Learn About Being a Manufacturing Engineer
What does a manufacturing engineer do?
Manufacturing engineers evaluate the process of manufacturing in a company, identify potential improvements, and create and implement solutions. They can work in many different types of facilities in any industry that manufactures products. Manufacturing engineer duties include:
- Studying existing manufacturing processes and identifying strengths and weaknesses
- Identifying potential improvements in product design and assembly line processes
- Designing new systems for a product, including the design of entire factories
- Creating protocols to improve optimization of the product line, in technical and budgetary aspects
- Designing new products
- Working with design teams to create prototypes
- Working with financial and marketing teams to provide them with information that will affect pricing and advertising decisions
- Assisting with inventory control
- Managing the procurement process for raw materials
Manufacturing engineers are usually full-time employees. Their salaries depend on their education level, experience and the size of the company for which they work. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.
- Common salary in the U.S.: $82,491 per year
- Some salaries range from $32,000 to $142,000 per year.
Manufacturing engineer requirements
Becoming a manufacturing engineer has several requirements, including:
A bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering is usually a minimum requirement for those seeking to enter this field. Undergraduate degrees in mechanical engineering, industrial engineering and process engineering are other acceptable fields of study.
To be a more competitive candidate — especially for teaching, research or leadership positions — a master’s or doctoral degree can be helpful. Obtaining a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in addition to an undergraduate engineering degree is a typical career path if an engineer is interested in corporate leadership. A doctoral degree is useful for those who are interested in research jobs.
Much of a manufacturing engineer’s training takes place while obtaining their education, whether by completing hands-on projects or internships. Many master’s programs require students to undergo an internship to graduate, during which a student gains practical knowledge of the manufacturing environment. They may also make connections with professionals who could help them find a job after graduation.
Once hired, a manufacturing engineer receives training from their employer in the specific systems and requirements of the company. They may learn more about the products they need to produce and different safety guidelines.
Engineers who plan to work on public projects need to earn their Professional Engineer license. Each state has different requirements for the PE license. However, most states require at least three years of experience working under the supervision of a licensed engineer and a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Candidates also need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. Engineers need to renew their PE based on their state’s guidelines.
Manufacturing engineers can earn several certifications to demonstrate their expertise, including:
Certified Manufacturing Technologist
Offered by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, this entry-level certification is ideal for recent graduates and engineers who have no other credentials.
Certified Manufacturing Engineer
This certification, also offered by SME, is for engineers who have accumulated eight years of manufacturing-related education and experience. It requires passing an examination and recertifying the credential every three years.
Certified Additive Manufacturing-Fundamentals
This certificate is for engineers working in additive manufacturing roles in a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace and medical. For those who are in the process of obtaining a degree or have some work experience, the Technician level is an appropriate choice of certification.
Offered by many different bodies, Six Sigma is a lean management program offered in three versions. Six Sigma Black Belt is for those who are in leadership positions. The Green Belt is for those who have at least three years of work experience and the Yellow Belt is the entry-level version.
Cisco Certified Network Associate Industrial
Offered by Cisco, the CCNA is for those who work with both information technology and industrial networks in manufacturing, process control, and oil and gas industries.
Manufacturing engineers need several skills and abilities to help them do their job well, including:
Manufacturing engineers need a variety of technical skills, both general and industry-specific. Expertise with computer-simulated modeling programs, such as AutoCAD and SolidWorks — and with mathematical design programs, such as MATLAB — are helpful. They also need to operate and understand the mechanics of the equipment in the factories and plants they work for.
Lean manufacturing skills
Lean is a type of project management style that many manufacturers use. It involves the ability to reduce waste and increase efficiency and is the foundation of a manufacturing engineer’s job.
Quality assurance skills
Manufacturing engineers should be able to establish procedures that result in the highest quality products.
Manufacturing engineers should employ a detail-oriented approach in identifying problems and implementing solutions.
Manufacturing engineers simultaneously oversee multiple aspects of a product or facility. They prioritize tasks, make and adhere to deadlines and create timelines for work completion.
Manufacturing engineers work with designers, accountants, vendors and plant operators in the process of creating a product. They employ clear and open communication to ensure that all parties involved understand the parameters of time, materials and existing technology.
Manufacturing engineers collaborate on teams with designers, testers, systems experts, security experts, researchers, salespeople and marketing employees to launch a product. They should be able to delegate, accept responsibilities and share ideas with ease.
As manufacturing engineers focus on efficiency and optimization, they need to understand the financial markets for their product and how to adjust numbers and flow for optimal pricing.
A manufacturing engineer visualizes new products and uses creative methods to design manufacturing systems for the best possible result while maintaining all regulations and safety standards.
Manufacturing engineer work environment
Manufacturing engineers can work in a variety of environments. Some aspects of a manufacturing engineer’s work environment are consistent regardless of industry:
Manufacturing engineers work with technology constantly. They use computers for running design software and need to be familiar with the tools of the industry in which they work.
Some level of constant continuing education is necessary as different fields constantly evolve. Manufacturing engineers stay current in the field by updating their technical skills and renewing certifications as necessary.
Manufacturing engineers may work in a factory or plant, or they may work at least partly in an office. While working in a plant or factory, they usually wear safety gear, such as gloves, goggles or hardhats.
Here are some examples of places where manufacturing engineers can find work:
- Hardware companies
- Aeronautical firms
- Defense contractors
- Tool and instrument companies
- Furniture and home goods manufacturers
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Research institutions
- Chemical companies
- Automotive parts or automotive companies
How to become a manufacturing engineer
Here are some steps that you can follow to become a mechanical engineer:
1. Pursue an education.
A Bachelor of Science in manufacturing engineering, industrial engineering, systems engineering or mechanical engineering is a basic entry-level requirement for a manufacturing engineering job. If you want to pursue a career as a manufacturing engineer in research or teaching, consider earning a master’s or doctoral degree.
2. Accumulate work experience.
For many certifications and licensure, you need at least some experience. Begin gaining experience in school by completing internships in a field of your choice. Many entry-level manufacturing engineer jobs accept recent graduates with a degree from an accredited school.
3. Earn certifications.
Manufacturing engineers can choose to earn an array of hardware, software and security certifications from corporations and third-party organizations. These will demonstrate expertise in different programming languages, operating systems and software test procedures.
4. Apply for a PE.
If you plan to be a manufacturing engineer who works on public projects, you’ll need to earn a PE. Review your state’s requirements to ensure you meet the minimum qualifications before applying.
Manufacturing engineer job description example
Our pharmaceutical company seeks an experienced manufacturing engineer to supervise the establishment of a new factory line for a vitamin product we are developing. The qualified candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field (manufacturing preferred), CMfGe certification and at least 10 years of experience. The job entails:
- Designing the new factory line
- Pricing all required equipment and tools
- Determining manufacturing methods
- Outlining required workflow
- Supporting Lean and Six Sigma
- Ensuring safety and compliance
- Procuring and costing raw materials
- Setting standards and goals