Product Engineer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Product Engineer, or Product Design Engineer, is responsible for evaluating a company’s product needs and developing products that reflect their brand or customer base. Their duties include brainstorming product ideas and material needs with the production or sales teams, designing product blueprints using CAD programs and overseeing the manufacturing process for products.

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Product Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

Product Engineers use problem-solving and project management skills to move the concept of a product into the design and manufacturing of that product. Specifically, Product Engineers have the following responsibilities:

  • Use Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs to create product concepts
  • Gather materials or resources needed to design the product
  • Test the product for usability and safety
  • Oversee the manufacturing and production process to set standards
  • Evaluate and test the market for demand
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What Does a Product Engineer Do?

Product Engineers typically work for corporations across industries to ensure the creation of quality products. They work closely with manufacturing professionals to effectively create products using assembly teams and manufacturing equipment. Their job is to research the best materials to use for a product and consult with other Product Engineers to develop and test prototypes. They may also be responsible for addressing product defects and using consumer feedback to refine product designs.

Product Engineer Skills and Qualifications

Product Engineers must have certain prerequisite skills and qualifications, including:

  • Problem-solving: A Product Engineer identifies problems during the manufacturing process and devises solutions to improve the product’s safety and usability.
  • Decision making: A Product Engineer analyzes information and makes informed decisions as quickly as possible.
  • Communication: Product Engineers work closely with designers, marketing managers, department managers and other designers, so good written and verbal communication skills are a must.
  • Teamwork: Product Engineers work collaboratively with other team members, using skills in negotiation and compromise to complete the design and manufacture of a product.

Product Engineer Salary Expectations

The average yearly salary for a Product Engineer is $84,524. Product Engineer salaries may range between $33,000 and $158,000 per year depending on location, industry and experience level. Product Engineers who lead a team of designers and developers for a large company can expect to earn more than an entry-level Product Engineer who works for a smaller organization as a team member.

Product Engineer Education and Training Requirements

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is often required, and a master’s degree is typically preferred, to work as a Product Engineer. Qualified candidates will usually have a degree in engineering with coursework in product engineering. Some Product Engineers may specialize in a certain type of product, such as technology, aerospace, industrial or mechanical. Engineering students will begin training through an internship in their college program.

Certification is not a requirement to work as a Product Engineer, but some hiring managers prefer it. The Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfge) is a certification for Product Engineers working in the manufacturing industry. The Certified Reliability Engineer (CRE) certification is relevant to the applied technology industry.

Product Engineer Experience Requirements

Many hiring managers prefer to hire a Product Engineer with previous experience. Some may choose to hire an engineer with internship experience, whereas other hiring managers may prefer candidates to have specialized product engineering experience in their specific industry. The size of the company and the design team can also dictate the expected experience requirements of the position. Some hiring managers may choose to hire entry-level Product Engineers to work closely with an experienced Product Engineer.

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Frequently asked questions about Product Engineers


What is the difference between a Product Engineer and a Software Engineer?

Both Product Engineers and Software Engineers create products for their employers. However, they specialize in creating different types of products due to their educational backgrounds. For example, Product Engineers usually have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. This qualifies them to use CAD programs to develop blueprints, determine materials to use and test prototypes before manufacturing. 

In contrast, Software Engineers have a bachelor’s degree in either software engineering, computer programming or computer science. Using their knowledge of coding languages, Software Engineers develop internal programs for company use or software applications to sell to consumers.


What are the daily duties of a Product Engineer?

On a typical day, a Product Engineer starts by reviewing upcoming deadline dates for specific tasks or projects. They also use this time to check their email and voicemail for any missed messages. Throughout the day, they meet with members of the customer service, sales and product development teams to discuss existing company products and customer feedback. 

In between meetings, Product Engineers work with their team to design blueprints, assemble prototypes and test product features. Product Engineers may also devote a portion of their workday to traveling to manufacturing sites and speaking with plant personnel about manufacturing a specific product.


What makes a good Product Engineer?

A good Product Engineer has an innovative mindset, which motivates them to come up with unique product ideas based on their employer’s vision. They value continued education and pursue certification programs and company training sessions to enhance their capabilities as a Product Engineer. Further, a good Product Engineer works well with others. This quality allows them to support the ideas of other Product Engineers and complete their role to the best of their ability. A good Product Engineer also knows how to manage their time well to complete a project within a set deadline.


Who does a Product Engineer report to?

Product Engineers usually report to a Product Manager within the product development department. The Product Manager oversees a team of Product Engineers, sets their budget for particular projects and provides them with suggestions about designing certain products. Product Engineers may also report indirectly to the Sales Department Manager and Customer Service Managers to receive customer feedback and review sales data for a particular product.

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