Product engineering involves participation in the development, design and testing of new products. To become a product test engineer, a person needs to meet specific personal and educational requirements. Among these are well-developed skills in math and science, the ability to analyze and problem-solve and prior experience successfully working on a team. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is typically required for many entry-level jobs in product testing.
One of the first steps necessary to become a product test engineer is to increase one’s aptitude with math and science. For younger persons, this foundation can be established with select high school courses. Older persons looking to switch careers or increase their employability can take refresher courses at a community college or local job center.
In college, the courses necessary to become a product test engineer become more focused. Students normally use this time to decide upon an area of specialization. As many different companies utilize test engineering in product development, product test engineers have multiple options available to them. Electrical, software, computer and mechanical engineering are but some specialization examples.
In addition to math and science concepts, product test engineers commonly face issues of cost, quality, performance, friendliness of user features and ease of production. Thus, these individuals commonly need basic drawing and design skills and proficiency with multiple computer applications. A math or physical science degree may be sufficient for entry-level positions, but a specialized engineering degree is likely to provide more employment opportunities.
Fulfilling specific educational requirements is only part of the equation for persons who want to become product test engineers. Job shadowing and internship positions may help provide additional insight into a person’s chosen field and also add to his or her skill set. Common job duties, customer relations and interaction with team members can further be explored during internships. These are, ultimately, a viable way to gain experience and increase job-related confidence.
After college, a person who wants to become a product test engineer should have a portfolio of school projects relative to their chosen field. Those projects often demonstrate how an existing product, such as a digital camera, was theoretically improved while project requirements were met. Examples of group participation and team work should also be included in one’s portfolio.
An aspiring product test engineer may elect to join one or more professional organizations as well. These can offer valuable opportunities to network and stay abreast of current industry developments. Such membership can also improve one’s professional credibility with an employer.