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Production Engineer Vs. Process Engineer

Both production engineers and process engineers work to establish new concepts and processes when it comes to making products, but their salaries, career outlooks, and main focuses tend to differ.

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Comparing Production Engineers to Process Engineers

Production engineers are a type of industrial engineer who focus on developing efficient manufacturing processes for goods, such as tools and engines. Process engineers, on the other hand, often use chemistry principles to design new processes or production methods for goods and materials.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)**
Production Engineers Bachelor's Degree $71,701 10% (for all industrial engineers)
Process Engineers Bachelor's Degree $71,479 8% (for all chemical engineers)

Sources: *PayScale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Production Engineers vs. Process Engineers

Companies that manufacture goods and materials rely on production and process engineers to create new production methods. Production engineers, however, work to improve on a company's fabrication and assembly processes. Process engineers focus more on developing new materials that can then be used to build larger goods. This means that production engineers typically spend their time in an office analyzing data, as opposed to process engineers who may begin developing their ideas in a laboratory.

Production Engineers

When taking on a project, production engineers first study a company's current production processes. After collecting and analyzing data on the workflow, they are able to find weaknesses and complete a cost analysis of any changes they suggest. These changes could include the number of staff, new or updated equipment, and even the layout of the production machines. The main goal of production engineers is to make the manufacturing and production processes as efficient as possible and eliminate waste where necessary. Creating production schedules for orders and ensuring each project stays on track is one of their major responsibilities.

Job responsibilities of a production engineer include:

  • Ensuring all engineering specifications are being met to keep the products safe for customers
  • Ordering materials and parts from vendors
  • Guaranteeing the uniformity of products by undergoing quality control
  • Streamlining the production process by creating new tooling and jigs

Process Engineers

Process engineers use chemistry and physics to develop and produce the industrial processes for making fuel, medicine, and other consumer goods. They work on a team comprised of technicians, and process engineers are responsible for organizing the flow of work through the manufacturing process. Producing documents that outline clear instructions on how to replicate the production of these materials is a key responsibility for those in this career.

Job responsibilities of a process engineer include:

  • Becoming aware of the latest manufacturing processes
  • Identifying materials and processes to optimize manufacturing methods
  • Ensuring the impact the company has on the environment is low, especially in regards to properly disposing of waste
  • Performing simulations and checking production equipment

Related Careers

Those looking into a career as a production engineer could also seek information on a job as an engineering manager, since both work to meet production deadlines. Those curious about a position as a process engineer could find a career as a nuclear engineer fulfilling, as both look to chemistry and mathematics to create new products.

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