Process Development Technologist
Process Development Technologists plan and develop the steps and actions needed to make products from raw materials. They research new processes and improve existing ones, aiming to make them safe, efficient, economical and environmentally friendly. They work in a variety of manufacturing and processing industries, such as metals, food and drink, and pharmaceuticals.
Also known as
- Scientist, Process Development
- Process Development Scientist
As a Process Development Technologist, you will find and develop new processes, as well as improving existing ones. You work to reduce costs, increase efficiency and safety, improve product quality and find environmentally-friendly processes.
Once Process Development Technologists have developed a research prototype of a new product in the laboratory, Process Development Scientists find out how to standardise the item and produce it on a larger scale. This is known as 'scaling up'. Process Development Technologists study technical reports of the prototype. Then, you write your own reports to specify how the process needed to develop it should work.
You are very much part of a team, working alongside people such as Research Scientists, Engineers and Technicians. For example, you discuss computer-aided design (CAD) models and research papers. You get advice from Engineers to make sure the right materials are available to make the product.
Process Development Technologists can work with suppliers, Contract Managers and customers. You might lead teams, including other Scientists and Technicians, and have overall responsibility for the cost, safety and timescale of the project.
Increasingly, Process Development Technologists also need to take account of environmental issues. You consider ways to reduce the amount of energy used in the process, or the possibility of using materials that can be recycled.
You plan and carry out a pilot test on the most promising process, carefully recording and analysing the results. This might uncover technical problems that you must solve before manufacturing can begin.
When a decision has been made on the best process to use, you set up and test the process in the laboratory, studying it carefully.
Process Development Technologists often use sophisticated technology, including computers, to monitor process and production trials, and to find and identify faults. You use technology to measure and control conditions such as pressure and temperature, for example, in metal and aerospace industries.
Process Development Technologists also carry out risk assessments to make sure the process is safe, and to identify any training needs for the staff who will use the new equipment and technology. You check and follow safety laws and regulations.
You evaluate the process trials, identifying and tackling any problems. Depending on the results of these trials, full-scale production will then begin.
Process Development Technologists regularly evaluate production, demonstrating that the process is an improvement on the previous one and identifying any new steps, methods or technology needed to make sure the process keeps improving. If you need to, you will advise that a piece of machinery or a raw material must be changed to make the process more efficient or to reduce costs.
Process Development Technologists sometimes need to wear protective clothing such as gloves and masks. You might have to travel to production sites, to assess a trial or full-scale production.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Process Development Technologist, you'll need:
- an investigative and analytical mind
- practical lab skills
- a methodical approach to testing new processes
- good problem-solving skills
- strong communication and teamwork skills, to work with people such as other Scientists, Technicians, Engineers, Managers and equipment suppliers
- the ability to organise and motivate people, if you lead a team of Technicians
- project management skills
- the ability to write clear and accurate reports
- willingness to develop new knowledge and keep up to date with technology
- good maths and computer skills
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £30,500 - £34,000
- With experience: £37,000 - £45,500
- Senior Process Development Technologists earn £49,500 - £54,000
Hours of work
Process Development Technologists work 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However, you might need to work long hours, including late finishes, weekend work and shift work, especially as deadlines approach or when trials must be completed at certain times.
Where could I work?
Employers are a very wide range of firms involved in manufacturing and processing, including metals, food and drink, colour technology, pharmaceuticals, and the motor and aerospace industries.
Opportunities for Process Development Technologists occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in science magazines such as New Scientist (which also posts jobs on its website), on job boards, and in national/local newspapers.
Entry Routes and Training
To become a Process Development Technologist, you'll usually need a degree in a science or engineering subject relevant to the area of industry you want to work in.
Process Development Technologists work in a wide variety of industries, so a number of degree subjects could be relevant. These include:
- chemical engineering
- mechanical engineering
- electronics/electrical engineering
- process engineering
- systems engineering
- food science/technology
- materials science
Some universities offer courses with a foundation year. This is an extra year for students who don't have the specified science A levels for entry.
Entry with a relevant HND or foundation degree might also be possible, although this would usually be into a technician-level post.
A small number of universities offer integrated science degrees (ISciences), aiming to give graduates interdisciplinary skills and knowledge through a problem-based approach.
While a postgraduate qualification isn't usually essential for entry, some entrants have completed Masters degrees and PhDs. Some employers want applicants to have a postgraduate qualification.
A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article '
Employers might enable you to study for a postgraduate qualification part-time while in employment, for example, through day-release. Otherwise, training is usually on-the-job, covering areas such as product knowledge, health and safety, and current processes.
Previous experience working as Technicians in processing industries would be really useful for this career.
Progression in this career might be to a project management post or into a specialist technical area.
For entry to a degree in a science subject, the usual minimum requirement is:
- 2/3 A levels, including at least one science subject
- GCSEs at grade C/4 and above in your A level subjects
- a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 and above, including English and maths
You might also need A level maths, often depending on the degree subject. For example, you'll usually need A level maths to do a physics degree. You should check prospectuses carefully to check which, and how many, science/maths subjects you need.
Alternatives to A levels include:
- BTEC level 3 qualifications
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
However, course requirements vary, so please check prospectuses carefully.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
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.
Some entrants have developed skills by working as technicians in processing industries.
If you don't have the qualifications you need to enter a degree, foundation degree or HND course, you might be able to start one after completing an Access course, for example, Access to Science. You don't usually need any qualifications to enter an Access course, although you should check this with the course provider.
A foundation year before the start of a science or engineering degree or HND is available at some universities and higher education colleges for students who don't have traditional science A levels (or equivalent).
Science degrees and postgraduate courses are available from the Open University.
Sponsorship for higher education study of science subjects is available from industrial organisations, some government departments and private companies.
- 4% of people in occupations such as process development science work part-time.
- 13% have flexible hours.
- 4% of employees work on a temporary basis.
Publisher: Reed Business Information Ltd
Open University (OU)
Tel: 0845 3006090
Address: Charles Darwin House, 12 Roger Street, London WC1N 2JU
Tel: 020 7685 2400
Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500
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
Royal Society of Biology
Address: Charles Darwin House, 12 Roger Street, London WC1N 2JU
Tel: 020 7685 2550
Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST)
Address: 5 Cambridge Court, 210 Shepherds Bush Road, London W6 7NJ
Tel: 020 7603 6316
Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3)
Address: 1 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DB
Tel: 020 7451 7300
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Address: 76 Portland Place, London W1B 1NT
Tel: 020 7470 4800
Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
Address: Thomas Graham House, Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 0WF
Tel: 01223 420066
Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)
Address: Davis Building, Railway Terrace, Rugby CV21 3HQ
Tel: 01788 578214
Publisher: Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)
People Exchange Cymru (PEC)
Public sector recruitment portal for Wales