A designated engineering representative (DER) is an engineer approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make decisions on aircraft design and development. Generally, DERs work for government contractors or are consultants for aerospace firms. If you are patient, detail oriented and have extensive knowledge of aviation rules and regulations, a career as a DER may be right for you.
Be a resident of the United States and have command of the English language. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Handbook, U.S. citizenship is not required for a DER appointment, but an applicant must be residing in the U.S. at the time of appointment.
Get a bachelor's degree in engineering mechanics, aerospace/aeronautical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering or a related degree. The degree must be from an accredited institution and counts toward the work experience requirement.
Work for four years as an engineer in the aviation industry with increasing responsibility. The FAA also recommends that the applicant have prior work experience with the FAA approvals process and procedures.
Decide on a specialty. DERs can only be approved for certain components of aviation. Depending on the specialty selected, applicants may need a pilot's license, extensive knowledge of FAA software and classes in structural design.
Have three references who can verify your technical expertise. These individuals must give evidence of your expertise in the technical specialty chosen. The FAA allows technical references to be character references as well.
Submit a completed application to the DOT/FAA Aircraft Certification Office. An evaluation panel, consisting of at least two people from the FAA, reviews each application. When a decision is rendered, a letter is sent to the applicant.