Production engineering programs are more commonly found as manufacturing engineering programs. Bachelor's degree programs in this field prepare students for careers as production and manufacturing engineers, while graduate degree programs can help individuals to obtain positions in management or to teach at the college level. A thesis or research project may be required within master's degree program, and Ph.D. students often need to complete a dissertation prior to graduation.
Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Engineering
These 4-year programs prepare students to plan and carry out engineering projects, program automated manufacturing equipment and solve problems in the manufacturing process as they arise. Because these programs are commonly very hands-on and involve the use of heavy machinery, some programs require students to purchase tools and wear uniforms to ensure safety. Applicants are typically required to be high school graduates, preferably with an aptitude for math and science.
Product engineers optimize the fabrication process by using computer technology to model products in 3-D programming machines to perform repetitive tasks and ensure consistent quality. Students can prepare for leadership positions in the manufacturing sector by studying:
- Automated manufacturing
- Engineering economics
- Mechanics of materials
- Quality control
Alternatively, an aspiring production engineer could complete a few different bachelor's degree programs, such as:
- Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering
- Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
- Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology
- Bachelor of Science in Production Management
Master's Degree in Manufacturing Engineering
Training is available through Master of Science and Master of Engineering programs. Some programs allow for concentrations in topics like process design, product development, automation integration and enterprise optimization. Because this field can be so hands-on in nature, programs tend to reinforce coursework with participation in a significant amount of projects. These programs can be completed in 12-24 months of full-time study. Thesis and project-based options are available, in addition to online programs.
Applicants must typically have completed a bachelor's degree in a field closely related to engineering, and may need to have earned a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in their undergraduate major. Some programs are designed for students working as full-time engineers and require admission seekers to be employed in the field.
Students can learn to integrate safety procedures and automation into systems design and otherwise operate manufacturing businesses. Coursework offerings available to students include:
- Cost analysis
- Reliability engineering
- Research methods
- Resource planning
- Risk control
Doctor of Philosophy Programs in Engineering
Because doctoral programs are typically tailored to dissertation research interests, industrial and mechanical engineering programs often have focus areas in the field of manufacturing engineering. Students learn to innovate, creating more environmentally responsible processes and designing processes that increase accuracy and precision for micromanufacturing of medical devices. Doctoral programs teach scholars the current understanding of technological processes because manufacturing innovation requires comfort with technical skills.
Admission seekers are typically required to have earned a bachelor's degree in an engineering field and usually need to meet a minimum GPA requirement. Applicants who have completed a bachelor's degree can expect to take 5-6 years to complete coursework and a dissertation.
Scholars learn to analyze processes in order to make smarter tools with less need for human intervention in the manufacturing of goods. Courses and training experiences at this level are available in:
- Machine vision
- Materials processing
- Metal forming
- Micromechanical machining
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there were 169,390 industrial production managers working in the U.S. as of May 2015. Bachelor's program graduates working in the manufacturing industry can be qualified to find jobs as:
- Line supervisors
- Manufacturing managers
- Production technologists
- Supply chain managers
- Technical sales representatives
The BLS predicted a four percent decline in industrial production manager jobs from 2014-2024. Despite this, prospective industrial production managers may have luck finding jobs due to previously outsourced jobs being brought back into the country. Industrial production managers earned a median annual salary of $93,940 as of May 2015.
Production engineering programs teach students the skills needed to plan engineering projects, solve problems and develop new processes for manufacturing. Jobs in this field can include production technologists, manufacturing managers and supply chain managers.