Job Search

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

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

A process engineer and a production engineer are both responsible for ensuring that products are manufactured efficiently and effectively. Though there is some overlap in these roles, there are also several key differences. In this article, we compare and contrast the job duties, skills and education requirements of process engineers and production engineers. We also provide information on salary and job outlook for each profession.

What is a Process Engineer?

Process Engineers are responsible for designing, 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 develop process flow diagrams, conduct process hazard analyses, and design process control systems. They also develop and implement process improvement initiatives, such as Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing. Process Engineers often work with other engineers, technicians and scientists to troubleshoot process issues and develop new processes.

What is a Production Engineer?

Production Engineers are responsible for overseeing and coordinating the manufacturing process in an industrial setting. They work with managers, quality control personnel, and other staff to ensure that products are produced efficiently, safely, and to the highest possible quality standards. Production Engineers develop production schedules, methods, and processes, and they also troubleshoot problems that arise during production. They may also be responsible for training and supervising production workers. In some cases, Production Engineers may also be involved in product design or research and development.

Process Engineer vs. Production Engineer

Here are the main differences between a process engineer and a production engineer.

Job Duties

Production engineers primarily focus on the technical aspects of production, such as ensuring that equipment is functioning properly and designing processes to improve efficiency. Process engineers, however, apply engineering principles and techniques to ensure quality throughout the production process. They may conduct tests, monitor processes and analyze data to identify areas for improvement. Both professionals also perform design duties, although the production engineer typically focuses more on physical production while the process engineer concentrates on non-technical aspects of production.

Production engineers often work with machinery and other technical equipment, so they may spend a lot of time maintaining equipment and troubleshooting problems. Process engineers, however, tend to spend less time on technical tasks and more time analyzing data and conducting tests. While both jobs involve some managerial responsibilities, process engineers are more likely to oversee test groups or teams of analysts.

Job Requirements

Process engineers and production engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, although some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Additionally, process engineers and production engineers must be licensed by the state in which they work. To become licensed, engineers must pass two exams: the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. The first exam can be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree, while the second exam is only available to those who have at least four years of professional experience.

Work Environment

Production and process engineers both work in manufacturing facilities, but they may have different responsibilities depending on the type of company. Process engineers often work for pharmaceutical companies or other manufacturers that require strict adherence to regulations regarding food safety and quality control. They may spend most of their time in laboratories testing products before they’re released to consumers.

Production engineers typically work for automotive companies, where they oversee the assembly line and ensure that each car meets high standards for performance and efficiency. Production engineers also work with teams of mechanics and technicians who repair vehicles after they’ve been manufactured.


Both process engineers and production engineers use problem-solving skills to identify issues in manufacturing processes and develop solutions. They also both need to have technical skills to understand the complexities of the systems they are working with.

Process engineers tend to focus on improving efficiency in manufacturing processes, while production engineers focus on ensuring quality control in manufacturing processes. Because of this, process engineers often benefit from having skills like Six Sigma or Lean Manufacturing, which are methods used to streamline processes. Production engineers typically need to have knowledge of statistical analysis and quality control methods, like ISO 9000.

Both process engineers and production engineers need to be able to communicate effectively, as they often work with teams of other engineers and technicians. They also may need to present their findings to upper management. However, process engineers may need to communicate more complex information to those who are not as familiar with engineering concepts, while production engineers typically just need to relay basic information about quality control issues.


The average salary for a process engineer is $85,585 per year, while the average salary for a production engineer is $81,466 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the industry in which you work, your level of experience and your location.


Medical Officer vs. Doctor: What Are the Differences?

Back to Job Search

Lecturer vs. Assistant Professor: What Are the Differences?