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What Is a Design Engineer and How to Become One

What Is a Design Engineer?

Design engineers develop ideas for new products and determine ways to improve existing products. As a design engineer, you put a creative perspective on your technical engineering knowledge to perform your job duties, which include creating sketches of design ideas and using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software to generate plans for prototypes. To ensure the product is viable, you also evaluate other aspects of the product design, such as safety, cost, sustainability, aesthetics, and user experience. You collaborate with a team of technicians and other engineers to run tests, troubleshoot problems, and ultimately produce a newly designed product.

How to Become a Design Engineer

To become a design engineer, you need a bachelor’s degree in engineering design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, or civil engineering. Acquire an internship working with a design engineer to gain valuable insight and work experience. Earn an entry-level engineering position and work on project designs in your spare time to build a portfolio. Once you have several years of work experience, pursue a job as a design engineer.

Where Do Design Engineers Work?

Design engineers work across all industries that create and design products. Your work as a design engineer is beneficial to industries that rely on positive consumer perception to continue to sell their products. Some sectors that hire design engineers include technology firms, production and manufacturing plants, building services and construction companies, and research organizations. Transportation companies, such as aerospace, automobile, railway, and shipbuilding facilities, usually have design engineers on staff as well. You may choose to work as an employee of a company, or you may work as an independent contractor and offer your services to multiple organizations.

How to Be a Good Design Engineer

To be a good design engineer, you need in-depth knowledge of engineering and design principles, a solid understanding of materials science and the qualities of materials such as metals and industrial plastics, and expertise in manufacturing mechanisms and production processes. To succeed in this career, be sure to consider the real-world capabilities and limitations of your designs. Your work as a design engineer requires a lot of collaboration with technicians and other engineers, so excellent interpersonal and teamwork skills are essential.

Design Engineer Job Description Sample

With this Design Engineer job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Design Engineer role.

Job Summary

We are seeking a detail-oriented, experienced, and organized design engineer to join our growing team. In this position, you will research and develop new ideas and prototypes to create and build for our company. You will create plans and blueprints, collaborate with key suppliers, and oversee the manufacturing of prototypes and final building. You will also be responsible for improving the performance and efficiency of existing systems and products.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Draw and create blueprints and other schematics needed
  • Create test prototypes
  • Make recommendations to improve production efficiency
  • Develop and implement design strategies
  • Collaborate with other engineers, managers, and creative team
  • Estimate and establish cost parameters and budgets for design
  • Research and track prototype performance and reactions
  • Prepare documentation, such as testing protocols and manuals
  • Organize plans and create schedules
  • Review and oversee the manufacturing of designs

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree in design engineering, engineering, product design, industrial design, or related field; master's degree in engineering or related field preferred
  • 3-5 years’ previous experience in a similar role
  • Proficient computer skills, including Microsoft Office Suite
  • Strong aptitude for creating detailed blueprints and instructions
  • Ability to multitask, prioritize, and manage time efficiently
  • Accurate and precise attention to detail
  • Creative and innovative thinker and planner