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Become A Senior Principal Engineer

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Working As A Senior Principal Engineer

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

  • $141,875

    Average Salary

What Does A Senior Principal 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 Senior Principal 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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Do you work as a Senior Principal Engineer?

Senior Principal Engineer Jobs

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Senior Principal Engineer Career Paths

Senior Principal Engineer
Senior Project Manager Contractor/Consultant Senior Software Engineer
Director Of Software Development
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineering Manager Principal Systems Engineer Manager, Systems Engineering
Director Of Systems Engineering
12 Yearsyrs
Technical Director Production Manager Engineering Manager
Engineering Operations Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Manager Subject Matter Expert Program Manager
Manager, Program Management
10 Yearsyrs
Managing Director Contractor/Consultant Systems Engineer
Manager, Systems Engineering
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Director Consultant Information Technology Project Manager
Operations Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineering Manager Vice President Of Engineering Senior Project Engineer
Product Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Technical Director Chief Engineer Engineering Manager
Research And Development Director
12 Yearsyrs
Managing Director Instructor Research Scientist
Research And Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Manager Senior Project Manager Engineering Director
Senior Director Of Engineering
15 Yearsyrs
Lead Engineer Chief Engineer Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Consultant Information Technology Manager Sales Engineer
Technical Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Lead Engineer Project Manager Product Manager
Technical Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant Quality Assurance Lead Test Manager
Test Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Senior Project Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Director Vice President Development Vice President
Vice President Of Research And Development
13 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Product Manager Director Of Product Development
Vice President Product Development
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Manager Controller Assistant Vice President
Vice President, Technology
11 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Senior Principal Engineer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Principal Engineer 4.7 years
Principle Engineer 4.5 years
Staff Engineer 4.3 years
Senior Engineer 4.2 years
Lead Engineer 3.3 years
Team Lead Engineer 3.3 years
Engineer 3.2 years
Top Employers Before
Engineer 6.1%
Consultant 5.9%
Principal 3.4%
Manager 3.3%
Top Employers After
Consultant 12.8%
Principal 5.2%
Director 3.5%
President 3.5%

Do you work as a Senior Principal Engineer?

Senior Principal Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

83.2%

Female

11.9%

Unknown

4.9%
Ethnicity

White

52.2%

Asian

18.3%

Hispanic or Latino

13.0%

Black or African American

10.4%

Unknown

6.1%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

21.0%

German

9.7%

French

9.7%

Japanese

8.1%

Carrier

8.1%

Chinese

6.5%

Russian

6.5%

Italian

6.5%

Portuguese

3.2%

Gothic

3.2%

Arabic

3.2%

Swedish

1.6%

Navajo

1.6%

Czech

1.6%

Vietnamese

1.6%

Greek

1.6%

Hebrew

1.6%

Hindi

1.6%

Urdu

1.6%

Croatian

1.6%
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Senior Principal Engineer Education

Schools

George Washington University

8.2%

University of California - Los Angeles

7.0%

Johns Hopkins University

7.0%

New York University

6.1%

Arizona State University

6.1%

Pennsylvania State University

5.7%

University of Illinois at Chicago

5.3%

Carnegie Mellon University

5.3%

Drexel University

5.3%

University of Phoenix

4.9%

Rochester Institute of Technology

4.5%

Northeastern University

4.5%

Stanford University

4.1%

University of Southern California

4.1%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

4.1%

Purdue University

3.7%

Strayer University

3.7%

Iowa State University

3.7%

University of Florida

3.3%

City College of New York of the City University of New York

3.3%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

24.2%

Business

13.0%

Computer Science

11.6%

Mechanical Engineering

11.0%

Finance

4.2%

Computer Engineering

4.0%

Chemical Engineering

4.0%

Physics

3.5%

Management

3.1%

Computer Information Systems

2.7%

Engineering

2.6%

Education

2.4%

Civil Engineering

2.2%

Mathematics

1.9%

Project Management

1.7%

Aerospace Engineering

1.7%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.6%

Systems Engineering

1.6%

Marketing

1.6%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.5%
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Degrees

Masters

38.4%

Bachelors

33.4%

Other

12.6%

Doctorate

11.0%

Certificate

2.3%

Associate

1.5%

Diploma

0.7%

License

0.2%
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Real Senior Principal Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Software Development Senior Principal Engineer Dell Products L.P. Santa Clara, CA Aug 05, 2015 $194,250
Network Development SR. Principal Engineer Dell Products L.P. Santa Clara, CA Nov 30, 2015 $187,232
SR. Principal Engineer Fortinet, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Oct 23, 2015 $182,000
Senior Principal Engineer VIMO, Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 24, 2015 $180,000
Senior Principal Engineer Raytheon Company Tewksbury, MA Mar 05, 2016 $180,000
SR. Principal Engineer Autodesk, Inc. San Francisco, CA Dec 30, 2016 $169,800
SR. Principal Engineer Parker Hannifin Corporation Irvine, CA Sep 17, 2016 $168,615
Engineer, SR. Principal Qlogic Corporation Mountain View, CA Sep 20, 2016 $165,006
Senior Principal Engineer-Architecture Rambus Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jul 09, 2016 $165,000 -
$195,000
Principal Engr-Sw Devlpmt (Senior Member Technical Staff) MCI Communications Services, Inc. San Jose, CA Aug 23, 2016 $165,000
Senior Principal Engineer-Regulatory Affairs Hughes Network Systems LLC Germantown, MD May 09, 2016 $165,000
Senior Principal Engineer, Asic Clariphy Communications, Inc. Irvine, CA Jan 09, 2016 $165,000
SR. Principal Engineer Mangstor Inc. San Jose, CA Aug 25, 2016 $160,000
Senior Principal Product Engineer Cadence Design Systems, Inc. San Jose, CA Apr 15, 2016 $159,705 -
$206,700
Senior Principal Engineer Autodesk, Inc. San Francisco, CA May 16, 2016 $145,400
Senior Principal Modeler Risk Management Solutions, Inc. Newark, CA Jan 13, 2016 $145,000 -
$175,000
Senior Principal Engineer Teksystems Global Services LLC Detroit, MI Jul 09, 2015 $141,208
Senior Principal Engineer-Smte Adient Us LLC Plymouth, MI Jan 07, 2016 $141,170 -
$198,500
SR. Principal, Corporate Strategy Ca, Inc. New York, NY Sep 05, 2016 $140,000
Packaging Senior Principal Engineer Skyworks Solutions, Inc. Irvine, CA Aug 16, 2015 $140,000
SR. Principal, Corporate Strategy Ca, Inc. New York, NY May 09, 2016 $140,000
SR. Principal Engineer Performance Software Corp. Bothell, WA Jul 20, 2015 $138,847
Senior Principal Engineer (F/K/A Staff Engineer) Global Tel*Link Corporation Houston, TX Jan 03, 2015 $121,900
Senior Principal Engineer Hughes Systique Private Limited Rockville, MD Jun 05, 2016 $121,701
Senior Principal Automation Engineer Baxter Healthcare Corporation Los Angeles, CA Jul 31, 2015 $121,643
Senior Principal Inspirage LLC Bellevue, WA Jun 29, 2015 $121,000
Senior Principal Inspirage LLC Bellevue, WA Feb 27, 2015 $121,000
Senior Principal Inspirage LLC Bellevue, WA Jul 31, 2015 $121,000
Senior Principal Inspirage LLC Bellevue, WA Sep 09, 2015 $121,000

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Top Skills for A Senior Principal Engineer

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  1. Computer
  2. Test Plans
  3. Architecture
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed the advanced signal processing algorithms and computer codes, including the state-of-the-art feature extraction and original prognostic techniques.
  • Reviewed and drove updates for process documentation, requirements specifications, validation and verification test plans, risk management documents.
  • Served as architecture integrator and standardized all system engineering and management practices.
  • Maintained equipment log per Federal Acquisition Regulation; assisted contract manager with annual defense compliance review.
  • Developed a strategy that achieved global reach and gained influence among C-level executives in telecommunications carrier organizations.

How Would You Rate Working As a Senior Principal Engineer?

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