanced skills that will impress employers.
Core skills The following are core skills you should work on acquiring if you want to be a Product Engineer.
- Proficiency in CAD software
- Proficiency in CAM software
- Proficiency in mathematics
- Critical thinking skills
- Ability to multitask
- Ability to work in a team
- Decision making skills
- Analytical skills
Advanced Skills Here are a few advanced skills listed as preferred by several employers.
- Expertise in CAD and CAM software
- Ability to explain complex technical concepts to non-technical team members
- Ability and desire to assume a leadership role
Tools of the Trade Product Engineers use several tools while performing their duties and responsibilities. Here is a list of tools you should familiarize yourself with if you want a job as a Product Engineer
- Coordinate measuring machines
- Analytical software, such as Blue Ridge Numerics CFDesign
- Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, such as Bentley MicroStation
- Computer Aided Manufacturing software, such as
- CadCam Unigraphics
- Graphic illustrator software, such as Adobe Illustrator
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Product Engineer Salary
Product Engineer Resources
Do you think a career as a Product Engineer is right for you? Check out the following additional resources to learn more about the field before making your decision.
On the WebEDN.com
Electronics Design News got its start as a paper publication over 60 years ago. They have since become an extensive digital resource covering all things product design. They have enough archived articles and resources to keep you reading for days.EETimes.com
This is another publication in the engineering space that covers almost every topic, which includes Product Engineering. it is a great resource for an aspiring Product Engineer.DesignNews.com
Design News is a thriving hub for those in the Design Engineering community. In addition to articles that are updated daily, they have monthly webinars on various aspects of Product Design.
Industry GroupsThe American Society of Mechanical Engineers
This is one of the most prominent professional organizations for Mechanical Engineers. Although more of a general organization, there are plenty Product Engineers amongst their ranks.IEEE Product Safety Engineering Society
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has a suborganization that is all about Product Safety Engineering, which is a good topic for Product Engineers to be familiar with.
BooksReflections of a Product Engineer
Written by Lawrie McIntosh, this book is a professional Product Engineer’s ruminations on the philosophies of Product Engineering.The Design of Everyday Things
Written by Donald A. Norman, this book discusses design principles using objects we use every day. It’s a great read for aspiring Product Engineers looking to gain an understanding of design philosophy.