Validation engineer: job description
A validation engineer is a qualified engineer who manages, inspects, calibrates, tests and modifies the instrumentation, equipment, mechanics and procedures used to manufacture various products. They ensure all systems are running correctly and efficiently to produce high-quality products. They also investigate the causes of equipment failures and anomalies, and decide if the equipment needs to be repaired or replaced.
The job is hugely varied and validation engineers can be found in labs and research facilities as well as in a wide range of manufacturing industries, including aerospace, automotive, computer software and pharmaceuticals. A validation engineer’s role will depend on the industry they work in and their specialism, but typical tasks include:
- monitoring and testing equipment
- analysing and documenting test results
- preparing compliance reports
- directing validation activities
- resolving testing problems
- making adjustments or improvements to equipment and processes
- creating databases to track validation activities
- interpreting customer requirements
- developing validation schedules
- conducting training and overseeing the work of validation technicians
- maintaining instrumentation and equipment
- keeping up to date on industry standards and regulations
- Manufacturers, including the aviation and food industries
- Biotechnology labs
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Public service and private test labs
- Research institutions
Jobs are advertised online, by careers services and recruitment agencies, in newspapers and in relevant publications including TARGETjobs Engineering and The Engineer, as well as their respective websites.
Starting salaries for graduates are estimated by TARGETjobs Engineering to be in the £18,000–£25,000 range at small to medium businesses, but larger employers may pay above that. Head to our engineering salary round-up to find out more about what you could earn as an engineer.
There are routes into a validation engineering career for both university graduates and school leavers. Graduates will need a degree in a relevant engineering discipline such as electrical, manufacturing, mechanical and software engineering. The most relevant degree subject will vary depending on the industry you’re applying to. Some employers will ask for a 2.1 degree but others will accept candidates with a 2.2 degree. Take a look at our list of engineering employers that accept 2.2 degrees.
You can enter the profession with a three-year bachelors degree (BEng) but you might find it preferable to take an MEng degree. In England and Wales, this is a four-year course that combines a bachelors degree with a masters. In Scotland, a BEng will typically last four years and an MEng will take five years. Alternatively you could study for a masters degree after completing your BEng. Typically, masters degree programmes will open up opportunities for promotion and the chance to conduct advanced research with experienced engineers. Read our article on engineering postgraduate study to explore your options.
Studying for an accredited MEng degree is also the fastest route to achieving chartered engineer (CEng) status with the Engineering Council. To find out more, take a look at our guide to chartership.
Relevant experience can be helpful; many employers offer final-year project work, degree sponsorship, vacation work and industrial placements, which can provide valuable contacts and a useful insight into the profession. Take a look at our list of engineering employers who offer industrial placements and summer internships.
If you’re a school leaver, you may be able to side step into validation engineering after completing an advanced, higher or degree apprenticeship in a relevant area such as electrical, manufacturing or mechanical engineering. If your apprenticeship doesn’t involve working towards a degree, further training may be required to progress. To find out more about getting into engineering via a school leaver route, visit the engineering section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
- The ability to find creative solutions to complex engineering problems
- A methodical mind
- Strong maths and IT skills
- Attention to detail
- Analytical thinking
- Organisation and time management
Read our article on the skills engineering employers look for for more information and then find out how you can prove you possess these competencies at engineering assessment centres.