Engineering Career Resources

Reliability Engineer Job Description

Reliability Engineer Job Description

Reliability engineers are engineering specialists concerned with evaluating the reliability of systems and specialized equipment. Their job is to evaluate the failure rates and maintenance costs of equipment and processes, and to manage the risks that could adversely affect business operations. Where necessary, they make suggestions and implement plans to reduce equipment failure and decrease maintenance costs. Reliability engineering is important because much of the cost of operating equipment or using a process is incurred while the equipment is being used, not when it is first set up. Thus, any reduction of operating costs can have a significant impact on total costs. In areas where safety is important, such as bridge-building or automotive design, the costs are often measured not just in money but in lives, which makes reliability engineering even more important in those fields.

Skills and qualifications

Usually, a bachelor's degree in engineering is a minimum requirement to become a reliability engineer. However, many positions require a graduate degree as well. Reliability engineers have to understand and critique the work of other engineers, therefore it is necessary for them to have broad knowledge across a variety of engineering disciplines and strong interpersonal skills. They must be familiar with using mathematical modelling of systems in order to make predictions about system failure. An understanding of human contributions to reliability is of inestimable importance, as even the best-designed systems will fail if human factors are ignored. Analytical and problem solving skills are essential to the profession.


Reliability engineers have a wide range of day-to-day job duties. Typically, when a new installation is added or an existing one is modified, it is the responsibility of the reliability engineer to evaluate the ways in which it can fail and to estimate the costs of such failure. Then, he or she can make recommendations to avoid failure or to minimize the costs. As the machinery or process is used, the engineer will continue to monitor its reliability and make recommendations as to replacing, modifying, or repairing it.

Reliability engineers usually work closely with project engineers to improve the reliability of existing installations and make sure that best practice is employed when setting up new ones. They are part of the team responsible for determining the criteria for equipment evaluation, testing, inspection, and selection of service providers who will be in charge of various maintenance tasks. A reliability engineer will usually also have a say in defining asset maintenance and risk management plans, and work on developing solutions to recurring equipment failures and any other issues that could adversely affect operations. He or she will also deal with regulatory compliance issues and provide support to technical staff.

Due to the cross-disciplinary nature of reliability engineering, the engineer will often provide support to more specialized personnel who may not have the breadth of understanding which the reliability engineer possesses. By undertaking these tasks and responsibilities, a good reliability engineer adds considerable value to the systems with which he or she works.