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Process Engineer vs. Industrial Engineer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Both process engineers and industrial engineers are responsible for improving efficiency and quality in manufacturing and production. If you’re interested in a career in engineering, it’s important to understand the similarities and differences between these two positions. In this article, we compare and contrast process engineering and industrial engineering, and we provide information on job outlook and salary expectations.

What is a Process Engineer?

Process Engineers are responsible for designing, developing, implementing and optimizing industrial processes. They work in a variety of industries, such as food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, oil and gas, and power generation. Process Engineers work to improve safety, quality, productivity and cost efficiency. They use a variety of tools, such as statistical analysis, process mapping and process simulations, to identify and solve problems. Process Engineers often work closely with other engineers, technicians and production staff to ensure that processes are running smoothly and efficiently.

What is an Industrial Engineer?

Industrial Engineers typically work in manufacturing or production settings to streamline processes and increase efficiency. They often work with managers and other staff to implement process improvements. They also develop methods to track production data and analyze it to identify areas that need improvement. They may also develop cost-benefit analyses to compare different improvement options. Industrial Engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering or a related field. Some Industrial Engineers also have a master’s degree or certification in a specific area, such as Six Sigma or Lean Manufacturing.

Process Engineer vs. Industrial Engineer

Here are the main differences between a process engineer and an industrial engineer.

Job Duties

Process engineers use data to determine the best ways for companies to operate efficiently. They focus on processes, such as how materials are gathered, transported and stored before they’re processed into finished products. Industrial engineers research ways to improve production and develop new systems that help companies operate more effectively. The duties of each role may differ depending on the company needs. For example, an industrial engineer might work with a team to design manufacturing lines, while a process engineer might work with other engineers to create a distribution system for raw materials.

Job Requirements

Process engineers and industrial engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering to enter the field. Some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree or higher, but it is not always required. Additionally, process engineers and industrial engineers can pursue certification through professional organizations, such as the American Society for Quality (ASQ) or the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE). These certifications can demonstrate a level of expertise and commitment to the profession that may make candidates more attractive to potential employers.

Work Environment

Process engineers and industrial engineers typically work in different environments. Industrial engineers often work in manufacturing facilities, where they can oversee the entire production process for a product. They may also travel to other locations to evaluate processes or consult with clients about improving their operations.

Process engineers usually work in laboratories, where they can perform experiments and test new products. These professionals may also work in offices, where they can collaborate with colleagues on projects.


Both industrial engineers and process engineers use technical skills to solve problems. They often work with computer-aided design (CAD) software to create models and prototypes of their solutions. They also use mathematical skills, such as statistics and calculus, to analyze data and develop models that can help them optimize processes.

Industrial engineers typically focus on improving efficiency in manufacturing or production environments. As a result, they may have specific skills related to quality control, Six Sigma or lean manufacturing. Process engineers, on the other hand, may work in a variety of industries and may not have as much experience with manufacturing processes. Instead, they may be more focused on developing new processes or optimizing existing ones. Because of this, they may have more experience with project management, process mapping and process improvement tools like root cause analysis.


The average salary for a process engineer is $85,585 per year, while the average salary for an industrial engineer is $85,856 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the industry in which you work, your level of experience and your location.


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