Test Engineer Salary
An average Test Engineer in the United States can expect to take home roughly $71K annually. Cash earnings for Test Engineers — including $9K in bonuses and $10K in profit sharing proceeds near the top of the pay scale — generally stretch from $50K to $99K depending on individual performance. Compensation for this group is mainly affected by location, but the specific employer and years of experience are influential factors as well. Medical benefits are awarded to most, and a large number earn dental coverage. Most Test Engineers like their work and job satisfaction is high. The vast majority of Test Engineers (86 percent) who took the survey are men. This report is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.
Job Description for Test Engineer
Test engineers are involved in creating and designing processes or experiments to test the quality of a product to be manufactured. Test engineers mainly deal with the inner workings of computer hardware and software; however, many test engineers work with a variety of different fields and test a wide range of equipment and products, from medical equipment such as X-ray machines to commercial transportation vehicles like airplanes. Some independence is expected of test engineers, so they must be able to work both on their own as well as with others as a team. These engineers work hand in hand with the hardware and software engineers to try to achieve a near flawless product. In these group settings, the engineers are involved in reviewing the many steps in designing a product. Test engineers are responsible for reviewing the initial schematics, the electrical wiring and finally the debugging towards the end. Despite working with others, most of the time the test engineers are left to themselves to decide whether the final product is of desirable quality. Test engineers have the last say in determining quality in many situations. To be a test engineer, one must have at least a bachelor’s in computer science, or something similar to that field such as electrical engineering. A master’s or PhD in these fields would be ideal for certain test engineer positions. They need to be familiar in various programming languages, such as Java or C++, as they will be involved in debugging various aspects of software. Additionally, prospective test engineers should be creative, have good problem solving skills, and work well under stressful situations.
Test Engineer Tasks
- Understand complex systems to create test plans and cases.
- Automate tests and interpret results.
- Provide test result information to other teams to improve product quality.
- Create tests to inform debugging, root cause analysis, and improvement recommendations.
Common Career Paths for Test Engineer
Test Engineers may experience a large salary bump if they progress into a role such as Test Engineering Manager. The latter position pays an average of $104K annually. Going from Test Engineer to Senior Test Engineer is the transition that occurs most often in this field, where the paychecks are $88K. Many others choose to work as Electrical Engineers, where pay is typically $69K.
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Popular Employer Salaries for Test Engineer
Dominating the field, Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corporation, L-3 Communications, Cisco Systems Inc, and Qualcomm Inc are top firms with a reputation for hiring a great number of Test Engineers. The biggest paychecks can be found at Cisco Systems Inc — the median salary there is $93K; however, employees are subject to a wide range in pay, with the lowest salaries sitting near $65K and highest ones in the neighborhood of $117K. Other leaders in compensation levels are The Boeing Company at $88K, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc at $86K, and Qualcomm Inc, where Test Engineers annually earn $85K.
Also approaching the lower end are Lockheed Martin Corp at $67K, Micron Technology, Inc. at $67K, and Honeywell International Inc at $69K.
Popular Skills for Test Engineer
Survey participants wield an impressively varied skill set on the job. Most notably, skills in C, Labview, Test Automation, and C++ are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that are correlated to lower pay, on the other hand, include Microsoft Office, Quality Assurance / Quality Control, and Technical Writing. Those educated in Test Engineering tend to be well versed in System Testing, Electronic Troubleshooting, and Test Automation.
Pay by Experience Level for Test Engineer
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Experience does not seem to be a strong driver of pay increase in this role. Salaries for the relatively untried average out to around $65K, but survey participants with five to 10 years of experience earn a significantly higher median of $79K. Test Engineers bring in $86K after working for 10 to 20 years. People who have worked for more than 20 years report a median income of $88K, which is barely higher than the median for folks with 10 to 20 years of experience.
Pay Difference by Location
Santa Clara is home to an above-average pay rate for Test Engineers, 38 percent higher than the national average. Test Engineers can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like San Jose (+29 percent), San Diego (+15 percent), Auburn Hills (+11 percent), and Seattle (+11 percent). Chicago is home to the smallest salaries in the field, lagging the national average by 4 percent.
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