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How do I Become a Process Engineer?

Process engineers typically research different methods of making products and improve the systems and equipment used in production. They often have expert knowledge of chemical, mechanical, and electrical engineering, as well as strong math and computer skills. A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum requirement to become a process engineer, though most hopeful workers pursue master's degrees to improve their credentials, knowledge, and chances of finding employment after college. In addition, a person who wants to become a process engineer usually should research different industries do find one that best suits his or her interests.

An individual can begin preparing to become a process engineer in high school. Courses in physics, chemistry, and math usually provide a student with a basic understanding of the scientific method and critical thinking, essential elements of a process engineer's skill set. A student can also take writing and public speaking courses to improve communication skills. Near the end of high school, an individual can begin conducting Internet research and speaking with high school guidance counselors to identify accredited post-secondary schools. It typically is important to choose a college with a strong reputation in the fields of science and engineering.

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Most hopeful process engineers choose to major in chemical engineering or physics. During a four-year bachelor's degree program, a student has the opportunity to attend classroom lectures and participate in laboratory research projects. A person who wants to become a process engineer can gain practical experience while going to school by applying for internships and research assistant positions. Work experience as an assistant at a university laboratory or local manufacturing plant can be a helpful addition to graduate-school applications and professional resumes.

A person may decide to look for entry-level work after receiving a bachelor's degree. College graduates are eligible for many entry-level junior engineer jobs. Pursuing a master's degree in chemical engineering, however, can greatly improve an individual's chances of landing a steady, higher-paying process engineer job. A master's degree program typically lasts about two years, and includes detailed classroom and laboratory studies regarding chemical processes. In addition, many colleges provide job placement services for their graduating students to help them find work.

College graduates who want to become process engineers can explore job openings at pharmaceutical companies, food and drink manufacturers, and chemical plants, among many other settings. A hopeful engineer should carefully consider his or her interests and abilities when applying for jobs. A person interested in environmental protection and sustainability, for example, is probably best suited for a job in alternative energy production. Pharmaceutical companies generally prefer workers who genuinely care about the health of people who will ultimately use the products. By choosing the right process engineer job, a professional usually can enjoy a rewarding career with ample room for advancement.

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