Natural problem-solvers, communicators and individuals with a strong science and math background may find their ideal career as a validation engineer. Working within the laboratory or manufacturing setting, validation engineers perform tests of the various equipment and instruments used within their particular work setting. By making exact measurements against established standards, validation engineers adjust equipment precisely. This process is known as calibrating, or validating, the equipment.
Engineers document their tests, and this data serves as important information for analysis by others within their departments, such as validation technicians.
Validation engineers also may be responsible for overseeing equipment decisions, such as determining what pieces need to be replaced and/or purchased. Working closely with contractors, suppliers and vendors, validation engineers diagnose equipment issues and install new equipment. In some biotechnology firms, validation engineers manage the equipment budget and train all personnel on new equipment. An in-depth knowledge and understanding of good manufacturing practices is a critical skill for validation engineers.
Most validation engineers work within an organizational department that has a clearly defined path for future career progression. Often, four positions with increasing responsibilities, authority and pay exist for validation engineers: Validation Engineer I, II, III and IV. Individuals with a master’s degree and several years of experience may enter management level positions. Others may choose to become independent contractors, consulting with biotechnology companies.
Even entry level validation engineer positions require a Bachelor of Science degree with several years of work experience in the field. Some individuals, such as those currently employed as validation technicians, may work toward bachelor’s or master’s degrees while working and gaining experience.
Validation engineers need strong computer and mechanical skills to understand and operate laboratory equipment. Additional training in specific standards and guidelines may be required.
Engineers may be required to obtain certification in equipment calibration. Many companies will arrange for this certification as part of the engineer’s work.
Compensation for validation engineers varies with experience and supervisory responsibility. Entry level engineers earn, on average, $48,919 annually, with this increasing to $64,312, $71,519 and $75,588 per level. Experienced engineers in management positions can earn up to $93,052 annually, according to salary.com. Salary information is current as of June 2008.