What Does a Production Engineer Do? (With Primary Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 September 2022 | Published 1 November 2021

Updated 28 September 2022

Published 1 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Production engineers are highly skilled individuals who oversee and implement the manufacturing of products. These engineers often work with a team of product designers to ensure the manufacturing process results in optimal finished products. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of this profession can help you determine if this is the right career path for you. In this article, we answer the question, "what does a production engineer do?", discuss their skills, requirements of the job, benefits of pursuing this role, salary, work environment and provide a list of tips to help you become a production engineer.

Related: What Is Industrial Engineering? (Career Guide for Engineers)

What does a production engineer do?

To answer the question, "what does a production engineer do?", it's important to understand the industry in which these professionals work. Production engineers are an important element in the manufacturing and design fields. They devise, implement and monitor the manufacturing of products. While the daily duties and responsibilities may vary depending on location, employer and sub-industry, production engineers may be responsible for:

  • conceptualising product designs and blueprints

  • collaborating with product designers, marketing professionals and other engineers

  • strategising the development process, including raw materials and machinery

  • monitoring production and reporting progress

  • addressing any bottle necks or issues within production

  • training and providing guidance to manufacturers on the production line

  • estimating the cost of production

  • estimating cost of materials needed to complete production

  • collaborating with executive-level management to align expectations and objectives

  • completing progress reports

Related: How to Become a Sound Engineer

Production engineer skills

There are several skills, traits and competencies that can be helpful for individuals working as production engineers. These often include a combination of hard and soft skills. Hard skills, or technical skills, are skills that you can gain through training and development. Soft skills are often personality traits that contribute to your professional success. Skills that may be beneficial for production engineers include:

Communication

Communication is an important soft skill for production engineers because of the high level of collaboration required for this role. Production engineers often discuss product designs, manufacturing plans and progress with:

  • product designers

  • marketing and sales professionals

  • other engineers

  • management

  • manufacturing staff

  • investors and stakeholders

Therefore, it's important for those in this role to possess the ability to converse easily with a wide range of people. Additionally, being able to discuss complex engineering ideas in simpler, easy-to-understand language may help production engineers collaborate with individuals outside of the engineering department.

Related: What Does a Product Engineer Do? Role, Skills and Salary

Advanced mathematics

Engineering often involves advanced mathematics and calculations. To complete their roles successfully, production engineers may benefit from a high level of mathematical competency. They may use formulas and equations to ensure production results in a usable finished product, to solve issues in manufacturing lines and to determine the cost of completing a product.

Knowledge of manufacturing

Advance knowledge of manufacturing is essential to succeed as a production engineer. This can include specific knowledge about the sub-industry of manufacturing in which these individuals may work. For example, a production engineer in the automotive industry may possess a different set of manufacturing knowledge than a production engineer in the textile and fabric industry.

Knowledge of manufacturing can include types of machinery used, production line organisation, safety protocols, cost estimation and an understanding of timelines for completed products.

Related: What Does a Manufacturing Engineer Do? (Plus Skills)

Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking can help production engineers effectively plan and organise the manufacturing of products. Strategic thinking describes the process of analysing a complex situation and identifying possible solutions and improvements. It can also include observing multiple operations at once, monitoring the progress or each and attending to issues as they arise. The ability to think strategically may also be beneficial when developing manufacturing ideas that best result in a completed product.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills can help production engineers identify and solve issues as they arise within a production line. This could include issues with the machinery, the organisation of production or with the product itself. Being able to calmly approach a problematic situation, make informed decisions about how to solve the issue and communicate your solutions to other members of a team is an essential part of succeeding as a production engineer.

Related: How to Become a Network Engineer

Benefits of becoming a production engineer

Understanding the benefits of pursuing this profession can help you make informed decisions about whether to pursue this career. There are several benefits of becoming a production engineer, including:

Creativity

The job of a production engineer can be creative in nature. Often, these individuals contribute to the design and development of products in a wide range of industries. If you enjoy creative collaboration, a career as a production engineer may be for you. Creativity also proves beneficial when solving complex issues and when working with marketing and sales professionals to understand how to best produce a sellable product.

Collaboration

If you enjoy working with others, collaboration is another benefit of pursuing a career as a production engineer. On a daily basis, these individuals may work with professionals in a wide range of departments and hierarchies. You may communicate regularly with other engineers, product designers, marketing professionals, stakeholders and manufacturing staff. Those who enjoy working as part of a large team may benefit from this aspect of the position.

Job security

The job security of this position is another notable benefit of pursuing a career as a production engineer. Production engineers exist in nearly all industries that produce essential products, so they may continue to experience a demand for their skill set. In combination with the wide range of industries available to production engineers, this can produce a large amount of employment opportunities.

Production engineer requirements

It's important to understand the requirements of pursuing this profession to make informed decisions about your own career path. The requirements of becoming a production engineer may vary, but often include:

Education

The most common education requirement for this role is a bachelor's of engineering from an accredited university. While more advanced degrees aren't necessary, they may help you differentiate yourself from the competition and develop more specialised skills and knowledge bases. Consider enrolling in a university to earn an engineering degree to fulfil this requirement. Other related degrees that may be beneficial for this role include mathematics, science and manufacturing degrees.

Training

Apprenticeships are common among entry-level production engineers. Apprenticeships are similar to internships and allow you to work under the supervision of an experienced production engineer in a manufacturing setting. These opportunities can be a powerful way to develop on-the-job experience and develop professional networking relationships that could help you find employment opportunities in the future.

Practical experience

Practical experience is often a requirement for high-level or leadership roles in production engineering. The amount of practical experience may vary depending on employer and industry. It's important to complete entry-level work to build your resume and gain the experience, skills and expertise needed for a leadership role as a production engineer.

Certifications

While certifications aren't necessary to secure employment as a production engineer, they can add credibility to your qualifications and differentiate your candidacy from the competition. Additionally, certain fields and industries may require specialised knowledge provided from certifications. It's important to consider the type of production engineering you wish to pursue and the standard certification requirements. Then, consider enrolling in certification courses to ensure you meet these requirements and to develop industry-specific skill sets.

Related: What Can You Do With an Electrical Engineering Degree?

Production engineer salary

The national average salary for production engineers is $3,740 per month. This number can vary depending on employer, education level, industry and experience. Entry-level production engineers may make slightly less, while leadership and management level production engineers may make more than this figure.

Related: What Is a Design Engineer? Definition and Steps To Become One

Production engineer work environment

Production engineers often work in factory or plant settings with some office environments. They often work indoors and with a wide range of other professionals. They may alternate between monitoring activity within the production line and completing progress reports and design work in an office-type space. Production engineers usually work daytime shifts lasting around eight hours, five days per week. They may enjoy benefits such paid holidays, paid-time-off and insurance benefits from their employer. However, it's important to note that the work environment of production engineers may depend on the industry in which they work.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic

Explore more articles