Amtec Hiring Guides

How to Hire Design Engineers in San Diego

Amtec Hiring Guides

How to Hire Design Engineers in San Diego

Current Environment

Rarely does an engineering job offer as much creative freedom as a design engineer. It is truly a left-brain, right-brain combination, requiring the technical and mechanical skills of the engineering field with the increasingly important creative vision for design aesthetics, functionality, and user experience.

The job is about taking conceptual ideas, for example, a product design, and transforming the idea into a real product.

Design engineers are tasked with making products that look good and are easy and safe to use. They also need analytical skills to ensure the product can be made cost-effectively and efficiently.

The field is a close cousin to mechanical engineering, and people in these two disciplines often work together on project teams

The field is broad, and many different industries and types of companies need to hire design engineers.

Engineering Disciplines That Need Design Engineers

  • Aerospace
  • Manufacturing
  • Architecture
  • Construction
  • Civil
  • Mechanical
  • Electrical
  • Chemical
  • Textile
  • Nuclear
  • Structural


An article in Interesting Engineering, a publication dedicated to the art of engineering, explained how to first Computer-aided Design CAD system called Sketchpad developed in 1963 started the field of electronically rendering engineering designs.

Starting around the mid-1970s, as computer-aided design software systems began to provide more capability than just an ability to reproduce manual drafting. By the late 80s and early 90s, with CAD systems now able to include engineering calculations in designs, systems expanded rapidly and became capable enough to be practical in design engineering.

Now, new tools and technology, including computer-aided design tools, 3D printers, and even virtual reality are expanding what design engineers are capable of doing.

Will COVID-19 Affect the design engineering Field?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected employment and the job market, however many sectors of the engineering field have played a critical role in combatting the virus.

National Academy of Engineering President John Anderson pointed out that “engineer” is an action-oriented verb, and engineers have been critical in so many areas of pandemic management. “Engineers consider themselves problem solvers and also creators. We create products, processes, and systems that address economic and societal needs,” said Anderson.

With this need for continued innovation in many industries, opportunities are not expected to decrease.

How will Recruiting design engineers Help Your Company?

How will Hiring design engineers Help Your Company?

Recruiting the top design engineers can ensure you have the right expertise on the team for design, documentation, development, manufacturing, and testing and improvement of both physical and digital products, systems, and equipment. As mentioned previously, these roles are a necessary component for companies in many industries.

When building a successful team, it’s important to consider how new design resources will align with your current team.

Fill the Knowledge Gap

If your current team members do not have a strong knowledge of the most current software systems for design, you have an opportunity to fill the gaps. You can source candidates that excel with a particular skill or fluency in software systems for engineering.

Creative Flair

Creativity is another area that is key for design engineers. When you are looking for recruits, ask for samples of previous design work. With design engineering, looks and function go hand-in-hand.

design engineer Details


To help you the best design engineers in San Diego, here are some of the details of the job.

The design engineer usually works with a team of other engineers, as well as designers and creative teams, such as marketing, to develop conceptual and detailed designs for products. This can involve developing prototypes to ensure the product or system functions as it is supposed to and is fit for its purpose.

A career in design engineering allows a lot of variety as almost every consumer product imaginable for large-scale production— automobiles, phones, consumer electronics, medical equipment, kitchen appliances, software, and the list goes on.

A few additional responsibilities include:

  • Study, research and develop ideas for new products and the systems used to make them.
  • Modify existing products or processes to increase efficiency or improve performance.
  • Work with marketers to develop the product concept and specifications to meet customer needs, and may direct the design effort.
  • Develop (or work with specialists) to ensure a high-quality user experience for digital products.
  • Design engineers typically work closely with industrial engineers, electrical engineers, and mechanical engineers on project teams.

Looking for another position? View other positions we place in San Diego, California.


Often colleges and universities that have programs in the design engineering field offer specialties or concentrations such as:

  • Design engineering
  • Electrical design engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Product design
  • Visual design engineering

Though some design engineer jobs require a master’s degree or doctorate, many project engineer jobs only require a bachelor’s degree, experience in the industry, and skills.

U.S. News and World Report ranked the top 3 undergraduate colleges for engineering (those that also offer a doctorate).

These programs train students in the principles of engineering and offer specialized courses in design engineering and its many specialized facets. Armed with a degree, graduates have a multitude of opportunities to work for large or small companies that need design and engineering skills to design both physical and digital products.

Top Schools

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • University of California Berkeley

  • Georgia Institute of Technology

Salary Range

design engineers in the U.S.


Total design engineers Employed in the U.S.





design engineer Salary Comparison


Nationally, annual compensation for design engineers ranges between $62,000 for entry-level and $150,000 for seasoned project engineers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 960,000 project engineers employed in 2019, with just 11.4% of those employed being women. It is estimated the 12.8% are Asian, 5.8% Black or African American, 8% Hispanic or Latino, and 79.6% are white.

The median annual wage for design engineers is $103,000 compared with $94,500, the median annual wage for all engineers.


The average annual salary for design engineers in California was 114k in 2019. The hourly wage averaged $55.

For more detailed compensation information for design engineers in San Diego, download our free compensation/salary report below.

Working in San Diego

Do design engineers consider San Diego, California a great place to work? Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are recruiting for a design engineers in San Diego.

The city lies along Southern California’s Pacific Ocean coast. It is directly adjacent to the Mexico border and is located about 120 miles south of the metro area of Los Angeles. It’s home to approximately 1.5 million people, making it the eighth-largest city in the U.S.

San Diego is famous for its almost perfect climate, natural beauty, magnificent beaches, and a vibrant downtown with culture, restaurants, and nightlife.

However, like many Southern California coastal cities, it has a high cost of living and expensive real estate. This may affect a company’s ability to hire top candidates unless compensation is commensurate.


    A study by Kisi ranked San Diego as the number one location for work-life balance in 2019. The factors considered in this study were work intensity, society and institutions, and city livability. Data suggests that workers who have a good work-life balance are more loyal to employers and more productive.

On the other hand, there are a few common complaints about living and working in San Diego.


    • The high cost of living: mainly due to real estate prices, which drives the cost of owning or renting a home, although it’s less expensive than San Francisco or Los Angeles.
    • Lack of professional sports, although this may not be an issue at all for many.
    • Lack of seasons. Yep – almost always 72 degree.
    • Traffic. San Diego ranks #40 for traffic in the U.S. So it is tolerable, but still something to consider.


Current Weather

Not your city? View other cities where we place design engineers.

Demand for design engineers in San Diego

Demand for design engineers in San Diego

Although the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics does not list this title specifically, the position is very similar in scope and qualifications to a mechanical engineer. Based on this data, employment is expected to grow about 4% from 2019 to 2019, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Design and mechanical engineers are essential for various manufacturing industries, particularly automotive manufacturing. Engineers are needed to continually improve the looks and performance of automobiles, and the range and performance of hybrid and electric cars. However, employment declines in some manufacturing industries could temper the overall employment growth of design engineers.

The supply of candidates and demand for open positions have a direct correlation to a company's ability to hire. Download a free Supply and Demand report for design engineers in San Diego, California below.

How to Hire the Best design engineers

Finding and hiring the best design engineer candidates can save you money right away and well into the future.

The costs of making a bad hire are well documented. The cost can run as much as 30% of the employee's first-year earnings according to the US Department of Labor. Bad hires can cost a whopping $240,000 in expenses related to hiring, compensation, and retention per The Undercover Recruiter. 74% of companies who admit they've hired the wrong person for a position lost an average of $14,900 for each bad hire according to CareerBuilder. These statistics support our long-held position that behavioral questions are the best way to get to know your candidates and past behavior is the best indicator of future performance.

Recruiting Best Practices

The information below comes from the best practices Amtec uses for finding the highest quality candidates.

Defining the Position

When defining the role you are creating, we recommend a position profile to fully evaluate the position you are hiring for. You must decide if the engineer can work remotely or must work in California. If working in San Diego is essential, make sure you include that in your job posting so candidates can decide how many miles they can commute.

How to Source the Best Candidates

When you are looking to source the best quality candidates for your open positions, make sure you have done the legwork to hire an "A Player". You can do this by making sure your company's perspective is aligned with the current market, you have taken into account the job responsibilities, as well as what type of characteristics you are looking for to fit your company culture. Then proceed to write a job posting to attract high-quality candidates.

Characteristics of design engineers

Find the Best Design Engineers

If you need to recruit the sharpest design engineers:

  • Look for candidates who have exemplary knowledge of the software, systems, and tools required for the job.
  • The best candidates are focused, self-motivated, and innovative.
  • Consider candidates who will best fit your current company culture and team environment.
  • Partner with a recruiting agency that specializes in engineering to find the best candidates.

How to Screen Candidates

You wrote a job posting, posted the position online, and received a lot more resumes than you’d bargained for! Next comes the enormous task of sorting through those resumes to eliminate the ones that are clearly not a good fit. Now, you have a stack of resumes for candidates who have potential. So how do you go about screening the remaining candidates?

It starts on the phone! As a recruiter, the goal of your telephone screening is to learn more about your candidates. You can confirm that they have the educational qualifications and relevant experience, but you also need to determine if they would fit into your company's culture. To make this job easier, use a system to consistently evaluate results. This way you can equally and objectively compare candidates and evaluate their "soft skills", like communication and thinking process. Download Amtec's Professional Assessment Questionnaire below to help with screening candidates.

Free Professional Assessment Questionnaire

An individually customized questionnaire that helps assess a candidate's competence with written communication skills, thinking processes, and other relevant skills.

How to Interview Candidates

At Amtec, we believe in the power of behavoral interview questions to go beyond the experience and skills listed on the candidate's resume. Although you will want to confirm in the interview that the candidate does indeed have the experience listed on their resume, your assessment needs to go much deeper than that. An interview using behavioral questions can help you determine how well the candidate will fit with your company culture.

Download Amtec's best practices on conducting super effective interviews to find the best candidates and fill your open jobs.

Behavioral Interview Guide

Get the info you need to hire the best design engineers

Free Interview Guide