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An individual with an aptitude for science and math, the desire to make changes in the engineering field, and an interest in research might want to become a research engineer. If you find yourself in this category and are willing to commit to the education and work experience needed, you can begin to make it happen. Research engineers often spend a good portion of their time in laboratories and out in the field doing experiments on various subjects ranging from wind energy to biomechanics, so a desire for this type of work environment is also important.
Engineers need a bachelor's degree in engineering in order to begin work, though in order to become a research engineer, a master's or doctoral degree is sometimes necessary. The appropriate engineering program will depend on your interests, as research positions are available in civil, mechanical, electrical, and other areas of engineering. A bachelor's degree generally lasts for four to five years while a master's can take two to three additional years to complete. If you are interested in pursuing a doctoral degree, you should expect to put an additional three to five years into your education.
After your education is complete, you can expect to work in your engineering field of choice for a few years before being able to become a research engineer. It is possible to gain experience while in school by finding a research internship or doing research with professors, because most employers are interested in hiring research engineers who have had hands-on experience working in the field. Doing so creates a better understanding of the processes, systems, and products being researched.
Research engineers work in a variety of environments, but often spend a good portion of their time in a laboratory setting. Using specialized tools, computers, and equipment is an everyday part of a research engineer's job, so the ability to work with your hands is necessary to become a research engineer. The ability to communicate information effectively through written and verbal means is valuable because you will be expected to relay your findings succinctly.
Become a research engineer by being committed to creating change within the world, as many research engineers help to make various things work better than they did before. Other areas of research focus on creating new items and processes that can help the world be more efficient. Regardless, creativity and the ability to think critically are necessary components to become a research engineer.
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