Job description

Product safety engineers develop and conduct testing to evaluate a product’s potential to cause illness, injury or property damage. They recommend redesign and material upgrades and other measures to reduce danger to consumers. They may also consult on product usage and precautionary labelling and instructions.

Product safety engineers investigate potentially product-related accidents and can offer expert testimony in litigation cases.

Duties

    • Research product materials for potential hazards, including physical and chemical
    • Design and conduct usage tests to determine if and how a product may cause illness or injury
    • Evaluate products for possible dangers due to misuse or mishandling
    • Recommend changes in design, manufacturing processes or other measures to improve safety
    • Create or consult on product usage instructions, precautionary statements and product labelling
    • Invent or contribute to inventions of new products that solve safety issues of previous modelsCollaborate with other engineers on creating industry standards for product safety
    • Investigate accidents potentially caused by product usage or misuse
    • Compile report of data and findings of accident investigation for client or authorities
    • Provide expert testimony on product safety and accident findings in litigation cases

Skills, qualities and knowledge

Reading comprehension
Writing
Critical thinking
Problem-solving
Monitoring
Systems analysis
Visualisation
Creativity
Initiative
Teamwork
Integrity
Attention to detail
Stress tolerance
Design
Law and government
Chemistry
Physics
Mathematics

Working hours and environment

Average working hours

50hweek

Typical schedule

Full Time

Overtime work likely

Most product safety engineers work full time in an office setting. You may need to travel to work sites, law offices or a court room. Many product safety engineers work overtime to complete testing or prepare legal testimony.

Product safety engineers work in a wide variety of industries, including toys and games, wireless technology, automobiles and aeronautics. Product testing can be dangerous and requires protective equipment and strict adherence to safety guidelines. Projects are research and labour-intensive, often with strict deadlines, which can be stressful.

Salary

Bottom 10%

$53k

Median

$89k

Top 10%

$140k

Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

Undergraduate

DVM / VMD degree

Study time

4years

Product safety engineers need a bachelor’s degree, typically in environmental or occupational health and safety. Mechanical, electrical or chemical engineering degrees are also an option. Many colleges and universities provide internship or cooperative education programmes, combining academic study with practical experience.

Earning your master’s can help you land higher-level positions. Some institutions offer a combined bachelor’s and master’s program that can be completed in five years.

Licensing is not required for entry-level product safety engineering positions. You can take the first exam, Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) after earning an ABET-accredited degree. You will need four years of experience before you can sit for the Professional Engineering (PE) exam. You must earn a passing grade on both exams to be licensed in your state.

Certification is also available from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the American Society of Safety Professionals.

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.

5%

No of new jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.

1.4k

Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.

2.8%

Career progression

Entry-level product safety engineers typically begin working alongside a more experienced engineer. Some corporations may provide additional formal training. Employers value work experience, so college internships are valuable. Passing your FE exam after earning your degree can also distinguish you from other candidates.

A licence is required for higher-level positions as well as freelance work. You may choose to specialise in one area of product safety, such as technology or automotive. Becoming an expert in that field can lead to lucrative consulting assignments, particularly as an expert witness in litigation cases. Gaining work experience with a variety of products, however, can open the door to a wider array of job opportunities.

Some product safety engineers choose to go into research and development and may invent and patent their own products.