Pros and Cons of Working As a Validation Engineer
As a validation engineer, you would help make sure a business's machines and computer systems are running safely and efficiently. Read the following pros and cons to understand this career better.
|Pros of Becoming a Validation Engineer|
|Better than average pay (About $94,000 in 2014)**|
|Satisfaction of keeping people safe**|
|Opportunities to work on talented, interdisciplinary teams*|
|Cons of Becoming a Validation Engineer|
|Additional schooling may be required*|
|Low anticipated job growth (3% to 7% from 2012-2022)**|
|Many jobs require experience in specific industries*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET OnLine
Essential Career Info
Validation engineers ensure an organization's technical assets are working properly. They are often needed in manufacturing industries. Some of your job duties might include preparing protocols for equipment operation, training employees to use industrial equipment and computers, evaluating the performance of machines and performing technical inspections. You might also be in charge of investigating the causes of equipment failures and performing routine maintenance. Your daily tasks could include the following:
- Analyzing and interpreting test data
- Preparing compliance reports
- Directing validation activities
- Resolving testing problems
- Creating databases to track validation activities
- Interpreting customer requirements
- Developing validation schedules
Salary Information and Career Outlook
While O*Net Online reports that, in 2014, validation engineers earned an average annual salary of about $94,000, the BLS states that, in general, top engineers made more than $144,000 that year. O*Net Online also reported that job prospects for validation engineers were expected to increase just 3% to 7% percent from 2012-2022. Although jobs will be created by the wide range of companies who need industrial engineering services, the declining manufacturing sector will reduce some jobs.
Many potential employers require a bachelor's degree in engineering. Because validation engineers often work in manufacturing engineering departments, a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering could provide most of the skills you need. Such a degree program typically includes coursework in advanced math and science, such as calculus, physics and differential equations. Engineering-related topics may cover productivity analysis, operations research and financial operations.
The BLS states that licensure for industrial engineers isn't as common as with other engineering professions but that individuals who work with government contracts may need to become licensed. The licensing process includes graduating from an accredited program, gaining several years' work experience and passing two exams. Continuing education is often required to maintain licensure.
Perhaps the most important skill for a validation engineer is the ability to find creative solutions to complex engineering problems. For this reason, employers often prefer job candidates with excellent analytical and reasoning skills. Because validation engineers often work on interdisciplinary teams, a collaborative mindset and good communication skills may be beneficial as well.
What Employers Look For
Validation engineers may need to have industry-specific skills to get jobs. While the minimum requirement is typically a bachelor's degree, a graduate degree and some professional experience may be preferred. Take a look at the following job listings from June 2012 to get a sense of what qualifications employers are seeking:
- A Georgia firm was seeking a validation engineer for writing and executing validation protocols. This position required an individual to manage projects and collaborate with research and development. Some travel was required.
- A medical device company in Indiana was looking for a validation engineer with at least three years' experience. Potential candidates needed to understand Food and Drug Administration regulations. Knowledge of specific machines, such as polishing equipment, was preferred.
- A Pennsylvania medical technology firm was seeking a validation engineer to maintain quality control systems. Besides validation, this position also worked with supplier management, manufacturing support and new products. Requirements for this position included at least three years as a quality engineer and experience in the medical equipment industry. Quality certification was preferred.
How To Beat the Competition
Joining a professional organization can sometimes increase your chances of success or help you secure a promotion. For example, you could join the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), which offers engineering awards and networking opportunities through fellowships and conferences. Depending on where you are in your career, there are different levels of membership in the ASEE.
You may consider professional certifications through Six Sigma or the American Society for Quality (ASQ). Both of these organizations offer different levels of certification depending on factors like education and experience. The ASQ offers many industry-specific certifications. To earn these certifications, you typically have to pass an exam.
You may consider earning a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) degree. Some engineering positions may require graduate education. Master's degree programs could offer opportunities to conduct advanced research with experienced engineers. These programs typically take two years to complete.
Industrial Engineering Technician
If you want to work in the engineering field but don't want to complete the educational requirements, you may consider working as an industrial engineering technician. These professionals assist industrial engineers by carrying out their designs and performing tasks like preparing layouts and analyzing equipment costs. You can get this job with just an associate's degree. In May 2011, the BLS reported that industrial engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of $49,000.
If you have experience as an engineer, you may consider an engineering manager position. These individuals organize the activities and projects of other engineers, helping them to meet deadlines and stay within budgets. The BLS estimates that employment opportunities in this area are expected to increase nine percent from 2010-2020. In May 2011, the BLS stated that the median annual wage for engineering and architectural managers was about $122,000.