Have you been working in the product design engineering field for a few years and thinking about how to advance your career? Maybe you’re new to the industry, but you’re the type of professional who likes to map your career out years in advance. In either case, knowing what steps to take to advance your career in product design engineering is valuable knowledge for paving your own career path and achieving your professional goals.
First things first: You pursued an education, graduated, and secured gainful employment, so you’ve already begun to prove your worth to your present and prospective future employers. Your success to date indicates that you have the ability to shape your career however you desire.
Whether you’re on the verge of landing a big promotion at work or you don’t yet have the experience and proven ability required to land your dream job just yet, this guide is designed to help you take the right steps, gain the right knowledge, build the right connections, and do everything you need to do to take control of your future and advance your career in product design engineering.
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In this detailed guide, you’ll find resources for analyzing your current skillset and determining which skills you need to acquire to reach your career goals, recommendations for professional associations, networks, online groups, and more that can help you connect with the right people and gain valuable industry insights, tips on how to use networking to your advantage to further your product design engineering career, and tips for enhancing your resume and conducting a job search when it’s time to make a leap to move up the corporate ladder.
In other words, you’ll find everything you need to know to solidify your future in product design engineering and take your career to the next level. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve compiled more than 115 trusted resources, including professional associations, must-attend industry events, the best resources for finding your next job in product design engineering, and tips for making all of these resources and efforts work in your favor.
Table of Contents:
- Analyze Your Current Skillset and Determine Which Skills You Need to Acquire
- Professional Organizations, Associations, and Networks to Join
- Career Guidance Sites, Groups, and Resources for Advancing Your Career in Product Design Engineering
- Know How to Use Networking (Both Online and Off) to Your Advantage
- Connect with the Right People and Organizations on Social Media
- Attend Industry Conferences to Stay Up-to-Date on the Latest Advances in Product Design Engineering
- Continuing Education for Advancing Your Career in Product Design Engineering
- Making Your Product Design Engineering Resume More Attractive to Prospective Employers
- Finding and Securing Jobs in Product Design Engineering
Analyze Your Current Skillset and Determine Which Skills You Need to Acquire
To create a solid career plan that will put you on the path to landing your dream job in product design engineering, you should conduct an analysis of your current skills, abilities, education, and other credentials, and determine which skills and qualifications you need to gain in order to qualify for your target role. Armed with this information, you can map out a plan with specific milestones and goals to acquire the expertise and credentials you need to continue advancing your career in product design engineering.
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Check out the following 12 resources for tips and tutorials on taking stock of your current skillset, the skills you might need to land a management role or specific position, and more:
- Important Skills to Become the Ultimate Engineering Manager
- The Quickest Way to Advance Your Career
- 7 Tips to Advance Your Engineering Career
- Do engineers need more education to advance?
- What to Expect From an Engineering Management Career
- What Keeps Engineers From Advancing in Their Careers?
- What skills do I need to develop to become an effective engineer?
- Engineers: How to Advance From Work Bench to Manager’s Desk
- Advancing Your Career
- Positioning Yourself for Career Advancement
- The 5 things you need to advance your engineering career
- How to choose engineering continuing education courses
Professional Organizations, Associations, and Networks to Join
Professional organizations, associations, and networks provide many benefits and opportunities to members, from opportunities to network with fellow professionals to early announcements and access to continuing education courses, conferences, and more.
Joining the right professional associations, groups, and networks can help you stay on top of industry news and happenings, meet peers working in your field who can help you advance your career, and even provide knowledge and opportunities that can help you shape the path you want your career to take.
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Check out the following 12 organizations, networks, and associations that can help you advance your career in product design engineering:
- Product Development and Management Association (PDMA)
- Industrial Designers Society of America
- National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
- The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
- Institute of Electric and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE)
- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET)
- America Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
- Society of Women Engineers
- Order of the Engineer
- Women in Engineering ProActive Network
- The Design Society
Career Guidance Sites, Groups, and Resources for Advancing Your Career in Product Design Engineering
Sometimes, gaining the most valuable knowledge for advancing your career in product design engineering doesn’t entail sitting in a classroom, pulling double-duty by working at your full-time job while going back to school to further your knowledge, or even a hefty tuition bill. In fact, some of the best tips and knowledge for advancing your career – in any field – is free and readily available at your fingertips on the Internet.
While not all of these resources are focused on product design engineering topics, most cover subject matter of value to anyone wanting to advance their career. For example, The Muse compiled a list of 43 free career-advancing courses, including public speaking, communication, strategy, and similar topics alongside programming and product design courses. Don’t discount the value of a resource simply because it’s not focused in your area of expertise; instead, embrace any opportunity to gain valuable professional skills and knowledge that can help you climb the corporate ladder.
Check out the following 10 websites, groups, and other resources that provide free ways to learn or connect with fellow professionals to help you advance your career:
- 43 Free Career-Advancing Courses You Can Take (and Actually Finish)
- International Society Of Product Design Engineers/Entrepreneurs – LinkedIn Group
- International Society Of Product Design Engineers/Entrepreneurs – Facebook Group
- Engineer Your Own Success – Advance Your Engineering Career
- Engineering Exchange
- The Engineering Career Coach
- Engineering Network
- KEEN Network
- The Institute: Career Guidance
- The Interaction Design Foundation
Know How to Use Networking (Both Online and Off) to Your Advantage
Of course, merely joining professional associations isn’t enough to help you advance your career in product design engineering. Social networking platforms, such as LinkedIn, are also beneficial to enhancing your professional brand and gaining recognition in the field.
But again, creating a presence only goes so far; you must be an active participant in networking communities, both online and off, to get the most out of your memberships and affiliations. That can mean participating in workshops, attending events, and even sharing your expertise with others in your field. From joining in on discussions taking place in online communities to offering your expertise to fellow professionals to help them solve challenges, there are plentiful opportunities to make valuable connections and collaborate with your peers.
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The following 13 resources offer tips and insights on networking and how to get the most out of platforms such as LinkedIn and other networking opportunities for advancing your career:
- Using LinkedIn to Stay Connected and Advance Your Career
- 10 essential networking tips
- Social networking for engineers
- Engineering Networking: Tips for Effective Networking
- Networking Tips for Introverts from an Introverted Engineer
- Embedded Gurus: Social Networking for Engineers
- Seven social networking resources for engineers
- How Do Engineers Use Social Media? [INFOGRAPHIC]
- The Best Social Networking Sites for Engineers
- Promoting Your Engineering Expertise
- How To Advance Your Career With Associations – 8 Career Advancement Tips
- Social Networks for Engineers
- Engineers aren’t using social networking for work
Connect with the Right People and Organizations on Social Media
Beyond joining the right networking groups and associations, advancing your career in product design engineering can depend on having the right connections with other professionals and industry leaders on social media, as well as companies. Following thought leaders and forward-thinking organizations helps you to stay on top of the latest industry news and you might even be the first to know about a lucrative new opportunity thanks to your social connections.
Throughout this guide, you’ll find links to networking groups, associations, and other organizations that can help you advance your career, including links to groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s a good idea to connect with these entities across your social media networks, but in addition to those connections, there are a multitude of thought leaders with a strong presence on Twitter – and helpful career guidance experts, as well.
Check out (and follow) these 17 suggested experts and organizations (by no means an exhaustive list):
Attend Industry Conferences to Stay Up-to-Date on the Latest Advances in Product Design Engineering
Few events present such a myriad of opportunities to learn from the best and brightest leaders in a field and gain valuable knowledge about the latest techniques, strategies, and technologies shaping an industry as industry conferences provide.
Many conferences offer several tracks from which to choose, depending on your interests, current position, or future career goals, so you can select the talks and workshops that are most in line with your endeavors. Other types of events, such as trade shows, provide networking opportunities as well as a chance to evaluate the current industry landscape, such as the latest innovations or techniques your competitors are offering, new products that could reshape the industry, and emerging service providers in the field.
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Check out the following 14 conferences and events worth attending, as well as organizations offering up-to-date information on upcoming events and those that sponsor numerous events throughout the year:
- American Society for Engineering Education: Upcoming Engineering Conferences
- Engineering Conferences International: Engineering Design
- COMS: Conferences and Meetings on Engineering
- ASME: Events
- International Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education
- International Conference on Design & Production Engineering
- Joint Conference on Mechanical, Design Engineering & Advanced Manufacturing
- International Conference on Engineering Design 2015 (ICED 2015)
- The Design Society: Conferences and Workshops
- Engineering Design Show
- Design Engineering Events
- Eureka: Design Engineering Events
- Engineer Live: Latest Engineering Events
- PE Institute: Educational Events
Continuing Education for Advancing Your Career in Product Design Engineering
Whether you have an Associate’s degree and pursuing a Bachelor’s degree would make you eligible for a sought-after promotion, or you’ve already completed graduate school but are looking for some updated knowledge in a specialized area, there are abundant educational opportunities for professionals who want to pursue continuing education in product design engineering.
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While certainly not an all-inclusive list, the following 14 schools, programs, and resources on continuing education opportunities in product design engineering are examples of the many high-quality educational offerings available to professionals and students in the field:
- Arizona State University Engineering Graduate Programs
- Ohio State University: Advance Your Education With An Online Engineering Degree for Managers
- RMIT University: School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Central Michigan University: Product Design Engineering Technology
- New York University: The School of Engineering Master’s Programs
- Georgia Tech Professional Education: Engineering
- Boston University: Certificate in Product Design
- State Center Consortium: Engineering and Design
- University of Washington: Build Your Engineering Potential
- Stanford Engineering
- AECDaily: Continuing Education
- PDH Engineer
- ASME Training and Development
- Red Vector
Making Your Product Design Engineering Resume More Attractive to Prospective Employers
Whether your next career move means a promotion within your current organization, a transfer to a different department, or even taking a new, better position with a different company, keeping your resume up-to-date is important for career advancement. You never know when the perfect opportunity will present itself (especially if you’re taking advantage of the continuing education and networking opportunities discussed throughout this guide), and the last thing you want to do is throw together a haphazard resume at the last minute – one that may not be the best reflection of your skills and qualifications.
It’s a good idea to update your resume on an ongoing basis, documenting anytime you complete a certificate program, reach a goal, or achieve a career accomplishment such as being invited to speak at a conference or event. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your resume is not only a true record of your career accomplishments, but an impressive reflection on your capabilities as a product design engineer.
Oh, and that outdated, one-page rule for resumes? Throw that out the window. As you advance in your career, the achievements you highlight as most important will change, but it will become impossible to keep your most impressive accomplishments limited to a single page. (And for mid-level and senior-level professionals, most employers no longer expect a single-page summary, but are open to longer C.V.s that portray an accurate picture of your career highlights and capabilities.)
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The following 15 resources, templates, and examples will guide you in creating the perfect resume or C.V. for advancing your career in product design engineering:
- Cornell Engineering: Resumes and Cover Letters
- Columbia University: Resumes and CVs – For Engineers
- The University of Texas at Austin: Cockrell School of Engineering – Resumes
- 10 tips for a successful engineering resume
- Engineering Job Resume and Interview Tips
- 6 Tips to Improve your Engineering Resume
- Sample Resume for a Midlevel Design Engineer
- Engineering Resume Examples
- Engineering CV template
- 3 Design engineer resume samples
- Design Engineer Resume Sample One
- Design Engineer CV Example
- Resume Tips for Engineers
- Resume Writing Advice
- Resume Writing For Engineers: Formatting Tips
Finding and Securing Jobs in Product Design Engineering
If you’re looking to move up the corporate ladder and secure a new position (perhaps with a better salary, benefits, and more responsibilities), then a job search is in order. An effective job search can take months, and you shouldn’t jump at the first opportunity presented to you unless it meets your requirements and is either your dream job or a logical stepping stone on the path to landing your ideal position.
Even if you’re not actively pursuing a new position or seeking to leave your current company, staying abreast of the current market conditions and having an overall picture of the opportunities available in the product design engineering field can help you keep a pulse on the industry – and even know when the time is ripe to make a move if asking for a promotion is in your sights.
Check out the following 12 career networks and job boards to start looking for your next position in product design engineering, as well as a few resources with insights on the job market in the engineering field as a whole:
- Engineering & Science Career Network
- CareerCast IT & Engineering Network
- Engineer Jobs
- Monster.com: Engineering Jobs
- Engineering Central
- Engineering.com: Engineering Jobs
- The Dream Employers For Engineering Students
- LinkedIn: Engineering Jobs
- GovernmentJobs: Engineering Jobs
- The Most In-Demand (And Aging) Engineering Jobs
Every product design engineer has to start somewhere. Whether you’re still in your entry-level position and thinking it’s time to move up the corporate ladder or you’re a mid-level professional ready to take your product design engineering career to new heights with a management position, the resources provided in this guide will walk you through everything you need to know to advance your career in product design engineering.