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What is a Process Technician?

  • A process technician standing in front of a monitoring screen talking to his colleague.

Process Technicians operate equipment, monitor processes and document results in strict adherence to protocols. They are involved in all stages of the manufacturing process and in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, their role often occurs within a clean-room environment.

Let’s now take a closer look at the details of the role of a process technician.

What is a Process Technician?

Process Technicians are involved at all stages of the manufacturing process, ensuring efficient ongoing production. The role requires individuals to follow strict internal protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as well as following current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP).

There is a large amount of responsibility given to individuals within these roles. Any deviation from these practices or any mistake made could have serious repercussions, resulting in potentially unsafe defective products or expensive destruction of batches.

Note: Depending on the company, a Process Technician may also be referred to as Manufacturing Operators or Manufacturing Associates.

They usually work within a cleanroom environment so personal protective gear (including masks, clothing, footwear and gloves) is required. This is both for their own safety and to maintain the integrity of the product by avoiding contamination.

A process technician will typically be responsible for a step within the manufacturing process. Their job is to know this process in great detail as they will be responsible for identifying when the process is deviating from the norm and taking action to correct it.

They must have confidence in their knowledge of the process, troubleshooting at an appropriate level and involving senior members of staff if/when they are not able to correct the problem.

They are also responsible for keeping any equipment in good working order – this involves regular inspection, cleaning, servicing and maintenance.

A key feature of the role is to maintain accurate and clear documentation that proves that these processes are being carried out in accordance with both internal and external regulations.

It is important that procedures are followed, but it is also important that it can be shown and proved that procedures were followed.

A Process Technician may also be responsible for the gathering of data from their process and reporting it to senior staff members (typically a Process Engineer).

The role of a Process Technician is a constant assessment of maintaining cost effective and efficient processes that are carried out as quickly as possible while always ensuring that safety and protocol adherence is achieved. The aim is to maintain a highly optimised process.

What Does a Process Technician Do?

The specific duties of a Process Technician can change dramatically depending on which stage of the manufacturing process they are involved with.

Tasks and responsibilities that are common across many Process Technician roles are:

  • Strictly following health and safety procedures and protocols
  • Regular review of production schedule
  • Routine operation of equipment including inspection, cleaning and maintenance in accordance with operational instructions
  • Documentation of routine manufacturing processes
  • Reporting of data to senior colleagues
  • Close adherence to internal SOPs and external regulations
  • Quick and effective diagnosis of routine problems in their process
  • Confidence and abilities to troubleshoot problems
  • Awareness of when to involve senior staff in more complex problems

Other examples of duties carried out by Process Technicians at particular points in the manufacturing process include:

  • Monitoring any variables within the process and making adjustments when required
  • Cleaning spills
  • Sterilising equipment
  • Measuring and weighing materials
  • Mixing chemical reagents
  • Start up or shut down of machinery
  • Reporting when maintenance or repairs are necessary

For a look at the role of a Process Technician as described by someone actually in the job, check out this video from the About Bioscience website, produced by the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research (NCABR).

Becoming a Process Technician

Many people enter this type of role with a specialised qualification for their industry and the ability to show the relevant skills desired personality traits. Companies typically provide the training needed to complete the tasks specific to each job role as necessary.

A BSc in a science related subject can be useful but is certainly not always necessary.

The ideal skill set for someone moving into a Process Technician role includes:

  • Attention to detail – there are often many steps involved in a process, must be familiar with the details of each. Must follow SOPs closely and must observe all features of the clean room environment thoroughly
  • Alert – must be able to quickly identify when the process is deviating from the norm
  • Calm under pressure – must be able to confidently address problems if they arise, take appropriate action and involve others when needed
  • Numerical skills – there can be formulas to follow and numerical factors to consider when following protocols and procedures
  • Good communication skills – written skills are important to ensure clear documentation and verbal and listening skills are important to ensure efficient transfer of information between staff members (keeping in mind that these might be high pressure situations when troubleshooting problems)
  • Good computer skills – much of the documentation of processes is done via computer systems

Want to Know More About Process Technician Opportunities?

If you want to know more about making a mid-career change into this area, the first step is our 30 week conversion certificate course eBioPharmaChem.

For more information on currently available Process Technician roles, head to our jobs boards and select Production/Manufacturing in the “Jobs by Category” menu. We currently have jobs boards for Ireland, the UK, Philadelphia, USA and Puerto Rico.

How Much do Process Technicians Earn?

For information on typical salaries for this role, check out our Salaries Page.

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February 17th, 2017|