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Become A Research Engineer

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Working As A Research Engineer

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

  • Make Decisions

  • $83,430

    Average Salary

What Does A Research Engineer Do

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines.

Duties

Mechanical engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze problems to see how mechanical and thermal devices might help solve a particular problem
  • Design or redesign mechanical and thermal devices or subsystems, using analysis and computer-aided design
  • Develop and test prototypes of devices they design
  • Analyze the test results and change the design or system as needed
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for the device

Mechanical engineers design and oversee the manufacture of many products ranging from medical devices to new batteries.

Mechanical engineers design power-producing machines, such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines, as well as power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.

Mechanical engineers design other machines inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators. They also design material-handling systems, such as conveyor systems and automated transfer stations.

Like other engineers, mechanical engineers use computers extensively. Mechanical engineers are routinely responsible for the integration of sensors, controllers, and machinery. Computer technology helps mechanical engineers create and analyze designs, run simulations and test how a machine is likely to work, interact with connected systems, and generate specifications for parts.

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How To Become A Research Engineer

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Mechanical engineers who sell services publicly must be licensed in all states and the District of Columbia.

Education

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Mechanical engineering programs usually include courses in mathematics and life and physical sciences, as well as engineering and design courses. Mechanical engineering technology programs focus less on theory and more on the practical application of engineering principles. They may emphasize internships and co-ops to prepare students for work in industry.

Some colleges and universities offer 5-year programs that allow students to obtain both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Some 5-year or even 6-year cooperative plans combine classroom study with practical work, enabling students to gain valuable experience and earn money to finance part of their education.

ABET accredits programs in engineering and engineering technology. Most employers prefer to hire students from an accredited program. A degree from an ABET-accredited program is usually necessary to become a licensed professional engineer.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Mechanical engineers design and build complex pieces of equipment and machinery. A creative mind is essential for this kind of work.

Listening skills. Mechanical engineers often work on projects with others, such as architects and computer scientists. They must listen to and analyze different approaches made by other experts to complete the task at hand.

Math skills. Mechanical engineers use the principles of calculus, statistics, and other advanced subjects in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Mechanical skills. Mechanical skills allow engineers to apply basic engineering concepts and mechanical processes to the design of new devices and systems.

Problem-solving skills. Mechanical engineers need good problem-solving skills to take scientific discoveries and use them to design and build useful products.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a mechanical engineer. 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, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education to renew their licenses every year. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the other state’s licensing requirements meet or exceed their own licensing requirements.

Several professional organizations offer a variety of certification programs for engineers to demonstrate competency in specific fields of mechanical engineering.

Advancement

A Ph.D. is essential for engineering faculty positions in higher education, as well as for some research and development programs. Mechanical engineers may earn graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology, broaden their education, and enhance their project management skills. Mechanical engineers may become administrators or managers after obtaining the requisite experience.

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Research Engineer Career Paths

Research Engineer
Product Development Engineer Mechanical Engineer Application Engineer
Applications Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Project Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Product Development Engineer Project Engineer Senior Process Engineer
Engineering Group Leader
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Lead Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Operations Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Application Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Manufacturing Engineer Product Engineer Product Engineering Manager
Global Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Staff Engineer Project Engineering Manager
Lead Engineer And Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Senior Engineer Section Manager
Manager Of Engineering Department
7 Yearsyrs
Engineer Engineering Manager Plant Manager
Manufacturing Director
14 Yearsyrs
Engineer Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Project Engineer Senior Process Engineer
Process Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Engineer Process Engineer Product Engineer
Product Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Project Manager Product Manager
Product Line Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Senior Scientist Research And Development Manager
Research And Development Director
12 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Chief Engineer Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Principal Engineer 4.7 years
Staff Engineer 4.3 years
Engineer 3.2 years
Research Engineer 3.0 years
Research Associate 2.6 years
Top Careers Before Research Engineer
Internship 9.8%
Engineer 4.5%
Researcher 3.2%
Consultant 2.0%
Top Careers After Research Engineer
Engineer 5.9%
Consultant 5.6%

Do you work as a Research Engineer?

Research Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

71.1%

Female

17.2%

Unknown

11.7%
Ethnicity

White

46.1%

Asian

27.6%

Hispanic or Latino

11.6%

Black or African American

8.6%

Unknown

6.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

25.5%

French

13.4%

Chinese

11.6%

German

8.1%

Mandarin

6.7%

Italian

4.8%

Korean

3.8%

Japanese

3.8%

Arabic

3.2%

Russian

3.0%

Hindi

2.7%

Carrier

2.7%

Portuguese

2.4%

Cantonese

2.2%

Persian

1.3%

Swedish

1.1%

Turkish

1.1%

Polish

1.1%

Romanian

0.8%

Urdu

0.8%
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Research Engineer Education

Schools

Georgia Institute of Technology -

10.3%

Pennsylvania State University

6.7%

University of Texas at Austin

5.9%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

5.9%

Texas A&M University

5.7%

University of Florida

5.2%

Drexel University

5.2%

Purdue University

5.1%

Michigan State University

4.9%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

4.9%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

4.2%

Case Western Reserve University

4.2%

Stanford University

4.1%

Carnegie Mellon University

4.1%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

4.1%

Northeastern University

4.1%

Arizona State University

4.0%

University of Arizona

4.0%

University of Illinois at Chicago

3.7%

Rochester Institute of Technology

3.7%
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Majors

Mechanical Engineering

20.3%

Electrical Engineering

15.3%

Chemical Engineering

14.0%

Biomedical Engineering

6.7%

Computer Engineering

4.8%

Business

4.4%

Computer Science

4.2%

Materials Science And Engineering

4.1%

Engineering

4.1%

Physics

3.9%

Civil Engineering

3.9%

Chemistry

2.8%

Aerospace Engineering

2.3%

Industrial Engineering

2.0%

Materials Sciences

1.3%

Finance

1.2%

Mathematics

1.2%

Systems Engineering

1.1%

Management

1.1%

Environmental Engineering

1.0%
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Degrees

Masters

40.5%

Doctorate

27.8%

Bachelors

23.3%

Other

6.2%

Certificate

1.1%

Associate

0.9%

Diploma

0.2%
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Real Research Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Research Engineer Google Inc. Kirkland, WA Jul 07, 2016 $216,000
Research Engineer Google, Inc. Kirkland, WA Aug 10, 2015 $216,000
Research Engineer JD.Com American Technologies Corporation Santa Clara, CA Nov 28, 2016 $200,000 -
$230,000
Subsurface Nanotechnology Research Engineer Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2015 $182,800
GNC Research Engineer Autel Robotics USA LLC San Ramon, CA Feb 15, 2016 $180,000
Research Engineer VIV Labs Inc. San Jose, CA Aug 26, 2016 $175,000 -
$191,000
Research Engineer ZOOX, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Jan 08, 2016 $170,000
Research Engineer FX Palo Alto Laboratory, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Jun 09, 2016 $167,500
Hardware Engineering Researcher IBM Corporation San Jose, CA Mar 10, 2015 $165,000
Research Engineers Exxonmobil Upstream Research Company Houston, TX May 29, 2015 $163,488 -
$163,600
Research Engineer Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Sep 18, 2015 $163,488
Research Engineer EBAY Inc. San Jose, CA Mar 11, 2015 $162,000
Research Engineer Google Inc. Mountain View, CA May 08, 2016 $161,000
Research Engineer VIV Labs Inc. San Jose, CA Aug 26, 2016 $161,000 -
$185,000
Engine Research & Analysis Engineer Tula Technology, Inc. Plymouth, MI Oct 12, 2015 $110,250
Software Research Engineer Palo Alto Networks, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Oct 30, 2015 $110,094
Research Engineer, Machine Learning Cognitive Scale, Inc. Austin, TX Aug 15, 2016 $110,000
Perception Research Engineer Kinema Systems, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Sep 21, 2016 $110,000
Vulnerability Research Engineer Palo Alto Networks, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Sep 02, 2015 $110,000
Research Engineer Philips Electronics North America Corporation Cambridge, MA Aug 23, 2016 $110,000
Research Engineer, Machine Learning Cognitive Scale Austin, TX Nov 17, 2016 $110,000
Mobile Malware Research Engineer Palo Alto Networks, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Aug 26, 2015 $110,000
Research Engineer Mistras Group, Inc. Princeton Junction, NJ Dec 22, 2015 $89,648
Research Engineer Cargill, Incorporated Plymouth, MN May 08, 2016 $89,627 -
$100,000
Research Engineer III United States Steel Corporation Munhall, PA Sep 15, 2015 $89,604
Research Engineer III United States Steel Corporation Munhall, PA Mar 09, 2016 $89,604
Research Engineer III United States Steel Corporation Munhall, PA Sep 11, 2015 $89,604
Research Engineer SRI International Menlo Park, CA Dec 19, 2016 $89,502 -
$214,400
Research Engineer-Applications Convergent Science, Inc. Madison, WI Aug 15, 2016 $89,300

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Top Skills for A Research Engineer

  1. Laboratory Equipment
  2. Computer
  3. Data Analysis
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Maintain laboratory equipment, specimen records, inventory, Standard Operating Procedures in accordance to laboratory safety and compliance.
  • Developed a computer program to estimate thermal characteristics of buried gas pipelines; project was sponsored by Con-Edison.
  • Performed calibration, efficiency tests, and thermodynamic data analysis for gas-fired heating units; data used to develop governmental standards.
  • Project leader of corporate wide initiative to integrate above mentioned process control system.
  • Updated facility safety basis documentation to develop a waste disposal matrix for safely combining waste streams for final disposition.

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Top 10 Best States for Research Engineers

  1. California
  2. New Mexico
  3. District of Columbia
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Alaska
  6. Delaware
  7. Texas
  8. Connecticut
  9. New York
  10. Louisiana
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