Manufacturing engineers are technical professionals with a specialist focus on the manufacturing process. When it comes to manufacturing products on a 24-hour production cycle, companies need someone to oversee the manufacturing process from a technical perspective in order to make sure that everything is produced in the safest, most efficient and economical way possible.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be designing, planning and implementing manufacturing systems, equipment and processes. Other activities include managing junior personnel, quality control and overall monitoring of the production process.
In order to improve the efficiency of production, you’ll be responsible for devising automation systems and improving processes, before liaising with other engineering professionals (e.g. mechanical engineers and electrical engineers) to make sure that these solutions are implemented effectively.
Manufacturing engineers are employed by all kinds of manufacturing companies, producing goods across a range of industries – anything from pharmaceuticals and electrical devices to automobiles and fast moving consumer goods.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for manufacturing engineers in the early stages of their careers range between £22,000 and £28,000, while senior engineers with a wealth of experience can earn between £30,000 and £60,000 per annum.
Working hours are mainly shift-based, especially for junior and mid-level engineers, and you may sometimes be required to work on weekends and during national holidays in order to meet production deadlines.
A substantial portion of your work will be concentrated in a single location and opportunities for travel are limited.
An undergraduate or postgraduate degree in engineering (2:1 minimum) is the basic entry requirement for new starters. Employers also prefer candidates who’ve completed specific accredited degree programmes in subjects such as manufacturing engineering, mechanical engineering or electrical engineering. Candidates with postgraduate engineering degrees may have a slight edge over people with BEng degrees.
Training & progression
The majority of major employers in this industry now offer graduate development schemes to help develop new talent. These tend to last around one or two years. These are likely to involve formal training sessions and ‘on-the-job’ training through a series of rotational placements.
An important component of these programmes is helping entry-level employees to complete the necessary requirements for becoming a chartered engineer and obtaining membership of relevant professional organisations, such as the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) or the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
Your career progression will depend on your academic and professional background, your experience and your performance. As you progress, you could take a step back from the hands-on, technical side of manufacturing engineering and take on more managerial, strategic and business-focused responsibilities. Once you’ve gained a decent amount of experience, finding employment overseas is also a viable alternative.