The process engineer is a specialist in chemical engineering, and it requires a specific skill set.
The person must be able to research, plan, design, develop, test, and implement processes used for production or processing within an organization. Process engineers are also responsible for overseeing the installation of equipment and its operation. The process engineer career path can be challenging but rewarding with many opportunities for advancement. Read on below to learn more about what you need to know before pursuing this profession!
1. What Is a Process Engineer?
A process engineer is a professional who specializes in chemical engineering. They use their skills to research, plan, design, develop, test, and implement processes for production or processing within an organization. Process engineers are also responsible for overseeing the installation of equipment and its operation. The process engineer career path can be challenging and rewarding, with many opportunities for advancement.
Process engineers develop and test processes for manufacturing or processing products. They often specialize in a particular process such as chemical, biochemical, biological, thermal, or petroleum processing. Process engineers research advanced process equipment and the latest techniques to improve production capabilities and cut costs. This requires them to work closely with other professionals, including chemists, mechanical engineers, computer engineers, and project managers.
2. The Process Engineer’s Role
Process engineers typically work regular hours in an office environment during the week, although overtime may be required depending upon deadlines or projects. They spend most of their time researching advanced technologies used for manufacturing processes, testing manufacturing equipment, and writing reports based on their findings. Process engineers must stay abreast of industry changes and new technology and may need to travel and go on business trips.
Process engineers often specialize in a particular area of chemical, biochemical, biological, or petroleum processing. They perform physical and chemical analyses of substances through laboratory testing, and this involves using specialized equipment such as spectrophotometers and chromatographs and computer software for data analysis and modeling. Depending upon the industry, process engineers may also participate in designing and testing new products or equipment, foreign research markets, or train employees on safe practices and procedures.
3. Process Engineer Salary Information
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), process engineers earned an average annual salary of $89,650 in 2015. The BLS also reported that process engineers working in the computer and electronic product manufacturing industry earned an average of $103,520 per year. Process engineers employed by oil and gas extraction companies had the highest annual mean wage at $112,050.
4. Process Engineer Career Requirements
Although there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a process engineer, most employers prefer that candidates have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Some employers also require that applicants have specific experience with certain equipment and instrumentation used to develop processes. Many chemical engineers enter the industry after graduation, although some continue their education by completing master’s degrees or PhDs in the field.
Process engineers should have strong problem-solving skills and the ability to work independently and in a team environment. They also need excellent communication, documentation, and organization skills. In addition to solid engineering knowledge, process engineers should adapt quickly to changing priorities and adapt to new technologies. If possible, those interested in this profession should gain practical experience by completing internships or participating in chemical engineering co-op programs.
5. Process Engineer Career Outlook
The BLS expects employment for chemical engineers to grow at a rate of seven percent through 2022. Growth may be slower than average due to outsourcing and engineering services that enable companies to develop their products and processes. Companies in the oil and gas industry may need to hire additional engineers due to recent advancements in fracking technology. The growing use of biotechnology for food production and other applications may also increase the demand for process engineers.
6. The Process Engineer’s Environment
Process engineers often work regular hours in an office environment during the week, although overtime may be required depending upon deadlines or projects. They spend most of their time researching advanced technologies used for manufacturing processes, testing manufacturing equipment, and writing reports based on their findings. Process engineers must stay abreast of industry changes and new technology and may need to travel and go on business trips.
7. The Process Engineer’s Day-to-Day Tasks
Process engineers spend most of their days performing research, testing in a specialized lab setting, and writing reports based on their findings. They must keep abreast of the latest industry changes and new technology during their employment.
8. Does a Process Engineer Need to know How to Operate the Equipment?
You will often work alongside other professionals, including chemists and plant operators, as part of this job. To become a practical process engineer, you must have knowledge in these areas and your specialty field. You should also take courses that can help you develop skills needed for this career, such as computer software such as Process Simulate and chemical engineering software.
9. What Skills Are Required to Become a Process Engineer?
Some of the skills required to become a process engineer include problem-solving solid skills, working independently and in a team environment, excellent communication, documentation, and organization skills. You should also have strong engineering knowledge and adapt quickly to changing priorities and adapting to new technologies. If possible, those interested in this profession should gain practical experience by completing internships or participating in chemical engineering co-op programs.
10. Pros and Cons of Being a Process Engineer
Some of the pros of being a process engineer include:
- Work in a fast-paced environment and the opportunity to work on new technologies
- Exposure to various industries and continued learning
- Able to work in teams with chemists, plant operators, and other engineers
- Research new processes, technologies, and equipment
- Work with colleagues to develop the best solutions for problems
- The opportunity to work on projects away from home or travel for periods
Some of the cons of being a process engineer include:
- Working long hours when deadlines are tight or significant problems need to be solved
- Having to travel, sometimes for extended periods
- A relatively low salary compared to other engineers with similar education and experience levels.
- Overtime is often required, and weekends may be necessary for working during deadlines or emergencies.
11. Top Recruiting Companies for a Process Engineer
There are many top recruiting companies for a process engineer. The most well-known and respected companies are ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and Chevron. However, many smaller companies are looking for talented engineers. It is essential to do your research before deciding which company is the best fit for you. It is also important to note that working for a process engineering company, in general, will require you to have some knowledge of chemistry and math.
ExxonMobil has long been regarded as one of the best companies in the industry. They are always looking for new talent, especially with recent Qatar and Papua New Guinea acquisitions. The company is looking for engineers with experience in the oil and gas industry who have a deep understanding of both the engineering aspects of process engineering and the business aspects.
One of the most respected companies for an engineer, Shell provides opportunities worldwide. The company hires experienced professionals in all areas, especially process engineering. In 2011, the company looked for employees experienced in scaling up pilot plants into full-sized commercial facilities. In 2014, Shell announced plans to hire engineers in 2015 who have a deep knowledge of risk management and can help with projects in Oman and Qatar.
This oil giant is always looking for engineers to join its team. Many of their jobs are not available on their website, but there are still many resources. One recommended resource is Tom White, who regularly posts new jobs on his Twitter account under the handle @bp_tomwhite.
This oil company has a healthy amount of openings for engineers looking to start in the process engineering field. This is a good company for those with little to no experience as they are always looking to train new talent.
In addition, here are some other companies that may hire process engineers: ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Orica, Saudi Aramco, Petrobras, and Baker Hughes.
12. Best Colleges to Study Process Engineering
Many schools offer courses in this field. Some of the most well-known and respected schools include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Texas at Austin, Purdue University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, and Rice University. However, many smaller schools offer excellent education as well. It is essential to do your research before deciding which school is the best fit for you. It is also important to note that attending a university will require you to know chemistry and math.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign The College offers a bachelor’s degree program in chemical engineering that the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET accredits. The course work covers a general foundation in engineering sciences, including mathematics, physics, chemistry, and technical writing.
Georgia Institute of Technology This school offers students both an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering and a professional master’s degree program. In addition to the courses offered at the undergraduate level, students can choose to participate in an Honors Program.
The University of Texas at Austin offers a process engineering program for undergraduates where many different types of courses are offered, including mathematical analysis, fluid mechanics, transport phenomena, and unit operations. At the graduate level, they offer both master’s degree programs and further education.
Purdue University offers an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering with two concentrations: biochemical and petroleum. There are also many different courses that students can take at their graduate level as well including mass transfer, reactor design, and process control.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) The chemical engineering department at this school is known for its innovative teaching style. At this school, students are allowed to be more independent and control the course work. They also have a very active undergraduate research program that allows students to work on real-life projects with faculty members.
Stanford University This university offers both an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering and many master’s degree programs. There is also an option at the undergraduate and graduate levels for students to become involved in the Engineering Without Borders program. This program provides students with opportunities to partner up with other schools or organizations to make a difference worldwide.
Rice University offers two degrees, a bachelor of science in chemical engineering and a master of engineering in chemical and biomolecular engineering. Another program that this school offers is the Petroleum Engineering Program which allows students to get degrees in both Chemical Engineering and Petroleum Engineering in just five years.
Process engineer career path is an excellent option if you are looking for stability and job security. You can have a long and prosperous career in process engineering with the right skills. By learning about different processes and studying fluid mechanics, you can set yourself up for success as a process engineer. If you are interested in this field, be sure to reach out to us to help get you started on the right track!