Manufacturing Systems Engineer

The Job and What's Involved

As a manufacturing systems engineer you would work with production managers in factories to design and install new manufacturing equipment and assembly lines. You might also be involved in the building of new manufacturing plants.

You would manage each phase of a project, overseeing the work of technicians and other professionals. Your duties could include:

  • Estimating costs for bids and tenders, covering equipment, time and labour.
  • Building 3-D models with computer-aided design/manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software.
  • Testing systems and analysing data to work out the most cost-effective production methods.
  • Presenting plans to managers and clients for their approval.
  • Installing new equipment and machinery.
  • Investigating and fixing production problems.
  • Drawing up operation and training guidelines.

Your overall aim would be to help the factory produce goods on time, on budget and to strict quality standards.

You might work standard office hours Monday to Friday, or you could work shifts and or be involved in an on-call rota, depending on the project.

Your working environment would depend upon your industry. You could be working on the factory floor one day and working in an office or laboratory the next.

Starting salaries can be between £22,500 and £25,000 a year. Experienced engineers can earn between £26,000 and £35,000.

Chartered engineers can earn over £40,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

You could find work in any branch of manufacturing, such as the automotive, food and drink, aerospace, pharmaceutical and electronics industries.

Education and Training

You could start work as a trainee engineer if you have foundation degree, BTEC HNC/HND or degree in a subject like:

- manufacturing systems engineering
- electrical or electronic engineering
- mechanical engineering
- production or manufacturing engineering

To search for colleges and universities offering foundation degrees, HND's and degrees, visit the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) website also has details of accredited engineering courses.

If you have qualifications in another branch of engineering, you may find it useful to take a postgraduate course like an MSc in manufacturing systems engineering to gain the required skills and knowledge.

See SEMTA's website for general information about engineering careers. The Engineering Training Council (Northern Ireland) has careers information and a course database for local colleges in Northern Ireland.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

You would be expected to update your skills and knowledge throughout your career through a process of continuing professional development (CPD).

You could improve your career prospects by working towards incorporated or chartered engineer status. To do this, you would have to register with your relevant professional body and apply to the Engineering Council UK.

As an incorporated engineer, you would specialise in the day-to-day management of engineering operations. At chartered level, you would have a more strategic role, planning, researching and developing new ideas, and streamlining management methods. You can visit the Engineering Council UK website for full details about registration.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A manufacturing systems engineer needs:

  • Strong maths, science and IT skills.
  • Excellent problem-solving skills.
  • An understanding of the manufacturing process.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills.
  • The ability to organise and plan effectively.
  • The ability to make quick decisions while under pressure.
  • The ability to work to project deadlines.
  • An awareness of health and safety.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, you may be able to move into senior management, a partnership in an engineering firm or self-employment as a consultant.

If you work for a larger multinational company, you may have the chance to work on overseas contracts.

Get Further Information

Engineering Council UK (ECUK),
246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500

Institution of Engineering and Technology,
Michael Faraday House, Stevenage,
Hertfordshire SG1 2AY
Tel: 01438 313 311

SEMTA (Science, Engineering and Manufacturing,
Technologies Alliance), 14 Upton Road, Watford,
Hertfordshire WD18 0JT
Tel: 0800 282167

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