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Engineering Career Resources


Process Engineer Job Description

Process Engineer Job Description

Process engineers, sometimes also known as process systems engineers, work in a branch of chemical engineering and typically focus on the design and operation of processes assisted by computer-based methods. These processes can be biological, physical, biochemical or chemical in nature, and they can have applications in a wide range of industries, from mineral processing, food, petrochemical and biotechnological industries to chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

The job title of process engineer is applied to many occupational areas. The objective of a process engineer’s job is to develop and improve industrial processes to maintain efficiency and maximize profitability. Most process engineers work for manufacturing companies and are responsible for process design, one that will improve productivity and lower manufacturing costs. They are also usually in charge of process control and process operations.

Skills & qualifications

The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor's degree in such engineering specialties as chemical, industrial or mechanical engineering. Candidates can also enter the field with a bachelor’s or higher degree in metallurgy. For career advancement, a master's degree in engineering or business administration is preferred.

Process engineers must be familiar with all the relevant health and safety regulations, as their work includes assessing the environmental impact of industrial plants and conducting hazard and operability studies.

A process engineer must have strong technical skills and be an excellent analytical thinker. Interpersonal skills are important as well, as the process engineer will spend much time negotiating, persuading and compromising with employees, managers, suppliers, and experts from similar fields, for instance chemical engineers, when working on projects. And of course, today's engineer must be skilled in computer technology and be able to apply it to a project.

Work

Process engineers can be employed in companies of any size, as most companies in today’s competitive market must find ways to make their chemical processes more efficient, cost-effective, and compliant with environmental and safety regulations.

Day-to-day duties of process engineers vary depending on the industry. In the design process, engineers work with marketing and sales teams to create a manufacturing process for a product. They prepare detailed production plans to ensure cost-effectiveness and efficient production processes. They oversee design teams, providing direction and ensuring projects are completed within budget. Process engineers also work on continuous improvement by researching and purchasing new technology, improving production functionality, and implementing new technologies.

Process engineers are responsible for designing equipment, installing control systems and operating, testing and upgrading processes in industrial plants. They often work on several different projects at the same time. They assess equipment and processes, collect and review data, and conduct tests to see how the processes can be improved.

As technology advances, companies use process engineers in nontechnical roles more frequently, calling them business process engineers. In manufacturing companies they are known as manufacturing engineers, while medical and pharmaceutical companies call them chemical process engineers because they work with chemicals to safely manufacture medicines. In all these industries duties are similar because engineering skills are used to design and improve a process, and not a product.