Plant engineers work in manufacturing environments directing the smooth operation of the plant. These positions require a bachelor's degree in engineering, typically one that is industry related. Job growth for these positions is predicted to be slower than average.
Plant engineers typically work for power plants and manufacturing establishments. Entry-level positions often deal with maintenance and repair of plant equipment while senior positions are usually managerial in nature. Plant engineers need to have at least a bachelor's degree, and optional certification is available.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Voluntary certification|
|Projected Job Growth||1% between 2014 and 2024 for all industrial engineers*|
|Median Salary (2016)||$77,917**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
Salary for Plant Engineers
According to PayScale.com, plant engineers had a salary range of $50,781-$104,482 in January 2016. Engineers with greater experience and project management skills may expect higher salaries as they move to senior or supervisory positions.
Plant Engineer Duties
The daily routine of plant engineers includes providing assistance and direction to other plant personnel in proper plant procedures and manufacturing methods. Part of this routine involves providing guidance for preventative and repair maintenance to ensure that plant operations are able to meet output quotas and deadlines. Plant engineers also conduct operational tests to ensure that designs fall within the expected specifications. They may also design and improve processes to increase plant production efficiency and quality.
Plant engineer positions may include project team management tasks or the planning and execution of an engineering project in a designated area of expertise. Other daily tasks can include designing manufacturing layouts, coordinating equipment selections, interacting with contractors, and evaluating quotes. Plant engineers also provide support to ensure that plant operations meet environmental and safety protocols in a cost-effective manner.
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Requirements for Plant Engineers
Most employers require job applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in engineering. Depending on the industry of the employer, a degree in chemical, civil, electrical, or nuclear engineering may be more relevant to the desired job. Students enrolled in four-year engineering bachelor's degree programs may take courses in mathematics, physics, and life sciences in addition to courses specific to their chosen engineering concentration.
Certification isn't mandatory for most plant engineer positions, but it may help with career advancement as well as demonstrate competency to prospective employers. Aspiring plant engineers can earn the certified plant engineer (CPE) credential through the Association for Facilities Engineering (www.afe.org). Candidates must possess a combination of education and work experience requirements to take the eight-hour, multiple-choice CPE exam.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, industrial engineer jobs, which include plant engineer positions, will grow by one percent between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). As plants and manufacturing establishments look for ways to refine production procedures and reduce waste, plant engineers can experience favorable job prospects.
Plant engineers may improve career prospects by earning voluntary certification. Certification usually includes meeting education and work experience requirements as well as passing an exam. Professionals in this field earn a median salary around $78,000 per year.