Through my career so far, I have always done work involving developing software to test electronics. This has involved writing diagnostics in embedded C/C++ for ARM controller, and even such high level stuff as writing C# code to test devices connected by RS-232, USB, and Ethernet. However, in every case it always revolved around electrical-engineering. Or, developing software for test/instrumentation of electrically-engineered products. Most commonly some sort of test/instrumentation equipment needing automated tests developed, and data/result logging capabilities. I have known quite a few of these types of engineers, but we really have no idea how to describe what we actually do.

Is there a professional classification for this kind of work? Are there any known groups or communities for this kind of engineering work?

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    \$\begingroup\$ these guys are mostly EEs with some SW background, as for my experience the pure SW guys have a very little idea about hardware and how to interface it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eugene Sh.
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ somewhat related: Specialized stack for Software Quality Assurance & Testing \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 18:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev Thanks but not even close. \$\endgroup\$
    – Snoop
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EugeneSh. Yes that is that exact kind of thing I am talking about. \$\endgroup\$
    – Snoop
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


Although I paid dues for a PEng license for over 30 yrs as an EE, (with zero benefit) we never had sub-classifications for TE's even though I consider myself one after doing R&D for 10yrs then later Manufacturing, Design, Test, Management etc.

Now many jobs for TE's exist and no affiliations or associative Titles are needed.

Just relevant experience is needed in the technology being tested.

For example in 1983, Burroughs hired me as an HDD 5.25" specialist Test Engineer and I knew nothing about hard disk drives or the specialized test equipment. But I knew everything about the sub-circuits (servos, PLL, data separators, and high tech measurement methods common to many technologies)

Don't worry about affiliations, just look at job requirements and skills you are learning or can learn quickly.

Just remember a Test Engineer is invaluable because "if you cannot specify it or measure it, ** you cannot control it**.". Thus TE's learn or know what QA and Design Engineers must know to ensure a product will work. They know many software tools, hardware issues, EMI, statistics and how to use Object Oriented block diagrams to design quickly high level testers or. modify scripts to automate test vectors and work in both analog, digital, time and frequency domains whenever required. They also know how to demand Design Specs up front before designing a Test and how to document in a Heirarchichal Input, Process Output or HIPO method with categories for external stresses (environmental) and Functional requirements and have a good graphical or statistical skill to report the results.

Although "Software" Test Engineers need to know less about the hardware, it is helpful.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is very relevant to what I am asking. I have seen the job title Test-Engineer to describe these positions in the past. However, whenever I bring up the subject, people say "oh, you mean software QA testing?" Oh, you mean "unit testing"? Well no not exactly... \$\endgroup\$
    – Snoop
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ When I was TE Mgr 3 yrs at this HDD factory after knowing ziltch about HDD's on day1 , we had component testers, cable testers, a dozen ATE ICT's a couple functional Testers, hundreds of Unit custom testers, and dozens of mainframes and personal computers for life test, burn in test or Final Test. But we relied on S/W support for microcode self test \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Running ICT on the HP-3070B was one of the first things I had to do when I began my career as a tester. Remember those things? \$\endgroup\$
    – Snoop
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ We had different units, but I remember by first SCADA design in 77 using two HP9825 calculators to control a remote rocket payload umbilical with 10 remote programmable battery chargers, and 96 Power relays and 96 Analog inputs to a (smarter) HP (yet dumb) terminal, so it looked like a spreadsheet with inverted cells out of tolerance. I wrote all the s/w and made the keycode into a programmable remote toggle command or voltage selector and adjust --++ \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ When you said, "Now many jobs exist..." did you mean that? Or, "not many jobs exist..."? I had no idea either way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Snoop
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 19:21

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