Plant Engineer Job Description

Plant engineers’ roles can vary depending on the seniority of the position – entry-level plant engineers repair and maintain equipment at the plant, while senior plant engineers deal with managerial and operational tasks. This job involves reviewing operational plans, ensuring machinery and processes meet compliant regulations, and fixing any mechanical issues that arise with the equipment. This can be quite a physically demanding role, with long hours spent standing or crawling inside boilers or crouching to fix equipment. Plant engineers typically work full time during regular business hours. This job is well suited to great problem-solvers who have mechanical skills and enjoy working as part of a team.


Plant Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

Plant engineers work for a variety of organizations, meaning the exact duties they carry out can change. Based on job listings we analyzed, a plant engineer’s duties typically involve:

Maintain Equipment

Depending on the seniority of the role, plant engineers may be involved in monitoring and maintaining plant equipment and machinery to ensure that it’s running as it should be. Entry-level plant engineers are typically responsible for fixing any mechanical issues with the equipment.

Train Plant Personnel

Senior plant engineers train and assist plant personnel in carrying out safety and quality control procedures so that everyone on the team is compliant with the appropriate regulations. They also deal with any administrative tasks that coincide with this training, such as completing reports or updating records.

Review Project Plans

Plant engineers review project plans to ensure that timelines and blueprints are accurate and that cost estimates tie in with the budget. They also interpret developments along the way and provide advice and guidance for any necessary changes.

Ensure the Facility Complies with Regulations

Plant engineers are responsible for ensuring the facility is compliant with the relevant regulations and that regular check-ups are carried out to verify that machinery and processes are safe.

Develop Operational Plans

Plant engineers develop operational plans for projects at different facilities, such as renovation or construction, maintenance, and machine installation.


Plant Engineer Skills and Qualifications

Plant engineers should be team players with strong mechanical abilities and excellent diagnostic skills. Typically, employers require a bachelor’s degree in an engineering-related subject, as well as the following abilities:

  • Mechanical skills – plant engineers work with all machinery and any robotics used in the manufacturing process to check that they’re working to peak efficiency and maximum safety, so mechanical skills are a must
  • Dexterity – plant engineers work with tools and machinery on a daily basis, so dexterity is vital to ensuring tasks are carried out safely and efficiently
  • Problem-solving skills – as mechanical issues arise, plant engineers need to identify ways to resolve them as quickly as possible, so problem-solving and troubleshooting skills are advantageous
  • Attention to detail – a key part of this job is to spot any problems with machinery and to identify processes that can be improved to benefit the organization and the safety of the team, so applicants for this job should be detail-oriented
  • Teamwork – plant engineers work closely with other members of the team, so it’s important that they have interpersonal skills and the ability to remain professional at all times


Plant Engineer Education and Training

The minimum requirement to become a plant engineer is a bachelor’s degree in mechanical, electrical, or industrial engineering. Larger organizations may also require a post-baccalaureate education as well. Most employers prefer candidates to have on-the-job experience in middle management in a manufacturing environment. Depending on the duties involved with the role, there may be a necessity for specific licenses and certifications, although these vary by state.


Plant Engineer Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for plant engineers is nearly $79,000, according to PayScale. Plant engineers in the bottom 10th percentile earn around $55,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $109,000 a year. Some companies offer packages that can reach up to $14,000 from bonus structures based on individual or group performances, and around $11,000 in profit-sharing opportunities.

The majority of employers offer dental plans and medical insurance as part of their benefit packages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment in this sector will grow five percent through 2026.


Helpful Resources

We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you learn how to become a plant engineer:

Mechanical Engineering Jobs – this LinkedIn group is a great way to network to with others in the industry, share knowledge, and learn about new opportunities opening up in the engineering sector

Industrial Machinery Repair: Best Maintenance Practices Pocket Guide – a practical reference for plant engineers, this book is great for helping those in this role perform their day-to-day duties. Written in an easy-to-follow format, it includes a range of topics reduced to the most basic terms, making it accessible to all readers

Plant Equipment and Maintenance Engineering Handbook – this manual explains how industrial equipment operates and the aspects that are most relevant to plant engineers. With sections covering everything from basic functions to electrical parts and water treatment, it’s a useful resource to have around

Standard Handbook of Plant Engineering – from energy conservation to mechanical power transmission and automatic control, this handbook covers a comprehensive list of topics to ensure that plant engineers have the skills they need to keep the plant running smoothly


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