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Process Control Engineer: Salary, Duties and Requirements

A process control engineer requires significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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There are many processes that take place at manufacturing facilities, and process control engineers oversee that they happen according to plan. As manufacturing plants may process chemicals, metals, and other materials, process control engineers have a variety of employment options to consider, and a bachelor's degree in engineering is required for all.

Essential Information

A process control engineer designs and maintains quality assurance on the control systems in manufacturing plants producing polymers, steel, aluminum, glass fiber, or petroleum products. Education requirements for this high-paying career typically include a bachelor's degree in engineering or in a more specific area, such as electrical engineering, chemistry or computer science, depending on the student's career goals.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in engineering or relevant field
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%* (for chemical engineers)
Median Salary (2016) $102,166** (for advanced process control engineers)

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com

Salary Information for Process Control Engineers

Process control engineers operate in different engineering sectors on widely varying processes, but they're more frequently found in chemical engineering. Chemical engineers' median income in 2015 was $97,360, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary range for most advanced process control engineers, who manage processes that require them to account for multiple variables, was $68,145-$128,886, according to PayScale.com in October 2016.

Job Duties for Process Control Engineers

Process control engineers design, test, troubleshoot, and oversee implementation of new processes. In plants with established control systems, the process control engineers may design and install retrofits to existing systems and troubleshoot hardware, software, and instrument problems. Overseeing the larger production picture, these engineers create and implement new strategies to improve process efficiency, as well as supporting start-up activities. Process control engineers are often responsible for creating or maintaining automation processes, usually in chemical or mechanical industries.

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Education and Career Requirements for Process Control Engineers

Entry-level process control engineers must normally have a bachelor's degree, though career advancement chances may be improved by a graduate degree. Though uncommon, undergraduate programs in process control systems award dual bachelor's degrees in chemical engineering and systems engineering. Process control engineers may also seek a degree specifically in the industry they will choose to work in. Chemical engineering, chemistry, computer science, and electrical engineering are all common degrees sought by employers of process control engineers.

Process control engineers may be required to fill team leadership positions. This often requires leadership experience and skills, and the ability to train team members in new subject areas. Conflict resolution skills may also be necessary or helpful. Some employers may wish to hire engineers who have knowledge of specific processes, automated manufacturing hardware, or computer applications.

Usually found in chemical engineering related industries, process control engineers monitor the regular processes of manufacturing facilities, fix problems that arise, and make recommendations on how to improve process efficiency. Salary for this field is on the mid-to-high end, with PayScale.com reporting an annual salary range between almost $70,000 and $130,000 as of October 2016. Most employers prefer candidates who hold bachelor's degrees related to chemical engineering, although employers may prefer candidates who hold graduate degrees and who have management experience.

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