Principal Design Engineer Career Path

Are you thinking of becoming a Principal Design Engineer or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Principal Design Engineer, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Principal Design Engineer job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.
"Design Engineer" was the nearest match for you query "Principal Design Engineer".

How To Become a Design Engineer

A design engineer uses computer-aided design (CAD) software to develop and improve product designs and manufacturing processes. If you're someone who has a strong background in computer software programs and attention to detail, you might consider a career as a design engineer. In this article, we cover the steps required to become a design engineer.
Contents

1

Earn a bachelor's degree.

Most employers seek to hire design engineers who have at least a bachelor's degree in design engineering, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, or product design engineering technology. During these programs, you'll learn about machine design, CAD software applications, and thermodynamics. You'll also likely complete hands-on projects to demonstrate your understanding of specific engineering concepts.

What skills do you need to be a Design Engineer?

  • FPGA Design
  • Systemverilog
  • MATLAB
  • Decryption
  • Antennas
  • MEMS
  • Rotordynamics
  • PHD
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Design Engineer in the United States.

2

Gain design experience.

Many undergraduate programs include internship opportunities, where you can complete those hands-on projects. These internships can be in your field of interest so you can learn more about the daily responsibilities of design engineers. Once your internship ends and you earn your degree, you might be able to secure an employment opportunity at your internship location.

3

Build your design portfolio.

After you obtain some experience, begin to build your portfolio. Use specific examples of work you've completed on product designs, and include descriptions on what the client wanted and how you followed through. If you've done freelance work for clients or worked on project designs in your spare time, don't forget to include those as well. The more diverse your portfolio, the better, since that shows potential employers how versatile you are.

4

Obtain certification.

To demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in certain areas, you should consider obtaining certification. Four of the more common options include the following:

  • AutoCAD: Offered by Autodesk, the AutoCAD certification demonstrates your knowledge about the AutoCAD software program. There are three different designations available (AutoCAD Certified User, AutoCAD Certified Professional, and AutoCAD Civil 3D Certified Professional).
  • ASME: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) offers several certifications, some of which include the Nuclear Component Certification and Bioprocessing Equipment Certification. You must complete an assessment determined by an ASME professional.
  • Certified Associate in Engineering Management (CAEM): The American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM) awards this certificate to entry-level engineers in technical management or supervisory assignments. You need a degree in engineering or a computer field. The certification is valid for three years, and you can renew it once.
  • Certified Professional in Engineering Management (CPEM): Also offered from the ASME, this certification is ideal if you have several years of experience in technical fields. It has the same education requirements as the CAEM, except you need to submit a CV or resume documenting your experience.

5

Expand your professional network.

You can never have too many connections, especially when you're looking for a job as a design engineer. Consider attending industry-sponsored conferences or seminars to meet with other like-minded individuals. Don't be afraid to ask other design engineers specific questions or inquire about their best practices. Ask for their contact information, and a few days later, send an email to follow up with them.

Seniority Levels

L5

Principal Design Engineer

8+Years of Experience
$90,803 /yrAvg. Annual Salary
Learn More

L6

Senior Principal Design Engineer

8+Years of Experience
$90,803 /yrAvg. Annual Salary
Learn More

L7

Director of Design Engineering

8+Years of Experience
$90,803 /yrAvg. Annual Salary
Learn More

Salary Trajectory

Principal Design Engineer Career Path

$100K
$95K
$90K
$85K
$80K
L5
L7
Seniority Levels

Related careers in the Engineering Industry

Interested in other Engineering careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Principal Design Engineer skills. Discover some of the most common Principal Design Engineer career transitions, along with skills overlap.