Becoming a Device Engineer: Job Description & Salary Information

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The median salary for device engineers was between about $83,060 and $91,410 per year as of May 2014. Is it worth the educational requirements? Read on to learn about job duties and career prospects to see if this job is right for you.
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What Are the Pros and Cons of a Device Engineering Career?

Device engineering is a career you can secure with a number of different degrees, including a bachelor's degree in either mechanical or electrical engineering. The following are some of the pros and cons of working as a device engineer.

Pros of Becoming a Device Engineer
Above-average pay (median annual salary of about $83,060 for mechanical engineers and $91,410 for electrical engineers in 2014)*
Can often get these jobs with a bachelor's degree*
Opportunity to work on lots of different technical devices*
Good job prospects in some industries (engineering, alternative energies and remanufacturing)*

Cons of Becoming a Device Engineer
Slower than average job growth (5% for mechanical engineers and 4% for electrical engineers from 2012-2022)*
Can work long hours*
An advanced degree may be required*
Possibility of exposure to hazardous equipment*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Info

Job Duties

Job duties for device engineers can vary from job to job, but the primary responsibility is usually designing and testing electronic devices. You may also be in charge of gathering and analyzing data on device performance. You could work in industries like medical technology, communications equipment or GPS technology. Device engineers might collaborate with other engineers, design professionals, technical writers or electricians to create products that meet specific requirements.

Your daily job duties could include providing technical and training support for electronic devices, planning design projects, designing electronic circuits, taking measurements and analyzing data. You could also be tasked with analyzing electrical system capacity, inspecting electronic equipment, making modifications to electrical components or calculating the cost of engineering projects.

Salary and Job Prospects

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not record salary data for device engineers specifically, but it does record data for electrical engineers and mechanical engineers, two backgrounds valued in device engineering positions. As of May 2014, electrical engineers earned a median annual salary of about $91,410 per year; the top 10% of professionals in this field earned more than $143,200 annually, while the lowest 10% made $59,140 or less each year. Mechanical engineers earned approximately $83,060 per year during the same time, with the top ten percent of professionals earning upwards of $126,430 and the bottom ten percent earning $53,210 or less, according to the BLS.

From 2012-2022, the BLS stated that both mechanical and electrical engineers were expected to see slower-than-average job growth. This slow growth can be attributed to an overall decline in manufacturing, and to the delegation of some engineering responsibilities to engineering technicians.

Requirements

Education and Skills

Entry-level engineering positions typically require at least a bachelor's degree. Engineering programs at the undergraduate level are available in both mechanical and electrical engineering. Chemical engineering programs may also qualify you for some device engineering positions. You may find that biomedical engineering programs can prepare you to work in the field of medical device engineering, which could include devices like pacemakers and artificial organs. Master's and doctoral degree programs are also available in mechanical, electrical and biomedical engineering and may be preferred or required by some employers. Master's degree programs are also available in medical device engineering.

In addition to education, engineers are typically required to hold a universal set of skills that are necessary to perform the tasks that the job requires. Engineers must typically possess good mechanical, communication, mathematical, listening and problem-solving skills. They may also need to work well in a team and apply creativity to some projects.

Licensure

Engineers that offer their services directly to the public are required to hold licensure in all states. According to the BLS, electrical engineers may not be expected to hold licensure as much as other types of engineers. To earn this licensure, you must hold at least a 4-year degree from an institution accredited by the ABET and at least four years of work experience. You will also need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.

Job Postings

You can find open device engineering positions in lots of different industries. Because of this, some employers prefer candidates with experience in particular industries, manufacturing processes or electrical systems. The following are examples of real job postings to give you an idea of what employers may be looking for.

  • A company in North Carolina wants an device engineer who is knowledgeable about plastic injection, device assembly, device testing and change management. You need a bachelor's degree and knowledge of root cause analysis to get this job.
  • A well-known chip manufacturer in Oregon seeks a device engineer with a strong background in electromagnetic theory. You must have a doctoral degree to get this job as well as experience working with microwave measurements.
  • A technology firm in California wants a device engineer who knows about C++ programming languages and embedded software development. This position requires five or more years of experience and a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering, although a master's degree is preferred.

How to Stand Out

One way to stand out is to earn an advanced degree. According to the BLS, a master's degree can offer you advanced hands-on experience, which may be valued by some employers. These more advanced degrees might also open up a broader variety of job opportunities in fields like research or education. Additionally, while PE licensure is not always required, the BLS reports that it may be advantageous when it comes to applying for jobs.

Alternative Careers

Electronics Engineering Technician

If you want to work in engineering but aren't interested in the amount of education necessary to become a device engineer, you could consider pursuing a career as an electronics engineering technician. You can get this job with an associate's degree only, and these professionals earned a median annual salary of $57,000 in 2011, according to the BLS.

Biomedical Engineer

If you are discouraged by the slower-than-average job growth in electronics engineering, you could consider pursuing a career as a biomedical engineer. This field is expected to experience an employment growth rate of 62% between 2010 and 2020, which is the fastest for all engineering occupations. Employment in this field typically requires only a bachelor's degree, and these professionals earned a median annual salary of about $85,000 in 2011, according to the BLS.

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University of Delaware

  • Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Engineering Technology

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Universal Technical Institute

  • Diesel Technology
  • Automotive Technology
  • NASCAR Technology

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Lincoln Tech

  • Electrical/Electronics

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Colorado Technical University

  • MS - Computer Science - Software Engineering
  • MS - Systems Engineering
  • BS - IT - Software Systems Engineering

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Herzing University

  • B.S. - Software Development With No Declared Minor or Concentration
  • B.S. - Software Development: Computer Programming Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Software Development

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Northcentral University

  • PhD Technology and Innovation Management Engineering Management
  • PhD in Business Admin - Management of Engineering and Technology
  • MS Technology and Innovation Management Engineering Management
  • MBA - Management of Engineering and Technology

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