A production engineer's responsibility is to make manufacturing as efficient as possible. As an engineer, you'll see that products are constructed properly, produced quickly enough to meet demand and made with minimal waste. The production engineer's role isn't just about tech. The job often requires administrative and people skills as well. It's a subset of a broader field known as industrial engineering.
Where Do They Work?
Efficiency, quality and speed are important to all manufacturers. You can potentially find work in any manufacturing field: airplanes, clothing, cars, food. Part of your time will be spent in the factory, directly supervising or observing the production process. At other times, you may be in the office on the computer, reviewing data and figuring out what it means.
If the manufacturer you work for uses round-the-clock production lines, your responsibilities may include working shifts, or you could be called out at night or on weekends to handle an emergency.
Production Engineer Responsibilities
A big part of the production engineer's role is figuring out how to manufacture parts or products with maximum efficiency. That includes a number of other responsibilities:
- Handling budget and expenditures
- Ensuring project deadlines are met
- Analysis of the data found in charts, graphs and so forth
- Analysis of operational issues and installation of new equipment
- Providing your team with technical support and training
- Checking equipment and doing preventative maintenance to ensure it's in good working order
- Setting up quality-control procedures
You'll also have to meet with people to gather information and discuss the production process:
- Clients will tell you their requirements for the products.
- You'll tell vendors what supplies and equipment the company needs.
- Management will want updates on how manufacturing processes are working.
- If you have a staff, you'll be giving the assignments and receiving reports back.
Production Engineer Skills
Mathematics and engineering are vital skills for production engineers. That includes statistics, design, computer skills and knowledge of production systems. The learning doesn't stop, as you'll have to keep up with technological changes and improvements that affect your field. Because the job involves so much interaction, you'll need good people skills as well.
Becoming a Production Engineer
The minimum requirement for becoming a production engineer is a bachelor's degree. Usually, the degree is industrial engineering, but a business or management degree is an option too. A graduate degree in your field would allow you to teach at a university, as well as work in the field. There's no license required for production engineering, but some engineers apply for a professional license as their career advances.