Process technicians help design, control, operate and troubleshoot specialized processes central to the business activities of their employer. The duties of a process technician vary widely, but generally, the primary duty of any process technician is to optimize a specialized process and keep it on track, even if problems arise.
Process technicians work in many industries, including the mineral processing, pharmaceutical, biotechnological, chemical, petroleum, software development and computer hardware industries. Even within a single industry, processes can vary widely among various companies, meaning process technicians must learn proprietary technologies, processes and workplace policies to achieve the organization's process objectives.
No matter what employer process technicians work for, chances are they will be involved in some basic process engineering practices. General process technician methods might include being able to start up a process, shut down a process, diagnose problems, order maintenance and restore repaired equipment to working order. Optimizing a process to ensure it is efficient and effective might require basic math and science skills, depending on the type of business. Additionally, process technicians must comply with safety health and environmental rules, as dictated by the regulatory agencies that cover the industry in which they work.
Specific duties of process technicians depend on the industry. For example, a process technician in the petroleum industry might have to inspect, repair and operate complex pumping machinery, control-room equipment, drills, pipelines and any other pieces of technology or equipment crucial to the process of petroleum manufacturing. All the while, these process technicians must comply with industry best practices and government regulations.
It's not enough for a process technician to understand how equipment works in ideal circumstances. In all industries, process troubleshooting is an important part of a process technician’s job, according to the book “Introduction to Process Technology,” by Charles E. Thomas. In other words, process technicians must understand the equipment on a level that allows them to diagnose and fix problems that are unpredictable, such as a disastrous worker mistake or equipment malfunction.
Education and Training
Education and training requirements depend on the industry and company. For example, a process technician in chemical engineering might need a bachelor’s degree in the discipline to get an entry-level job, while process technicians in other industries might need a vocational certificate or perhaps just a high-school diploma and an ability to learn through on-the-job training.