Job titles: R&D "engineer"

Discussion in 'Career Advising' started by ebeowulf17, May 15, 2019 at 9:32 AM.

  1. ebeowulf17

    Thread Starter Distinguished Member

    Aug 12, 2014
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    For the sake of my resume, as well as communications with outside vendors and such, I've been struggling lately with what my job title should be right now.

    First, let me say up front that I have no formal engineering training, let alone a degree, PE, etc. My degree is in audio production. I've always been good at math and science, I've always take an analytical approach to problem solving, and I've taken some drafting classes, but nothing formal beyond that.

    Having said that, I've worked my way through a variety of technical fields to the point where I'm now assigned full time to R&D work, one of only three in our small company. I'm not just an assistant or anything. I'm often the one to identify a problem, usually the one doing in depth research, often the one to brainstorm and propose a solution. I design new circuits, design custom PCBs for existing and new circuit designs. I write embedded code for prototypes of new control systems. I often contribute to mechanical designs as well, although the final drawings are never my own.

    Based on those job duties, comparing them to job descriptions I find online, it seems like my title should be R&D Engineer, and at least one of my bosses wants to call me that as well. However, with no formal training, and knowing that *some* engineering job titles have strict legal definitions, I'm hesitant to claim that title without getting the opinion of some actual engineers.

    So, what do you all think? Am I am engineer of any kind? If not, what alternate titles would you propose?

    R&D Associate? I don't really know what that one means.

    R&D Technician? All job listings I see make this job title sound very much like an assistant to someone else who's making the higher level decisions.

    Some other title I've not yet heard of?

    Thanks in advance for your help!
     
  2. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    Senior R&D tech? R&D manager (or director)?

    I agree it's an issue to be labeled an engineer with no certification of any kind behind it. It may depend who the audience is. I mean, if your title goes to customers or potential new employers, it's more of a problem than a label on a box of your company org chart.
     
  3. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
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    R&D Specialist?

    https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/rd-specialist-salary-SRCH_KO0,13.htm

    Be very careful using the title 'Engineer' on official work product. The tile means you're the fall guy when bad things happen. If you can't pull a folder out of your posterior full of complex and mystical engineering justifications for why X failure resulted in Y making Z move out of some obscure specification limit causing product failures a year later was unforeseeable, you will be the goat given to the lions by the bean-counting weasels.

     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019 at 11:51 AM
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  4. Raymond Genovese

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    Mar 5, 2016
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    I am glad that you are thinking a lot about it. Coming from another field, I don't know the correct answer (if there is one), but I have some strong opinions on the subject and some pointers that might help you decide.

    I have seen my share of BS CVs and they are spotted a mile away...and they are discounted. A CV is a very personal thing and if one is not honest in a CV, I simply assume that they are not going to be honest in the job....or they simply don't know any better.

    Once, I counseled a young scientist who decided he would call himself a Behavioral Toxicologist on his CV. Do you have a degree in Toxicology? - No. Do you have a Toxicologist license - no. Have you taken a lot of graduate level toxicology courses? - No. Have you taken any graduate level toxicology courses? - No. Have you published extensively in Toxicology journals? - No. Here's a dime, call your mother, tell her you are not a Toxicologist of any kind (with apologies to Prof. Kingsfield).

    There are so many places where you are encouraged to embellish, package, sizzle, stand apart and so on. I think it is all a bunch of BS and easily spotted by someone who is, or knows, what those titles mean.

    Yet, there can be equivocation in exactly what you should call yourself.

    What is the lowest and highest you would consider yourself?

    What is the job title that you currently hold? - it should have a name.

    Now go search at legitimate resume services and online employment where they present actuall accomplishments commensurate with the title (your post gets to your accomplishment nicely).

    "R&D Engineers are responsible for improving technologies provided by a company in order to strengthen its position on the marketplace. Typical resume samples for R&D Engineers mention duties such as performing research, developing innovations, traveling to meet customers, networking with stakeholders, and completing research and development projects in time. Based on our collection of resume examples, these experts should demonstrate strategic planning, analytical thinking, creativity, self-motivation, and enthusiasm. Eligible candidates hold a Bachelor's Degree in discipline related to their field of research." from: https://www.jobhero.com/resume-samples/r&d-engineer/?page=2

    Also on that site are examples of R&D Engineer CVs - see how yours compare.

    So, on that basis, it seems to me that you could call yourself an R&D Engineer, with the weakness or stretch, if you will, of your degree - but you are not hiding anything. [edited to add - but I read subsequent posts about illegalities of using the term if unlicensed].

    I guess my point is, the meat of your CV must legitimately back up what you are calling yourself. When you get it finished, assuming you end up calling yourself an R&D Engineer, send it to some R&D Engineers that you think epitomize the title - see if they laugh or agree.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019 at 2:00 PM
  5. jpanhalt

    Expert

    Jan 18, 2008
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    I would be careful calling myself an "engineer" in my CV or resume.

    Washington state laws about engineer seem similar to other states. Here's a link: https://www.dol.wa.gov/business/engineerslandsurveyors/docs/engineers-landsurveyors-laws.pdf

    In practice, you will find that the law typically applies to those who offer their services to the public as "engineers" and not to an employer, as it is assumed the employer has done due diligence and accepts the liability.

    Here is an example I found on the Web:
    I agree that "associate" has come to mean an entry-level position at a fast food chain. Technician, senior tech, and so forth are your safest bets.

    "Technologist," which may sound a little more sophisticated because of the "ologist" ending has a specific meaning in some fields and requires training and certification, so I would also avoid that.
     
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  6. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

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    We had a stupid case in Oregon where degreed "engineers" were being fined for using the word "engineer" as a title.

    https://reason.com/2019/01/02/judge-confirms-that-oregon-engineer-has/
     
  7. cmartinez

    AAC Fanatic!

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    If there's such a thing as a para-medic.... para-legal... now maybe you could call yourself para-engineer...
     
  8. Raymond Genovese

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    Here is a description of a research engineer that my be of interest.

    http://www.gillrd.com/blog/2014/12/what-it-working-research-engineer-gill-rd/

    I can not find any legal requirements of using the term Engineer in a title if you are NOT offering services to the public - although it is hinted at in a post in this thread https://www.reddit.com/r/AskEnginee...are_the_requirements_for_calling_yourself_an/. This has already been stated and I am only adding that I can't find any restrictions other than those already mentioned. I wonder what percentage of those using the word Engineer in their title are actually licensed?
     
  9. djsfantasi

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    The use of the title “engineer” was significantly diluted when “programmers” became “software engineers”. Personally, unless your resume’ stated a degree or certification up front, the term “engineer” actually became a hiring red flag. This was in the IT world where as previously stated the term was misused. However, my attitude was validated over and over.
     
  10. Raymond Genovese

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    Sanitary engineer
    Safety engineer
    Financial engineer
    Domestic engineer
     
  11. nsaspook

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    A 'real' engineer.

     
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  12. ebeowulf17

    Thread Starter Distinguished Member

    Aug 12, 2014
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    Many thanks to everyone who's responded! Lots of great insights.

    The overall impression I get from these responses, as well as my own outside research, is that I'm probably better off avoiding the title "engineer." Even if my job duties better match that title than any other, my qualifications may not - I'll be the first to admit that I'd get my job done faster, and maybe better, if I'd taken all the classes required for an engineering degree. Quite often I spend significant time researching things that a real engineer would probably already know.

    Besides, even if I had somehow learned enough on my own to merit the title, there's still the risk of giving people the wrong first impression. The last thing I want to do is look like a liar, and I would rather under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around!

    All that said, that leaves me searching for the best-fit title. So far "Senior Research and Development Technician" and "Research and Development Specialist" seem like the best bets, although I can't find any job descriptions or resumes for such positions that match what I actually do. Basically I think I'm doing a job that I'm technically under-qualified for... but since I'm the most qualified person at the company, I get to do it anyway!

    I'd welcome any more thoughts, whether on these two titles, or any others I haven't thought of. Failing that, it's pretty much a coin-toss between these two at the moment. As for what my current job title is, our company is pretty small and un-structured, and many people don't have exact job-titles, only department assignments. So, my assignment is "R&D" but I don't really have a job title per se.
     
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  13. Raymond Genovese

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    Of the two, I like "Research and Development Specialist".
     
  14. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    That's another reason not to use the title engineer -- if you do and are interviewed and/or hired, you will likely be compared against what is expected of a "real engineer" and risk falling short in enough of them so as to put a bad taste in their mouths.

    The R&D Specialist has potential. Also, you can put the description of what you did those phrases of the R&D Engineer description that apply.
     
  15. djsfantasi

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    Put my vote in for Research & Development Specialist as well.
     
  16. cmartinez

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    Yeah, R&D Specialist has a better connotation than "technician". IMHO.
     
  17. ebeowulf17

    Thread Starter Distinguished Member

    Aug 12, 2014
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    All right! Sounds like there's some consensus around "R&D Specialist." I think that's what I'll go with.

    Thanks so much for all the help!
     
  18. MeSat

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    I will also support R&D Specialist. Many businesses today are looking for people with experience across fields which help in the R&D aspect. It may be a better way of getting an interview than being an engineer for some companies. Others don't care unless you have the "degree" and in some cases more experience than the product has been around.

    Good luck.
     
  19. dl324

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    Mar 30, 2015
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    What is your job title? You can use anything they call you in your resume.

    For my last couple of decades at the company I worked for, they called me an Electrical Design Engineer (mostly hardware design) while I was actually a CAD Engineer (mostly software design). I didn't care because it was the letters in front of my title that reflected my pay grade (i.e. Sr. Staff Electrical Design Engineer).
     
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