Disclaimer Note: The content in is blog is just for informational purposes ONLY. We ARE NOT licensed, certified, or a party/entity to provide help in going into this profession.
From start to finish, the role of a process engineer is crucial to the continuous process of any chemical or biochemical production. Often, process engineers work for a production environment or manufacturing facility to ensure that the specific equipment, systems, and methods used for a final product operate as efficiently as possible.
To ensure all operations run smoothly, process engineers must research, analyze, and study the quality and safety behind a chemical or biochemical production.
Some process engineers work for small businesses, while others work for large businesses, such as a laboratory or industrial plant. Additionally, some process engineers work on a salaried basis, while others work as independent contractors or consultants.
Regardless of company size and salary, process engineers are responsible for acquiring the proper equipment and processes to convert raw materials into useable, finished products. Examples of finished products include plastics, oil and gas, food, beverages, clothes, and paper.
At OnePointe Solutions, we have supplied process engineers with the proper lab casework and lab furniture needed for the industrial plants they work including stainless steel cabinets and custom metal cabinets to store raw materials, custom workbenches and lab tables for daily tasks and processing, fume hoods for experiments, and specific laboratory countertops to handle the constant use of chemicals and other harsh substances to name a few.
Here, we are going to discuss the significance of a process engineer, including the necessary qualifications, certifications, licenses, and average salary range.
Job Description: Process Engineer
A process engineer manages the transformation of chemical substances into high-quality products safe for use. Process engineers work within a broad range of industries, including agriculture, automotive, biotechnical, chemical, food, pharmaceutical, software development, and more.
Additionally, process engineers serve as the primary liaison between technical staff and managers during a chemical, petrochemical, agricultural, or mineral process. Depending on the type of process, process engineers will need to apply their formal knowledge of mathematics, biology, physics, and chemistry to perform efficient research for the complex process of transforming chemical substances into safe end products.
Now, let’s discuss some of the essential daily responsibilities of a process engineer, including special skills.
From start to finish of a production plan, process engineers oversee the following:
- Safety procedures
- Equipment usage and layout
- Production estimates
- Controlled chemical processes
Special Skills & Qualifications
While special skills are often innate, one can acquire more skills as a process engineer by gaining relevant work experience in the field. Some of the special skills and qualifications for a process engineer may include:
- Strong analytical skills
- Creative thinking
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills
- Ability to conduct research thoroughly
- Proficient in mathematics and computer science
- Excellent problem-solver
- Familiarity with machinery
- Software skills
- Collaborative nature
Qualifications to Become a Process Engineer
To become a process engineer, one needs to utilize both scientific and administrative skills. Due to the sensitive nature of hazardous chemicals, a process engineer has many responsibilities to fulfill.
Some of a process engineer’s qualifications include:
- Overseeing equipment and site safety due to dangerous chemicals
- Establishing safety procedures
- Evaluating the entire chemical process
- Providing efficient equipment and monitoring equipment usage
- Utilizing expert knowledge of process systems engineering, mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physics
- Estimating future production costs
- Conducting controlled chemical processes to separate liquid and gas components
Most process engineers are required to complete formal education in the field. Process engineers must obtain a bachelor’s degree in chemical, manufacturing, or industrial engineering at an accredited college or university.
Additionally, obtaining a concentration in chemistry, mathematics, or management proves beneficial. Note that advanced degrees may be required for certain senior positions.
Before finalizing your selection for a university, be certain that the institution is accredited according to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET accepts associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in applied and natural science, computer science, engineering, and engineering technology.
Presently, aspiring process engineers have access to approximately 4,005 programs in 32 countries.
After obtaining a formal bachelor’s degree in chemical, manufacturing, or industrial engineering from an ABET-accredited program, entry-level process engineers may begin the search for a relevant position within an office or laboratory. Once a process engineer begins working with a company, on-site training will usually occur.
By learning the different types of work equipment to the details behind the use of certain chemical products, you will gain plenty of on-site exposure and required knowledge to accelerate in the industry.
Initially, a process engineer’s formal training occurs during the educational period or “in the classroom.” From there, you will be able to learn the many facets of the job, including physics, organic chemistry, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and process design.
Many educational programs also offer internships, where you can get the opportunity to learn and use the equipment you will need on-site.
After completing your formal education, you will undergo on-site training at a relevant position. Process engineers typically work for a factory or industrial plant, where they will acquire the necessary experience and skills for a continuous chemical process.
Various certificates prove worthwhile for process engineers, particularly once they become more senior in their roles. Some of the most beneficial certificates to consider include:
Certified Manufacturing Engineers Certification (CMfgE)
- Issued by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers
- Need a minimum of eight years of manufacturing-related education and work experience
- Must take and pass an exam
- Renew this certification every three years
Center for Chemical Process Safety Professional Certification (CCPSC)
- Illustrates that a process engineer can follow formal safety practices
- Must take and pass an exam
- Submit three professional references
- Complete a required amount of professional development hours, varying based on certification length
- A quality management certification for eliminating errors and defects in processes and products
- Earn yellow, green, black, and master black belts from the American Society of Quality and the International Association for Six Sigma Certification
- Undergo approved training
- Take and pass an exam
- Complete a live project
Average Process Engineer Salary and Benefits
As of January 2022, the average national salary for a process engineer is $84,164 per year. Depending on years of experience, the salary range falls between $79,870 to $91,458 per year.
While most process engineers work as full-time employees, salaries will vary based on education level, work experience, and the size, type, and area in which they work.
Do You Want to Become a Process Engineer?
As you begin the path to becoming a process engineer, you need to consider the obvious. Is this particular role suitable for your wants and needs?
If so, let’s review the path to becoming a process engineer:
1. Obtain a Formal Degree
Regardless of where you end up working as a process engineer, you first need to obtain an official bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is a basic requirement for any process engineering role. Recommended degrees include mechanical, chemical, or industrial engineering from an accredited institution.
Depending on the workplace and more senior positions, you may also consider earning a master’s degree.
2. Earn Special Certifications
Though not required, process engineering certifications come highly recommended. For instance, consider undergoing the process of a Six Sigma certification when looking for a high-level process engineering position.
Having one or more certifications will allow you to gain more exposure in your desired field and can increase the possibility for greater job opportunities down the line. If your certification requires renewal, remember to renew when needed.
3. Begin the Job Search
Now that you have completed formal education in process engineering and earned a few certifications, you are ready to begin your job search. View each of your job applications carefully before submitting, making sure that positions match your current level of education and experience.
Process engineers are vital to their industries, as they tackle various obstacles daily. Working with hazardous chemicals can be dangerous, but process engineers are properly trained to enforce safety procedures and handle chemicals with care.
Process engineers working on special projects may work longer hours, but most are employed on a full-time basis.
Some of the typical tasks that process engineers perform include:
- Liaise between the technical staff and managers on-site
- Navigate plants and factory floors containing special plant equipment
- Operate and understand the use of heavy machinery
- Enforce safety procedures and equipment, including sensors, hard hats, vests, and protective shoes
- Utilize and understand expert software systems, including computer simulations
- Generate special reports presentations
- Maintain factory equipment
While working in small or large factories, industrial plants, and manufacturing facilities, process engineers seek opportunities in the following places:
- Nuclear plants
- Insurance firms
- Oil companies
- Food manufacturers
- Chemical refinery companies
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Water treatment facilities
Need Help Designing a Lab?
If you’re a process engineer, we can help you design a lab space for your workload by supplying you with proper lab furniture to better assist your typical experiments and analysis of materials. From chemical-resistant countertops and lab-grade cabinets to custom lab stations for certain processes and more, we are your one-stop shop for all your laboratory needs.
Give us a call at (866) 222-7494 to speak to a laboratory specialist today.