OCCUPATION: TEST ENGINEER

Name: Raul Diaz Company: I-Flow Corp., Irvine Thumbs up: "I test medical devices. Presently we are developing infusion systems. I check to see how accurate and reliable these devices will be over their lifetime. I like interfacing between the development of the product and the testing process. I have always liked working with medical devices. It gives me a chance to keep up with new technologies. I've grown up with the industry. I started with pacemakers, which was the pioneer of implanted devices." Thumbs down: "I can't think of anything I dislike about my job. That's why I've been in the field for 15 years." Advice: "You must have perseverance. Approach a problem as a challenge, not a problem. There will always be problems, otherwise we'd be out of a job. So, thank God for problems." Salary range: In Orange County, test engineers earn between $30,000 and $70,000 annually. Fringe benefits: Usually include paid vacations, sick leave, retirement and health insurance plans; some employers also offer stock options and/or profit-sharing plans. Hours: Most test engineers work a 40-hour, five-day week and are expected to work overtime when necessary. Educational and training requirements: A bachelor's degree in engineering is usually the minimum requirement for most entry-level positions. Engineers whose work may affect the public welfare must be registered by the state. To obtain registration, engineers must have at least a bachelor's degree and three years' engineering experience, must pass the engineer-in-training examination and later the professional examination in mechanical engineering. While registration is not required for most jobs, a registered engineer may have a competitive edge for advancement. Size of work force: Medium. In Orange County, 2,800 people, or 0.2% of the labor force, work as test or mechanical engineers. Expected demand: Moderate growth. Orange County is becoming a center for high-tech and biomedical research and development companies. Opportunities to get in on the ground floor of developing new products, or to improve products already on the market, are multiplying. Job description: Test engineers select or develop the testing apparatus and the testing procedures used to verify or improve the quality of products. If problems arise during testing, or if the product does not perform according to specifications, test engineers may recommend changes in overall design, in particular components or materials, or in certain manufacturing procedures. Major employing industries: Engineering, high-tech, biomedical, pharmaceutical and manufacturing firms. For more information: To find out about registration, call the State Board of Professional Engineers' 24-hour automated line in Sacramento at (916) 263-2222. For general information about the profession, call the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Western Regional Services office in San Rafael, Calif., weekdays at (415) 499-1148 or (800) 624-9002. Researched by DALLAS M. JACKSON / Los Angeles Times

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