Process Engineer

Introduction

As a Process Engineer you will study the way raw materials are used in the manufacturing process, and how they eventually form the finished product. You will help to develop new processes, and improve existing ones.

Work Activities

As a Process Engineer you will study the way raw materials are used in the manufacturing process, and how they eventually form the finished product. You will help to develop new processes, and improve existing ones. Products you could be working with include:

  • paints
  • food
  • oil
  • green energies
  • healthcare products
  • cars
  • glass
  • plastics

Your role will be very varied as you take control of the the whole manufacturing process, from the start to the finished product. Your duties could include:

  • the design and installation of new or improved manufacturing systems
  • using data analysis tools to help you analyse new and current systems
  • undertaking laboratory based quality checks, to make sure everything performs as it should
  • carrying out laboratory and production-line based safety and environmental tests
  • creating documentation, supporting the new systems and processes
  • communicating and explaining proposed changes to the management team
  • supporting and training other engineers
  • working with many differerent departments, including production, planning and design

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Process Engineer, you'll need:

  • IT skills, including the use of simulation and manufacturing systems software
  • network design skills
  • system testing skills
  • to be willing to keep up to date with advances in technology in this fast-changing area
  • the ability to work to strict deadlines
  • problem solving skills
  • the ability to lead a team of Engineers

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates below are approximate:

  • Starting: £30,000 - £34,500
  • With experience: £36,500 - £43,000
  • Senior Process Engineers earn £46,000 - £50,500

Hours of work

You will most likely work around 35-40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Occasional late finishes and weekend work may be required.

Where could I work?

Employers include manufacturing firms in the following industries:

  • renewable energy
  • chemical
  • aerospace
  • automotive
  • oil & gas
  • food and drink
  • energy

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, trade industry publications, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Find a Job website.

Vacancies can also be found through specialist engineering recruitment.

GreenJobs is a job board aimed at people interested in green careers:

www.greenjobs.co.uk/browse-jobs/engineering/

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

Normally, employers will expect you to have a HND, HNC or a degree in order to enter this career. However, if you are thinking about leaving school after finishing your A levels, you could get a lower level job in one of the following fields and training on-the-job:

  • pharmaceuticals
  • chemical process industry
  • mechanical engineering
  • manufacturing engineering
  • production engineering

After completing your A levels, you might be able to get onto a Higher Level or Degree Apprenticeship in a relevant area. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

Then, once you have gained relevant industry skills and experience, you might be able to apply for Process Engineer positions.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Progression

Depending on the qualification, Process Engineers can progress by taking on more responsibility for the management of engineering projects and teams of Process Engineers.

Some Process Engineers choose to become self-employed or take contract work on a freelance basis.

Work Experience

Previous experience within an engineering position (such as an electrical, chemical and mechanical) would be useful for this career.

Experience using computer aided design would also be really helpful to get into this career.

Qualifications

To enter a relevant degree course, the usual requirements are:

  • 2/3 A levels, usually including chemistry
  • GCSEs in your A level subjects at grade C/4 or above
  • a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above
  • English, maths and chemistry subject are usually required at GCSE at grade C/4 or above

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Other qualifications include:

  • BTEC level 3 qualifications
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

Check prospectuses carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Many people enter this career after gaining relevant skills, and perhaps qualifications, in a related area such as:

  • pharmaceuticals
  • chemical process industry
  • mechanical engineering
  • manufacturing engineering
  • production engineering

Technical experience is highly valued in this career.

Further Information

Semta

Skills for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies

Address: 14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT

Tel: 0845 6439001

Email: customerservices@semta.org.uk

Website: www.semta.org.uk

Tomorrow's Engineers

Publisher: EngineeringUK and Royal Academy of Engineering

Email: contactus@tomorrowsengineers.org.uk

Website: www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk

Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)

Address: Blue Court, Church Lane, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire WD4 8JP

Tel: 01923 260000

Email: ecitb@ecitb.org.uk

Website: careers.ecitb.org.uk

Scottish Engineering

Scottish enquiries

Address: 105 West George Street, Glasgow G2 1QL

Tel: 0141 2213181

Email: consult@scottishengineering.org.uk

Website: www.scottishengineering.org.uk

Engineering Council

Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX

Tel: 020 3206 0500

Website: www.engc.org.uk

Engineering Training Council Northern Ireland (ETC NI)

Northern Ireland Enquiries

Address: Sketrick House, Ards Business Park, Jubilee Road, Newtownards BT23 4YH

Tel: 028 9182 2377

Email: info@etcni.org.uk

Website: www.etcni.org.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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