Product Development Engineer Job Description

Product development engineers manage the design, prototyping, and testing of products to ensure they meet the guidelines for standards and functionality. This job involves tasks such as sampling materials for the final product, utilizing CAD software to create designs, and determining the process guidelines for optimum functionality. This job usually takes place in an office environment and is usually a full-time job. Product development engineers should be highly experienced in 3D modeling software such as AutoCAD and SolidWorks. This job is well suited to people who can conceptualize ideas and create designs based around them. They should have excellent communication, creativity, and problem-solving skills.


Product Development Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

The type of organization a product development engineer works for will determine the exact duties they perform. Based on job listings we analyzed, a product development engineer’s responsibilities typically involve:

Designing Prototypes

The first stage of a product development engineer’s job is to produce CAD drawings which will serve as the initial concept to be developed further into the final product.

Testing Products

Product development engineers test products to evaluate any problems and estimate the cost of finding a resolution. Through tests at various stages of the design process, they can identify any areas which may cause a problem further into the production stage.

Sampling Different Materials

With materials playing such a crucial role in the final product, it’s important that product development engineers sample different materials to find which is best suited to the brief.

Analyzing Existing Processes for Improvement

Product development engineers look at existing processes and products to identify areas where they can be improved, which includes updating current documentation.

Defining Quality Control Criteria

Product development engineers develop the criteria for quality control and safety guidelines to ensure that every member of the team knows what they need to adhere to.


Product Development Engineer Skills and Qualifications

Product development engineers find innovative ways to design products and resolve any issues that arise, and are comfortable working as part of a team on group projects. Typically, employers will require a bachelor’s degree in engineering and several years’ experience, as well as the following abilities:

  • Communication skills – product development engineers need to communicate effectively with colleagues and clients, as well as clearly convey what is needed from a brief
  • Creativity – this job involves finding innovative and different ways to create and design products, so product development engineers should have a creative mindset and approach to tasks
  • Problem-solving abilities – as issues with a design arise, product development engineers need to be able to fix them and find a resolution as quickly as possible, so troubleshooting skills are a must
  • Math skills – product development engineers should have strong math skills, including calculus and statistics, to make accurate measurements and designs
  • Teamwork – product development engineers need to work professionally with colleagues and clients on group projects, so good teamworking skills are vital


Tools of the Trade

Product development engineers regularly use these tools and applicants looking to build a career in this field should have excellent knowledge of how to use them.

  • 3D Modeling Software – AutoCAD, SolidWorks
  • Report Writing Programs – Microsoft Word


Product Development Engineer Education and Training

The minimum requirement to become a product development engineer is a bachelor’s degree in engineering, along with several years of development experience. Employers often prefer candidates to have industry-specific experience which relates to the type of products they produce. Applicants should have a strong knowledge of manufacturing processes, materials, and quality assurance regulations. A master’s degree in engineering can also be advantageous and open up hiring opportunities.


Product Development Engineer Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for a product development engineer is nearly $71,000, according to PayScale. Product development engineers in the 10th percentile earn around $56,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $95,000 a year. The higher end of this pay scale includes bonuses of up to $10,000, and profit sharing opportunities of up to $8,000.

Over 90% of employers offer medical insurance as part of their benefits package, and over 80% provide dental cover. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the growth rate for mechanic engineers is expected to grow by nine percent through 2026.


Helpful Resources

We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you develop a career as a product development engineer.

Introduction to Product Design and Development for Engineers – this guide provides the best practices for design, development, and the evaluation of engineered products. The book covers the whole design process and product life-cycle, from development to sustainability.

Product Design for Engineers – a useful reference for developing key skills in product design engineering, this book explores different techniques for innovation, problem solving, and design. It includes case studies and step-by-step coverage, as well as useful illustrations.

Design News – one of the most trusted websites in the design engineering field, this site covers many topics related to design and development, from 3D design to testing and documentation.

Mechanical Design Engineers – this hugely popular LinkedIn group has over 200,000 people and numerous discussion topics such as manufacturing processes, industrial design, and legal issues. For people seeking a new opportunity in this field, it’s a perfect place to network with others in the sector and learn from people already performing this job.


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