How to Become a Plant Engineer

How to Become a Plant Engineer: Career Path Guide

Are you interested in using your engineering, mathematical and analytical abilities to help expand a business expand, increase production, reduce bottlenecks, manufacture new products, improve efficiency and upgrade to new technologies?


If so, a career as a plant engineer is worth considering. Here are some quick highlights of working in this field:


• An excellent level of pay 

• A wide variety of work tasks to perform 

• The chance to apply engineering and project management skills

• A variety of work settings (office, board room, production floor)

• The opportunity to work with a variety of different professionals 

• A variety of different possible industries; manufacturing, packaging, utilities, wastewater treatment & many more


If you want to know more about the ins and outs of this career, then read on; we’ll fill you in on the details, including an overview of what you would do, how much you could earn, and what you’ll need to do to get into this field.



Education Needed to Become a Plant Engineer

To become a plant engineer, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in Industrial, Electrical, Mechanical or Manufacturing Engineering


Some employers will require a master’s degree, but it is a relatively uncommon requirement.





Plant Engineer Job Description

As a plant engineer, you would be responsible for planning, directing and coordinating the functions surrounding the design, construction and maintenance of industrial plant equipment and machinery. 



General Job Duties

The specific job duties you would perform can vary quite a bit from one job to the next. However, it’s likely you would be responsible for some, or all, of the following tasks:


• Establishing standards and policies for pollution control

• Establishing standards and policies for the installation, modification, quality control and testing of equipment

• Directing maintenance of plant facilities

• Coordinating the requirements for new designs, surveys and maintenance schedules

• Preparing bid sheets and contracts for construction

• Monitoring and approving purchases for the Maintenance Department

• Testing newly installed machines and equipment

• Operating engineering and maintenance software programs

• Overseeing and reviewing the preventative maintenance program

• Liaising with government and regulatory bodies 

• Keeping abreast of new technologies and methodologies relevant to the performance of the maintenance department



Certification and Licensing Needed

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. This is good news, because you will need that experience to become licensed.


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. 



How to Become Licensed as a Plant Engineer

Licensing requirements typically involve completion of an engineering degree, completion of a set number of supervised working hours, and passing an exam. 


However, these requirements can vary, so please contact your provincial/territorial/state engineering association for full details on becoming licensed. 





Salary Figures for Plant Engineers

The salary level you could earn as a plant 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

• Many other factors


Unfortunately there are no salary figures available for “Plant Engineers” from reliable sources. We can however, get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the salary of the closely related occupation, “Industrial Engineer”.


Plant Engineer Salary Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Industrial & Manufacturing Engineers occupational group earn on average from $37.69 to $84.23 an hour, with an overall average salary of $111,808 per year.


Plant Engineer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Materials Engineers occupational group is $91,310 per year (2015 figures).



Who Creates Jobs for Plant Engineers?

Organizations that employ plant engineers are typically those that are in the business of processing, refining, handling, manufacturing or treating petrochemicals, gases, water, waste, bulk materials, minerals, food products or manufactured products for use in other processes or for sale to others. 




Working Conditions for Plant Engineers

Working Hours: You would likely work normal business hours, although sometimes hours may need to be altered or extended in order to meet deadlines, or observe production. Periods of travel may also be required to observe other plants, or attend meetings and conferences.


Work Setting: Depending on your tasks, you could work both in an office and in the plant itself. For example, you might work on the factory floor when watching workers assemble parts or use machinery, or work in an office at a computer when performing technical work, such as analyzing data and preparing specifications.


Work Environment: You would often work with other professionals, including operations managers, production managers, and other stakeholders. Your work can be quite stressful, such as when dealing with resistance to your ideas/proposals, or when facing tight deadlines. 



Careers Similar to “Plant Engineer”

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Plant Engineer, as they may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities:


Business Analyst

• Cost Analyst

• Electrical Engineer

• Ergonomist

• Industrial Engineer

• Manufacturing Manager

• Mechanical Engineer

• Operations Analyst

• Operations Manager



Scholarships for Becoming a Plant Engineer

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a Plant 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 plant engineer:


• Occupational Profile: "Industrial Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 24, 2017.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: "Industrial Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved January 24, 2017.

• Articles: “What are the Duties of a Plant Engineer?”, Silas Reed (n.d.). Manufacturing Crossing. Retrieved January 24, 2017.

• Our Services: "Plant Engineering.” (n.d.). GHD. Retrieved January 24, 2017.



Becoming a Plant Engineer: Applicable Majors in Our System

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for becoming a Plant Engineer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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