What Are the Job Duties of a Test Engineer?

A test engineer's job duties include planning, designing, and evaluating products, as well as collaborating with production management. The test engineer makes sure that the finished product can be identified easily and tested thoroughly. Testing returned units, collecting data, and analyzing patterns are also among the test engineer's duties. Schools offering Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Duties and Responsibilities

Test engineering is the process of designing a product so it can be tested and making sure it is tested appropriately. When testing a computer or complex electronic assembly, this can be a difficult job. Testing requires three things:

  • Knowing the component or machine you are testing
  • Knowing which tests can provide the information you need
  • Running the test correctly and consistently

Important Facts about This Occupational Field

Required Education Bachelor's degree (required for most engineers)
Key Skills Problem solving, analytical, speaking, creativity, critical thinking
Median Salary (2016) $70,142*
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 4% growth (for all engineers)**

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Preparing and Designing Products for Testing

The test engineer determines how each component is to be labeled and where the label is to be placed for readability. Sometimes there is an internal 'label' as well. This is a piece of code which runs when needed to identify the component and give its specifications. Also at this early design stage, a test engineer reviews the plans to make sure that access for testing does not require taking the machine apart. For example, if a computer test can be run through a serial port, the engineer would insist that a serial port was installed early and not covered with another part.

Choosing and Automating Tests

Depending on the component or machine being tested, dozens of tests can be run. A test engineer chooses the most appropriate test, modifying it to the specifications of the machine. Then, the engineer figures out how to automate the testing process. An automatic testing process is far more consistent than a human tester can be. Once properly programmed, the automated test is far more reliable. Minimizing variables that might affect a test is one of the test engineer's important job duties.

Product Follow-Up

The test engineer's duties are not over when the finished product leaves the building. Field data on failures or problems will come to her or his attention as consumers report bugs. New tests or more tests might have to be designed.

Salary Statistics

According to PayScale.com, salaries earned by most test engineers range from $51,227 to $96,862 per year, with the median reported as $70,142 as recently as January 2016. Entry-level test engineers earned a median of $64,199 per year during this time.

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