Back in late August I wrote about sustaining engineering and its relationship to test engineering. Recent events caused me to think about that some more, and I think I have a good list of the different types of test engineering positions.
See the original post. In short, he runs existing test systems. He may add minor modifications or improvements as necessary.
The engineer is part of a research group, either in an advanced R&D group (i.e. - Bell Labs), federal lab (CERN) or university setting. The test systems he builds are very specialized and are likely only used for a limited time.
His primary responsibility is building new systems. After that he hands them off to someone else. This is usually the province of a contractor, although most test engineers have done this at one point or another.
There is a LOT of information out there about software testing. I only have a couple of years of software test experience, so I hardly qualify as an expert, but in general software test is all about testing software - use cases, limit testing, memory leaks, boundary testing, etc. There is very little hardware involved, other than the computer itself.
Of course, you may be in a position where your job duties are a mixture of these categories. I've certainly done that in the past.
Okay, I've written enough on the the subject of test engineering as a career for a while. As I wrote on October 2nd, my next couple of posts will be on those test handbooks written by Agilent and Keithley.