Career Development

What Does a Product Engineer Do?

Find out what a product engineer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a product engineer.

Product engineers are responsible for the design and development of new products. They work with a variety of different stakeholders—including marketing teams, designers, suppliers, etc.—to create something that meets the needs of consumers.

Product engineers may specialize in one area or many areas. Some focus on industrial design, while others focus on software development or other technical aspects of product creation. Regardless of their specialty, they all have one thing in common: they’re tasked with creating something new that people want to buy.

Product Engineer Job Duties

A product engineer typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Developing new products based on market trends and customer feedback, then communicating them to the appropriate members of the team for production or marketing
  • Creating functional prototypes of new products using computer-aided design software (CAD)
  • Conducting market research on competitors’ products to identify opportunities for improvement
  • Designing manufacturing processes for new products, including selecting materials and equipment based on factors such as strength, weight, cost, and sustainability
  • Working with a team to design new products based on market trends, customer feedback, and engineering requirements
  • Testing prototypes to ensure they meet safety standards and perform as intended
  • Developing production plans for mass manufacturing of new products, including creating assembly instructions and estimating costs
  • Evaluating new materials and processes to determine their potential applications in existing products
  • Communicating with suppliers regarding product specifications and purchase orders to ensure high quality standards are met

Product Engineer Salary & Outlook

The salary of a product engineer can vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the company they work for. Product engineers who work in the automotive industry typically earn more than those who work in other industries.

  • Median Annual Salary: $90,231 ($43.38/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $135,000 ($64.9/hour)

The employment of product engineers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Demand for product engineers will stem from the need to improve the quality and performance of existing products and to develop new products that can be produced more efficiently. In addition, demand for product engineers will come from the need to design products that are more user-friendly and cost less to produce.

Product Engineer Job Requirements

A product engineer typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most product engineers have at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, manufacturing, industrial engineering or a related field. Some employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in engineering or a related field.

Training & Experience: Most of an product engineer’s training will take place while obtaining their education. Students will learn the fundamentals of engineering while completing their bachelor’s or master’s degree. They will also receive on-the-job training while working for their employer. This training will teach them the specific skills and procedures the company uses.

Certifications & Licenses: Though not required, product engineer candidates can demonstrate their competency and increase their earning potential by earning certifications.

Product Engineer Skills

Product engineers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Technical skills are the foundation of product engineering and are necessary for performing your job duties. Technical skills can include knowledge of computer programs, software and hardware. It can also include knowledge of engineering principles, mathematics and other technical skills that are necessary for your job.

Communication skills: As a product engineer, you need to be able to communicate with your team and other stakeholders. You need to be able to convey your ideas and suggestions to your team and explain the reasoning behind your decisions. You also need to be able to listen to feedback from your team and others and be able to respond to their questions and concerns.

Problem-solving skills: Problem-solving skills are necessary for product engineers to have. They use these skills to identify and resolve issues with the products they develop. For example, if a product has a flaw or doesn’t function properly, product engineers use their problem-solving skills to identify the issue and find a solution.

Critical thinking skills: Critical thinking skills allow product engineers to make informed decisions about their work. They can use these skills to find solutions to problems, improve processes and develop new products.

Project management: Project management skills can be helpful for product engineers, especially if they work on large projects. As a product engineer, you may be responsible for overseeing the production of a new product. This can include managing the project’s timeline, budget and team.

Product Engineer Work Environment

Product engineers work in a variety of settings, including office buildings, factories, and research and development laboratories. They may spend time in all of these settings, or they may be assigned to work primarily in one location. Many product engineers work a standard 40-hour week, although some may work more than 50 hours per week to meet deadlines or solve problems. Product engineers may be required to work evenings or weekends on occasion to attend meetings or to complete projects. They may also travel to attend conferences or to visit suppliers or customers.

Product Engineer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how product engineers work. Product engineers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Technical Product Managers

As technology becomes more complex, the need for product engineers who are also technical product managers will increase. This is because they will be responsible for overseeing the entire product development process, from concept to launch.

Product engineers who are able to manage this process will be in high demand, as companies look for ways to streamline their product development process and get products to market faster. In order to be successful in this role, product engineers will need to be able to communicate effectively with both technical and non-technical team members.

The Importance of Being a Jack or Jill of All Trades

In today’s economy, businesses are looking for employees who can do more than just one thing. They want employees who are versatile and can work on a variety of projects simultaneously.

This trend is especially true for product engineers, who are often asked to work on multiple projects at once. As a result, product engineers need to be able to quickly learn new skills and adapt to changing circumstances.

More Focus on User Experience (UX) Design

User experience design has become an increasingly important part of product engineering over the past few years. This is due to the fact that users are becoming more demanding and expect products to be easy to use and visually appealing.

As user experience design becomes more important, product engineers will need to develop skills in this area in order to create products that meet the needs of users.

How to Become a Product Engineer

A career as an engineer is a great choice for people who are interested in working with their hands and solving problems. It can also be a good fit for people who want to work in a field that’s constantly changing and evolving. As an engineer, you’ll have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects in different industries. You may even get to travel and see the world while doing your job.

To become an engineer, you’ll need to earn a degree in engineering or engineering technology. There are many different specializations within engineering, so you can choose a field that interests you.

Related: How to Write a Product Engineer Resume

Advancement Prospects

Product engineers typically advance by taking on more responsibility within their organization. As they gain experience, they may be given the opportunity to lead product development teams or work on larger and more complex projects. In some cases, product engineers may also advance by moving into management roles or starting their own engineering consulting firm.

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