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What is a process engineer and why should you become one?

Guy Weekly our consultant managing the role
Posted by Guy Weekly
Published on 16 March 2021

Process engineers are problem solvers. They use scientific methods to examine data, identify issues and propose solutions. They’re responsible for the entire lifecycle of a system - designing, deploying and improving engineering processes. Process engineers can work in many industries, including biotechnology, pharmaceutical, chemical and food. Essentially, any market where raw materials are turned into an end product.

There are countless reasons to become a process engineer, but the top of the list is the opportunity to support the development of innovative products and life-changing treatments. If you’re interested in a job that is both challenging and rewarding, then read on to hear about the duties and responsibilities of a process engineer and why you should become one.

The role of a process engineer

A process engineering job covers both existing processes and identifying new processes to support business expansion or the development of new products. Though your role will change depending on the industry, your overall goal is to improve yields, productivity and ensure that production targets are met throughout the product lifecycle. Junior process engineers are responsible for assisting in optimising the manufacturing process and ensuring technical excellence. 

If you choose to work in pharma, you'll provide technical support for the commissioning and qualification of the drug substance manufacturing process and work alongside automation engineers to troubleshoot manufacturing issues and lead investigations through scientific problem-solving approaches.

As you develop your knowledge, you’ll begin to explore ways to improve the manufacturing process. This may include research into new technologies such as robots, which can improve the conservation of energy during medication manufacturing by up to 95%. Process engineering is a stimulating job, and those who work within pharmaceutical manufacturing have the opportunity to find solutions that will cut costs and reduce carbon emissions, like the Certa Plus pump.

Duties and responsibilities

Since process engineering encompasses many stages of the manufacturing process, there is the option to specialise in many niche areas. But the typical duties include:

  • Analysing processes to identify improvements that will minimise waste and maximise production and profits
  • Supporting the process lead, assisting them with implementing the process design and developing process flow diagrams
  • Coordinating with project engineers to drive projects and deliver results
  • Monitoring the progress of the process suite team to ensure key milestones are met
  • Authoring, reviewing and approving manufacturing documentation

Why become a process engineer?

Process engineers have the opportunity to work at state-of-the-art facilities, and those working in pharmaceutical manufacturing get to support the development of life-changing medicines. Process engineers working within global pharmaceutical companies - as a part of the wider life sciences industry - will often play a vital role in large-scale biotech operations.

The European pharmaceutical market alone employs 765,000 people, and that does not account for the emerging markets in Brazil, China and India. This, coupled with the growing medicine and vaccine market, is boosting the demand for production capacity and, in turn, the need for process engineers. The industry is at an inflexion point, and the digital transformation is just one example of the top trends shaping the life sciences industry and creating exciting job opportunities.

What skills do you need?

So it’s a prime time to look for a job in the pharmaceutical market, but have you got the skills you need? Commercial understanding is one of the top life sciences skills you need in 2021 and will prove essential if you want to become a successful process engineer. You also need to be IT literate, have an eye for detail and a mind for numbers.

Find a process engineering job with Quanta

With new life sciences hubs appearing around the globe, there are many interesting locations that you can take your career. If you’re exploring process engineering jobs in the life sciences industry, you’re opening yourself up to a realm of opportunities to improve and save lives. At Quanta, it’s our vision to unite people with life changing industries.

We’re confident in our candidate care and industry knowledge. So if you’re looking to take the next step in your process engineering career, why not view our life sciences jobs or contact us to hear more about how we can help you?

View here to see the latest technical support jobs.