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Become A Principal Design Engineer

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Working As A Principal Design Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $108,539

    Average Salary

What Does A Principal Design Engineer Do

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, or power generation equipment. Electrical engineers also design the electrical systems of automobiles and aircraft.

Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems, from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPSs). Many also work in areas closely related to computer hardware.

Duties

Electrical engineers typically do the following:

  • Design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products
  • Perform detailed calculations to develop manufacturing, construction, and installation standards and specifications
  • Direct the manufacture, installation, and testing of electrical equipment to ensure that products meet specifications and codes
  • Investigate complaints from customers or the public, evaluate problems, and recommend solutions
  • Work with project managers on production efforts to ensure that projects are completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget

Electronics engineers typically do the following:

  • Design electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, or scientific applications
  • Analyze customer needs and determine the requirements, capacity, and cost for developing an electrical system plan
  • Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment
  • Evaluate systems and recommend design modifications or equipment repair
  • Inspect electronic equipment, instruments, and systems to make sure that they meet safety standards and applicable regulations
  • Plan and develop applications and modifications for electronic properties used in parts and systems in order to improve technical performance

Electronics engineers who work for the federal government research, develop, and evaluate electronic devices used in a variety of areas, such as aviation, computing, transportation, and manufacturing. They work on federal electronic devices and systems, including satellites, flight systems, radar and sonar systems, and communications systems.

The work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is often similar. Both use engineering and design software and equipment to do engineering tasks. Both types of engineers also must work with other engineers to discuss existing products and possibilities for engineering projects.

Engineers whose work is related exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers.

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How To Become A Principal Design Engineer

Electrical and electronics engineers must have a bachelor’s degree. Employers also value practical experience, so participation in cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn academic credit for structured work experience. Having a Professional Engineer (PE) license may improve an engineer’s chances of finding employment.

Education

High school students interested in studying electrical or electronics engineering benefit from taking courses in physics and mathematics, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting are also helpful, because electrical and electronics engineers often are required to prepare technical drawings.

In order to enter the occupation, prospective electrical and electronics engineers need a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or electrical engineering technology. Programs include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. Courses include digital systems design, differential equations, and electrical circuit theory. Programs in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or electrical engineering technology should be accredited by ABET.

Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education. Cooperative programs combine classroom study with practical work. Internships provide similar experience and are growing in number.

At some universities, students can enroll in a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as an instructor at some universities, or in research and development.

Important Qualities

Concentration. Electrical and electronics engineers design and develop complex electrical systems and electronic components and products. They must be able to keep track of multiple design elements and technical characteristics when performing these tasks.

Initiative. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to apply their knowledge to new tasks in every project they undertake. In addition, they must engage in continuing education to keep up with changes in technology.

Interpersonal skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to work with others during the manufacturing process to ensure that their plans are implemented correctly. This collaboration includes monitoring technicians and devising remedies to problems as they arise.

Math skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to use the principles of calculus and other advanced math in order to analyze, design, and troubleshoot equipment.

Speaking skills. Electrical and electronics engineers work closely with other engineers and technicians. They must be able to explain their designs and reasoning clearly and to relay instructions during product development and production. They also may need to explain complex issues to customers who have little or no technical expertise.

Writing skills. Electrical and electronics engineers develop technical publications related to equipment they develop, including maintenance manuals, operation manuals, parts lists, product proposals, and design methods documents.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as electrical and electronics engineers. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam can be taken right after graduation from a college or university. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After getting work experience, EITs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education courses to keep their license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements.

Advancement

Electrical and electronic engineers may advance to supervisory positions in which they lead a team of engineers and technicians. Some may move to management positions, working as engineering or program managers. Preparation for managerial positions usually requires working under the guidance of a more experienced engineer. For more information, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

For sales work, an engineering background enables engineers to discuss a product's technical aspects and assist in product planning and use. For more information, see the profile on sales engineers.

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Principal Design Engineer jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Principal Engineer 4.7 years
Principle Engineer 4.5 years
Staff Engineer 4.3 years
Design Engineer 3.4 years
Hardware Engineer 3.3 years
Signal Engineer 2.9 years
Top Employers Before
Engineer 3.0%
Consultant 2.8%
Top Employers After
Consultant 5.7%

Principal Design Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

85.2%

Female

8.5%

Unknown

6.3%
Ethnicity

White

65.9%

Asian

20.3%

Hispanic or Latino

8.4%

Unknown

4.6%

Black or African American

0.8%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

37.5%

French

25.0%

German

12.5%

Japanese

12.5%

Chinese

12.5%
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Principal Design Engineer Education

Schools

Arizona State University

12.2%

Northeastern University

10.0%

San Jose State University

5.6%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

5.6%

Stanford University

5.6%

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

5.6%

Michigan State University

5.6%

Cornell University

5.6%

University of Florida

4.4%

North Carolina State University

4.4%

University of Illinois at Chicago

4.4%

Pennsylvania State University

4.4%

Syracuse University

3.3%

University of Missouri - Columbia

3.3%

Johns Hopkins University

3.3%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

3.3%

Texas A&M University

3.3%

University of Utah

3.3%

University of Washington

3.3%

University of Texas at Austin

3.3%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

43.4%

Computer Engineering

11.1%

Mechanical Engineering

10.8%

Engineering

6.1%

Business

4.3%

Drafting And Design

2.9%

Computer Science

2.9%

Management

2.5%

Civil Engineering

2.2%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.8%

Computer Networking

1.8%

Physics

1.8%

Biomedical Engineering

1.4%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.4%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.1%

Industrial Engineering

1.1%

Marketing

1.1%

Education

1.1%

Psychology

0.7%

Engineering Technology

0.7%
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Degrees

Masters

38.2%

Bachelors

33.5%

Other

14.2%

Doctorate

8.3%

Associate

3.1%

Certificate

2.2%

Diploma

0.6%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Principal Design Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Principal Rfic Design Engineer Morfis Semiconductor, Inc. Irvine, CA Jun 29, 2016 $220,000
Principal Rfic Design Engineer Morfis Semiconductor, Inc. Irvine, CA Mar 28, 2016 $220,000
Principal Design Engineer Volant Holding, LLC New York, NY Sep 14, 2015 $200,000
Principal Design Engineer Volant Holding, LLC New York, NY Jul 22, 2016 $200,000
Principal Engineer of Microprocessor Design Spreadtrum Communications USA Inc. San Jose, CA Feb 22, 2016 $180,000
Engineer, SR. Principal-IC Design Broadcom Corporation San Jose, CA Dec 07, 2015 $174,431
Principal Design Engineer Arm, Inc. Austin, TX Nov 04, 2016 $168,540
Principal Design Engineer Arm, Inc. Austin, TX Aug 18, 2015 $168,540
Engineer, SR. Principal-IC Design Broadcom Corporation Santa Clara, CA Jan 09, 2016 $167,146
Principal Design Engineer Arm, Inc. Chandler, AZ Sep 14, 2016 $166,984
Engineer, SR. Principal-IC Design Broadcom Corporation San Jose, CA Feb 22, 2016 $165,000
Engineer, Principal-IC Design Broadcom Corporation Santa Clara, CA Apr 29, 2016 $165,000
Engineer, SR. Principal-IC Design Broadcom Corporation Santa Clara, CA Nov 28, 2015 $164,047
Engineer, SR. Principal-IC Design Broadcom Corporation San Diego, CA Jan 09, 2016 $163,506
Engineer, Senior Principal-IC Design Broadcom Corporation Irvine, CA Oct 14, 2015 $146,000
Principal Design Engineer Applied Micro Circuits Corporation Sunnyvale, CA Feb 05, 2015 $145,881
Engineer, Principal-Systems Design Broadcom Corporation Sunnyvale, CA Jul 03, 2016 $145,392
Engineer, Principal-IC Design Broadcom Corporation Santa Clara, CA May 05, 2016 $145,392
Engineer, Principal-IC Design Broadcom Corporation Sunnyvale, CA Mar 16, 2016 $145,392
Engineer, Principal-Systems Design Broadcom Corporation Santa Clara, CA Aug 01, 2015 $145,000
Engineer, Principal-IC Design Broadcom Corporation Irvine, CA Dec 27, 2016 $145,000
Principal Design Engineer Cadence Design Systems, Inc. San Jose, CA Nov 12, 2015 $145,000 -
$174,200
Principal Design Engineer (Technical Lead) Cypress Semiconductor Corporation Lynnwood, WA Sep 27, 2016 $134,000
Principal Design Engineer (Technical Lead) Cypress Semiconductor Corporation Lynnwood, WA Mar 21, 2016 $134,000
Principal Engineer, Systems Design & Strategy T-Mobile USA, Inc. Bellevue, WA Jun 01, 2016 $133,900
Engineer, Principal-IC Design Broadcom Corporation Irvine, CA Feb 26, 2016 $133,385
Principal Design Engineer Jabil Circuit, Inc. McLean, VA Jan 12, 2016 $133,300 -
$182,800
Principal Design Engineer Cadence Design Systems, Inc. Cary, NC Nov 01, 2016 $132,994 -
$162,630
Principal Design Engineer Cadence Design Systems, Inc. Cary, NC May 11, 2015 $132,500 -
$162,630

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Top Skills for A Principal Design Engineer

FpgaHardwareDesignAnalogCustomAsicIPRFPCBRTLXilinxModulePrincipalDesignVerilogDSPICVhdlPCEthernetCmosSram

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Top Principal Design Engineer Skills

  1. Fpga
  2. Hardware Design
  3. Analog
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Designed and build CCA and system level test futures using FPGA demo boards and Arduinos.
  • Design tasks included all phases of hardware design, board bring up, sustaining, and embedded firmware.
  • Designed analog video mixer and analog switching assemblies for A12 program.
  • Post production factory floor support and customer site support.
  • Participate in writing ASIC characterization and production test procedures.

Top Principal Design Engineer Employers

Principal Design Engineer Videos

Career Advice on becoming a Principal Manufacturing Engineer by Harry L (Full Version)

Tess Juckes - Senior Principal Design Engineer, MAHLE Powertrain

Career Advice on becoming a Manufacturing Engineer by Lloyd M (Full Version)

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