How to Become a Manufacturing Engineer

How to Become a Manufacturing Engineer: Career Guide

Although there are many possible paths for becoming a manufacturing engineer, here is a basic outline for what it takes to get into this field:


1. Pursue advanced-level coursework in Math, Physics and Chemistry in High School

2. Make sure you have the right personal traits and professional interests for this work

3. Pursue an undergraduate Manufacturing or Industrial Engineering degree

4. As a student, get work experience via internships and summer employment

5. Get an ‘engineer-in-training’ job after graduation

6. Earn the Professional Engineering designation

7. Advance your career as you gain experience


Below, we’ve expanded on these points to give you an idea of what you'll need to begin a career as a manufacturing engineer in Canada or the United States. We've also included helpful information for this occupation, such as what you’ll be doing, what education you’ll need, and the ability to look through actual “Manufacturing Engineer” job postings!



What Education Will I Need?

Employers typically prefer to hire candidates for manufacturing engineering jobs that have a degree in a relevant field, such as Manufacturing, Mechanical or Industrial Engineering, or another similar field. A bachelor’s degree is often sufficient, but some employers may require a master’s degree, particularly for specialized roles, or teaching positions.




What is a Manufacturing Engineer?

In general, manufacturing engineers are responsible for using their knowledge of product design, materials and parts, fabrication processes, tooling and production equipment capabilities, assembly methods and quality control standards to develop, evaluate and improve manufacturing systems and methods. Their overall goal is to develop improvements in manufacturing systems in an effort to increase efficiency and increase their competitive advantage.



What Do Manufacturing Engineers Do?

In general, manufacturing engineers are responsible for performing the following duties:


• Developing, evaluating and improving manufacturing methods

• Analyzing and planning work force utilization, space requirements and workflow

• Designing layout of equipment and workplace for maximum efficiency

• Ensuring efficient production methods by conferring with planning and design staff

• Estimating production timelines, staffing and resource requirements

• Estimating future manufacturing requirements and potential by applying statistical methods to analysis

• Facilitating production process by conferring with managers, engineers and other personnel



Will I Need Work Experience to Become a Manufacturing Engineer?

Most engineer-in-training roles don’t require any work experience above what you gain as part of your degree-based internship or co-op work placement. Mid and senior-level roles however, typically require 3-5 years of experience working in lower level roles, with progressive amounts of responsibility in those roles. 


Success Tip: Working in manufacturing (at any capacity, even in a marketing department) during your summers is a great way to gain even more experience above an internship/co-op work opportunity. 



Do I Need to Be Licensed/Certified?

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 engineering technicians and other engineers. You will also need to have the Professional Engineer designation in order to sell your own engineering services publicly. You won’t however, need the Professional Engineer designation to be hired on as an engineer-in-training. Most employers will require that you're licensed as a Professional Engineer before they will qualify you to advance to roles of greater responsibility. 



How Do I Become Licensed?

Although licensing requirements vary by region, they typically involve completion of an accredited engineering degree, working of a set number of hours under the supervision of a licensed engineer, and passing an exam (or series of exams).



How Can I Prepare for This Career in High School?

Manufacturing engineers need a deep understanding of math and science. Excelling in these fields while you’re a high school student is a great way to build a foundation for booming a manufacturing engineer at an early age, and will help you qualify for relevant university degree programs.


Success Tip: Go out of your way to take up advanced science and math coursework in areas such as physics, chemistry, trigonometry and calculus during your high school years.



Should I Become a Manufacturing Engineer? 

Do you want to do more with this career than simply glide through and earn a pay check? Do you want to really stand out and make a name for yourself in this field? If so, having the following personal traits will go a long way:


• You have a natural aptitude in math, physics and engineering

• You’re the kind of person who studies and applies engineering principles in your spare time

• You have a keen interest in optimizing the efficiency of manufacturing equipment and processes

• You’re interested in a well-paying career with plenty of room for advancement 

• You’re willing to adhere to strict health and safety rules and environmental policies

• You’re willing to learn to live by your employers’ values and codes of conduct

• You’re interested in learning new technologies, and keeping abreast with developments in the field

• You're willing to possibly relocate for a job opportunity that makes proper use of your skills and suits your ambitions 



What is the Salary of a Manufacturing Engineer?

Salary in the United States: Manufacturing Engineers are part of the occupational group “Industrial Engineers”. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in this field earn a median salary of $83,470 per year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $53,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $126,920.


Salary in Alberta: According to the 2015 wage and salary survey (Government of Alberta), Albertans working as part of the “Industrial and Manufacturing Engineers” occupational group earn an average wage of between $37.69 to $84.23 per hour, with an overall average wage of $53.99 per hour and average salary of $111,808 per year.


Please Note: The salary level you could earn as a manufacturing engineer varies depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education, experience and certification

• The level of responsibility involved in your job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The industry in which you work

• Many other factors



Who Creates Jobs for Manufacturing Engineers?

The most common employers of manufacturing engineers include manufacturing and processing companies, and engineering/manufacturing consulting firms. Since the basic principles of manufacturing engineering apply to all industries, work can be found in virtually any sector including:


• Residential, commercial, industrial and institutional goods

• Food and drink

• Biotechnology

• Oil, gas and the energy sector

• Plastics

• Pharmaceuticals



Manufacturing Engineer Jobs

Our job board below has "Manufacturing Engineer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. 

What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

If you demonstrate a strong work ethic, dedication, competence, and an interest in continuously challenging yourself professionally, then plenty of opportunities for career advancement will present themselves to you.


For example, you could move on to more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions. With enough experience, you could move into supervisory or management roles, such as Lead Engineer, or Project Engineer.


Alternatively, you could choose to work in an outside area of operations or administration related to manufacturing, such as business development, sales, purchasing, executive management, or marketing.



What are the Working Hours of Manufacturing Engineers?

As a manufacturing engineer, you might work during regular, weekday working hours, or you might find yourself with an employer that operates a shift system, which would involve working unsocial hours, including weekend and evening work. You may be required to work extra hours, particularly at times when a new process is being installed and tested.



What are Careers Similar to “Manufacturing Engineer”?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “Manufacturing Engineer”:


• Industrial Designer 

• Industrial Engineer

• Manufacturing Executive

• Manufacturing Manager

• Mechanical Engineer

• Operations Analyst

• Operations Manager

• Process Engineer



What Scholarships Are There for Aspiring Manufacturing Engineers? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study in our system that are relevant to becoming a Manufacturing Engineer. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Any Field of Study Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: Apply for any and all 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!



Sources for This Career Guide

Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a manufacturing engineer:


• Occupational Profile: “Manufacturing Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved March 14, 2017.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Industrial Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 14, 2017.

• Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering: “What Do Manufacturing Engineers Do?” (n.d.). Oregon State University - College of Engineering. Retrieved March 14, 2017.

• Job Profile: “Manufacturing Engineer.” AGCAS editors, (April, 2015). Prospects. Retrieved March 14, 2017.



Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database; below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a manufacturing engineer. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


Popular Degree Programs in Your Area