How to Become a Production Engineer: Step-by-Step Guide
Here are the essential steps for becoming a production engineer (these will be covered in more detail below):
1. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering
2. Get Work Experience as a student
3. Get a job in your chosen field
4. Get professional certification
5. Advance into senior-level roles, management roles, or consultancy
Below we've expanded on these points, to give you a complete idea of what you'll need to begin a career as a production engineer in the United States or Canada. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as a general job description & duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!
What Education Will You Need?
To become a production engineer, you typically need a degree in Industrial or Manufacturing engineering. Coursework in areas such as logistics and supply chain management, quality control, materials and operations management are especially helpful.
Some employers, such as those in specialized industries, may require you to have a degree in a field related to their operations. For example, if your job will involve a lot of data science, employers will see a degree (or proven abilities) in software engineering as an asset.
Success Tip: Although a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for most jobs, some employers will require you to have a master’s degree. This is especially true for research-oriented jobs.
What Experience Will You Need?
Most bachelor of engineering (B.A.I., B.E., or B.Eng.) programs offer an internship or practical work experience that provides an opportunity for you to gain experience in the field. This is typically sufficient for entry-level production engineering jobs.
What Certification Will I Need to Work as a Production Engineer?
You will need to be licensed as a Professional Engineer (“PE” - United States; “P.Eng.” - Canada) in order to exercise direct control of a public project and to supervise other engineers and engineering technicians.
You will also need to have the PE/P.Eng. designation in order to sell your own engineering services publicly.
If you are not licensed, you may still work on engineering projects under the supervision of a licensed engineer.
Success Tip: Some employers may not require you to be licensed for entry-level jobs, but eventually becoming licensed is an excellent move for career-advancement purposes.
What Does a Production Engineer Do?
Production engineers are responsible for planning and coordinating the production procedures of an industrial plant. Their main goal is to improve the efficiency of production line methods.
What Are Their Job Duties?
The specific job duties production engineers perform can vary quite a bit from one job to the next. However, they typically following tasks in any role:
• Planning, designing and implementing methods to improve the efficiency of the production process
• Reviewing existing production processes
• Developing solutions to increase productivity or reduce costs
• Ensuring production methods comply with quality standards
• Maintaining knowledge of commonly used concepts and procedures
Who Hires Production Engineers?
Production engineers are typically employed by manufacturing and processing companies, and consulting firms. This includes any industry from software development, to oil & gas refinement, to textiles production.
Production Engineer Job Opportunities
Production Engineer Jobs - Canada
Production Engineer Jobs - United States
What Salary Could I Earn as a Production Engineer?
Production engineers typically earn between $83,470 and $93,940 per year in the United States. This can vary based on factors such as their level of experience, education, region in which they work, and other factors.
More About Salary Levels
As mentioned above, the salary level you could earn as a production engineer can vary, typically depending on the following factors:
• Your level of education
• Your level of experience
• The specific responsibilities of your job
• The size and type of your employer
• The region in which you work
• The types of products you are developing
• Many other factors
Unfortunately there are no salary figures available for “Production Engineers” from reliable sources. We can however, get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the salary level of workers in closely related occupations, such as “Manufacturing Engineers” and “Industrial Engineers”.
Salary in Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Industrial & Manufacturing Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $111,808 per year. Unfortunately, no reliable salary information is available for the rest of Canada.
Salary in the United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Industrial Engineers occupational group is $83,470 per year, while that of workers in the Production Managers group is $93,940 per year.
What Career Advancement Opportunities Exist?
Displaying competence and a good work ethic can afford you plenty of career advancement options, including:
• Moving into senior-level roles
• Moving into management/administrative roles
• Moving into teaching or research roles (with a graduate degree)
• Moving into self-employment/consultancy work
• Moving abroad for similar roles
• Taking on a similar role in another company
• Moving into a different industry
• Moving to a smaller company that has better opportunities for advancement or ownership
What are Careers Similar to “Production Engineer”?
Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Production Engineer; they may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities:
Scholarships for Becoming a Production Engineer
The "Majors in Our System" section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a Production Engineer. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our Scholarships page.
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a production engineer:
• Engineering Jobs: “Qualifications to Become a Production Engineer.” Luanne Kelchner (n.d.). Houston Chronicle website. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
• Occupational Profile: “Manufacturing Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Industrial Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Industrial Production Managers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
*Some information was also obtained from actual job postings, which due to their brief online presence, are not listed here.
Majors in Our System Relevant for this Career
We have career guides for over 60 majors in our system, some of which (below) are relevant towards becoming a production engineer. Click on the majors to see what else you can do with these majors!