Process Engineer Vs. Systems Engineer

As members of different disciplines, the professionals in these careers share little in regards to their daily tasks, although some comparisons can be made. Find out more about their duties, salaries and career outlook projections.

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Comparing Process Engineers to Systems Engineers

Increasing output and designing the latest consumer or industrial goods are general focuses of both process and systems engineers, but process engineers work in chemical engineering, while systems engineers are involved with computer systems. Readers will discover the salaries, outlooks, and specific responsibilities of individuals in these careers.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)**
Process Engineers Bachelor's Degree $71,459 8% (Chemical Engineers)
Systems Engineers Bachelor's Degree $75,401 9% (Computer Occupations, All Other)

Sources: *Payscale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Process Engineers vs. Systems Engineers

Process and systems engineers may both work in an office setting and travel to clients to provide routine maintenance or make suggestions on increasing productivity. Process engineers, however, also spend time in laboratories because their main goal is creating new materials and goods out of chemicals. Conversely, systems engineers work at computers to develop networks that connect an organization's employees. Professionals in both these careers should research new processes or technology to remain updated on the newest scientific trends in their respective fields.

Process Engineers

Through an understanding of chemistry and physics, these scientists can develop synthetic rubber, fuel, and even medications. In laboratories, they experiment with chemicals and analyze the reactions. They then publish their observations and interpretations of the data in academic and scientific magazines. Processes like oxidation and polymerization are the specialty of these engineers. At industrial sites, process engineers plan the layout for chemical plant equipment to increase output efficiency. They may also clarify the procedures necessary to keep those who work with chemicals safe.

Job responsibilities of a process engineer include:

  • Ensuring experiments and production processes comply with local and state environmental safety regulations
  • Planning a safe way to store raw materials and chemicals both in laboratories and plants
  • Changing the raw materials and chemicals used to produce a product to increase the quality
  • Creating guidelines and instructions for the manufacturing of materials

Systems Engineers

When a company wants to determine how to effectively reorganize its workflow, they may hire a systems engineer. These professionals meet with clients, as well as employees, to determine their company goals. This helps the engineer tailor the system to the needs of the client. They may also study the systems and workplace procedures already in place. The systems they build could include computer hardware and software, printers and copiers, and even employees. Based on the system requirements, they project costs and benefits to determine the best computer software, programs, and applications.

Job responsibilities of a systems engineer include:

  • Documenting the system specifications so it can be replicated or changed if needed
  • Developing instruction manuals and onboarding new employees
  • Maintaining the security of the information on the system
  • Testing all the components of the system before launching it

Related Careers

Because you could be interested in a career as a process engineer, you may want to also consider a position as a materials engineer, because both develop components for new consumer products. If, however, you prefer a career as a systems engineer, you could also research a position as a software engineer, as both create the technology on which businesses rely.

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