CAREER PATHS / JUN. 10, 2014
version 10, draft 10

How to Become a Design Engineer

design engineer

Releasing new products, building new structures, and improving IT; all start with a design idea. A lot of planning goes into a polished design. Research, testing, and creating are some of the words that come to mind.

Are you always coming up with innovative ideas? Are you a master at problem solving? If so, you may be interested in starting a career as a design engineer.

What Does a Design Engineer Do?

Working as a design engineer may involve electronics, or it may involve cars. The industry that design engineers work within varies. Basically, they're responsible for researching, and implementing new ideas. Details would vary from industry, to industry. With that being said, there are similarities across the spectrum.

  • Research is a large component. You need to find out whether or not new developments would work. As well, you need to figure out if the developments are cost effective. This will involve math skills, and mathematical modelling.
  • What is a design engineer without design? As a design engineer, you would turn your research into a plan. This would involve engineering software, and computer based design.
  • Test your prototypes. This is where you'll collect date.
  • Once you have analysed the data, you may begin to modify your design.
  • Reporting progress to managers or clients.
  • Most of your time will be spent in front of a computer. 

Computer-Aided Design Software (CAD)

The main software that you will be using as a design engineer is CAD. It created many advantages throughout modern engineering. It is widely used when designing and creating products for consumers. There are many benefits to using CAD, including:

  • Ability to draw digital designs: Everything used to be drawn by hand. This took longer, and was also harder to correct when mistakes were made. CAD allows design enginners to draft and design with a high level of flexibility. This has made designing products faster, and easier. 
  • Projects are easily shared amongst team members and mangement. This makes projects run a lot smoother, maximizing productivity. 
  • CAD resources have created a virtual library for designers. 

If you are interested in learning more about CAD, there are various resources available. Learn how to use CAD, and you will already be ahead of the game. 

Educational Background

You will need to obtain a degree to become a design engineer. Within your degree, you may take courses such as:

  • Engineering product design
  • Materials science
  • Industrial design
  • Computer-aided design

If you contact the Institution of Engineering Designers, or the Institution of Engineering and Technology, they will provide all the details regarding recognised courses.

Income

Skill Level Income
First starting as a design engineer Between £20,000 and £25,000 per year.
Experienced design engineer Between £26,000 and £45,000 per year.
Senior design engineer Over £50,000 per year.

These values are simply a guideline. Income varies depending on numerous factors. The industry you work in may affect your income. Making advances in software will be highly paid for instance. It really depends on the projects you're a part of, and what you're accomplishing. 

Career Development

  • Once you dive into the world of design engineering, you will more than likely work as a graduate trainee.  This will allow you to train with more experienced individuals. 
  • Maintaining and improving your skill is important. You can update your knowledge by participating in a programme of continuing professional development. You may find information through the Institution of Engineering Designers.
  • You can work towards incorporated status. You will need to register, and apply to the Engineering Council. 
  • Once you're an incorporated engineer, you would manage engineering operations.

Finding Work as a Design Engineer

You may look into a number of resource including; job firms, contacting employers directly, and recruitment agencies. 

When it comes to engineering positions within the UK; The Engineer is a great resource. They specialise in engineering positions, and will find a job that fits your needs. Whether you're looking for a design engineer position in London, or part-time work; they will assist you with your search. 

UK Job Market: Potential Positions in Your Area 

The following are examples of design engineer positions across the UK. These will give you a basic idea of what is available. 

Position Location Income
Mechanical Design Engineer Havant £32,000-£35,000 per year
Mechanical Design Engineer Chester £45,000 per year
Steam Drains Design Engineer Barrow-In-Furness £45.47 per hour
Senior Mechanical Design Engineer Telford, Birmingham Stafford, Stoke-On-Trent, Shrewsbury £35,000-£40,000 per year
Graduate Mechanical Design Engineer Leeds £18,000-£21,000 per year

For more design engineer opportunities in your area, please visit jobsite. 

If you love to generate ideas, then design engineering may be for you. You will need to be a great problem solver, with excellent communication skills Since most of your time will be on the computer, you should have a thorough understanding of computer design. You may be naturally gifted with computers, or you may learn throughout your educational journey. Focus on an area that interests you. Your innovative mind will allow you to create, acting on your ideas. Start your creative career today, you may design the next big thing! 

Photo credit: Flickr

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