- What do manufacturing engineers do?
- Manufacturing engineer career path
- Manufacturing engineer salaries
- Qualifications and training
- Manufacturing engineer skills
- Pros and cons of being a manufacturing engineer
- Manufacturing engineer work life balance
- Typical employers hiring manufacturing engineers
- Related jobs
Are you intrigued by how things work? Are you excited about designing machinery to improve efficiency and help workers? If you want a job that combines your interest in engineering with your passion for production lines, a career as a manufacturing engineer could be perfect for you.
Are you interested in working as a manufacturing engineer? Explore the engineering jobs available to you right now.
What do manufacturing engineers do?
Manufacturing engineers are responsible for making designs to improve the efficiency of the manufacturing process. This mostly means designing machinery for production lines in factories or making suggestions for repairs and improvements. These production lines could be for food, drink, toys or any other type of product being mass produced. Therefore, your designs should be highly specialised for the type of product your client wants to make. Here are the tasks that you may have as a manufacturing engineer regardless of the type of work you specialise in:
- Meet with clients to discuss what they want from a project
- Research the work already conducted in the area so you know the best methods and materials to use
- Make designs using specialised software
- Edit and modify designs based on notes from the client and your colleagues
- Oversee the building of the designs
- Test the designs to make sure they work effectively for the intended purposes without any faults
Manufacturing engineer career path
Working in a manufacturing engineer role gives you the opportunity to work your way up in an engineering firm with many opportunities for side stepping into other career paths. During your career, if you decide that you enjoy engineering work but not the manufacturing side, you could switch to other forms of engineering like civil, mechanical or energy. If you like the process of the work but not the technical design side, you could move into a project management role. Here is the typical career path associated with manufacturing engineers:
You begin your career as a junior manufacturing engineer. This role is designed to train you and teach you the skills that you need in your future work. Whilst you have design projects which you work on and see through to the end product, you sign off your designs with a senior colleague to make sure they’re to a high standard and fit the brief that you’re given.
With some experience and demonstration of your skill level, you progress to a mid-level manufacturing engineer role. You’re given more freedom to complete your designs, sometimes choosing the projects which interest you. You make designs, oversee the construction and test the designs to know if they work well and if they are safe for use.
You move to a senior manufacturing engineer role when you have enough years of experience and high skill level. In this role, you have your own projects to work on. These projects are often more complex or higher profile than the projects given to junior colleagues, meaning you have a higher level of responsibility. You’re also working on bigger projects which have more impact on the organisation.
Manufacturing engineer salaries
The salary you earn in the engineering firm depends on the size and type of firm, the geographic location and the type of job you’re doing. Here are the salaries that you could earn in manufacturing engineering:
- Entry-level jobs like junior manufacturing engineer could earn you between £22,000 and £30,000 per year.
- Mid-level manufacturing engineer jobs pay between £27,000 and £40,000 per year.
- Senior manufacturing engineers earn between £40,000 and £60,000 per year.
Qualifications and training
Securing a great role in manufacturing engineering requires you to have the right qualifications and experience. Here is the education that you need to work as a manufacturing engineer:
Getting a job in manufacturing engineering, you typically need a degree in engineering. This gives you a great background of the work in the field and theoretical knowledge of how to successfully work as a manufacturing engineer. Having a master’s degree isn’t usually a requirement but it can help you have more specialised knowledge and help you stand out to a hiring manager. You could do a general undergraduate engineering degree and a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering if this option is more suitable for you. You can explore the available university courses by using the UCAS website.
An alternative to going down the traditional degree route is exploring apprenticeships. During an apprenticeship, you learn how to do the job by working on projects with colleagues currently working in the industry. This means you get on the job, practical experience for how to successfully do the role. Some apprenticeships include a more traditional education element where you do the job whilst working on a degree in the same subject. In these cases, you typically have your education paid for and a moderate salary for the work you do at the firm. You can explore the current apprenticeship opportunities with this government apprenticeship search tool.
Alongside your education, having some work experience is a great way to impress a hiring manager. This gives you relevant experience and teaches you the skills you need to do the job well, whilst educating you about the working environment of an engineering firm. Most engineering degrees offer time in industry which is when you go into a firm and help with their projects. Having time in industry alongside internship experience during the summer break or after completing your degree is another great option. You learn relevant skills and have the opportunity to make connections and maybe even secure a permanent job. To get an internship, you can explore the engineering internships available right now and complete this module on converting an interview into a permanent job. You could also look into networking where you inquire about unpublished internship opportunities. You can learn more about networking with this Bright advice for networking.
Manufacturing engineer skills
Alongside your education and experience, you need the right skills to work in a manufacturing engineering role. Here are the relevant skills that will help you succeed in the sector:
- Engineering. This is a basic requirement of the field. You need to have great engineering skills. You should know the right materials to use, the previous work in the sector, how the construction and installation process works and all other parts of being an engineer.
- Factory requirements. Knowing how a factory works, the best practices and all other facets of the production line helps you create machinery that is ideally suited to its job.
- Design. Part of this job is creatively making designs for machinery in a factory. Being able to make accurate and interesting designs helps you succeed in the role. This includes being able to use specialised software necessary for the role.
- Problem-solving. In this role, you’re given a problem and you have to come up with a solution. Your designs should fit a situation perfectly and match the requirements of the organisation, and having great problem-solving skills helps you do this.
- Teamwork. You need great teamwork skills to be a manufacturing engineer. This is so you can recognise that all elements of the production process require you to work collaboratively to produce a successful product. This could be sharing ideas for designs or working with the construction crew to make suggestions for a great build. You should be able to work together, not just as a lone unit.
Pros and cons of being a manufacturing engineer
- In more senior roles, you have the option to choose the projects which interest you
- It is a good combination of technical and creative work
- Part of your work is going to construction sites which can split up the working week
- Seeing a project from design to construction can be highly satisfying
- It is a competitive field so getting a job in manufacturing engineering can be difficult
- You need a high education and skill level to do the job well
- The job often involves long working weeks
Manufacturing engineer work-life balance
Manufacturing engineer jobs often involve typical office hours of 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday. However, you might have to work beyond these hours, particularly around big deadlines.
Your working life is split between an office where you meet with colleagues and make designs, construction and testing facilities, and factories. The construction facilities are where parts of the build are made. You might visit a construction facility if you have a particularly complex build or if you need to consult on an aspect of the work. However, since most of the construction will be outsourced to companies in other countries, you probably won’t be doing this very often. You visit testing facilities when you want to test a material or part of the design to see if it’s suitable. This could be to test its endurance, how much wear it can undergo or whether it’s safe for use with food production. You also visit the factory that the design will be in. This is to get an understanding of the site, the requirements of the build and to meet the company requiring the designs. Going to any of these sites increases your working day as you either need to commute there or stay overnight.
Typical employers hiring manufacturing engineers
By knowing the employers that hire manufacturing engineers, you can learn more about them so you know which ones you might like a job with. Here are the typical engineering employers: