Product development engineers are professionals who work literally to create products, ensure that they are user friendly, and contribute to marketing campaigns. Professionals in this field tend to have a high degree of technical expertise in their fields, though they also understand the real world applications of their products. In other words, product development engineers are able to design products and optimize systems of production, but they also are able to imagine how clients might use and benefit from products.
To become a product development engineer, it is essential to earn an undergraduate degree in a field such as engineering or in a discipline related to your industry of choice. An individual who wants to become a product development engineer also should have some background in fields such as management and marketing and should be an engaged member of his or her industry, attending relevant trade shows and seminars and joining professional organizations.
To become a product development engineer, it is important to gain a technical background related to your field of choice. If you are interested in food product development, for example, you can benefit from taking courses in nutrition. Individuals who would like to develop products in the software industry, on the other hand, should take courses in computer engineering. If you would like eventually to hold higher level roles in your industry, such as a senior engineer, it might be essential, especially in more competitive markets, to earn a graduate degree as well, though this might be a step you can take after you get a little professional experience.
It is important that a person who wants to become a product development engineer also understands the market in which he or she sells products, the needs and preferences of target demographics, and the behaviors of competitors. In order to gain this knowledge, a person needs to keep up with the marketing aspects of his or her industry. Taking courses in marketing certainly can be helpful, and so can reading analyses of relevant market research, though it also is important to stay engaged. Many product development engineers read trade magazines and belong to organizations where they can learn about the most cutting edge developments.
In order to become a product development engineer, it is important to be able to work in groups with other engineers. Having a basic understanding of the principles of strategic planning can be very valuable for a person who aspires to become a product development engineer. If you want to move into higher level positions, you also should get leadership or management training.