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What is a Project Engineer?

  • project engineer in a meeting with other project engineers standing around reading a piping and instrument diagram.

A Project Engineer manages technical or engineering projects. They work with stakeholders at all levels, with direct responsibility for budgeting, personnel and project planning.

Let’s take a closer look at the details of the role of a project engineer.

What is a Project Engineer?

Project engineering is typically the management of engineering and technical projects – this includes management of personnel, budget and scheduling to deliver a successful project outcome that is fit for purpose.

In addition to these factors, a significant consideration of the work of project engineers is the safety of the project. They will work to minimise the risks associated with engineering projects.

The project engineer will act a coordinating figure, dealing with stakeholders across all areas of the project. They will interpret the needs, expectations and limitations of each, and bring them together with the aim of successful project delivery.

What does a Project Engineer do?

The role of a project engineer can vary from project to project. Project engineers can be the individual in charge of a project or they can be a co-lead or an assistant alongside a project manager, giving advice and supervision to the engineering aspects of the project.

Whatever the specific set up, the project engineer will likely be the one in charge of the technical considerations and team within a project.

As well as office based time, a project engineer will likely spend a significant amount on time “on site” at the project.

Although specifics can vary, general tasks often include:

  • Interpretation of a desired outcome into a detailed plan that can be implemented by a project team
  • Planning and forecasting of the project
  • Acquisition of appropriate staff, materials and equipment
  • Liaising with contractors, suppliers and internal company stakeholders
  • Keeping the project to schedule
  • Keeping the project on budget
  • Man management of the project team
  • Ongoing reporting of the project progress
  • Ensuring that all aspects of the project proceed while adhering to internal company SOPs as well as external regulations and laws – this includes maintenance of project documentation
  • Troubleshooting problems as they arise on a project – finding efficient and effective solutions
  • Commissioning and qualification responsibilities

Watch this Video on a Project Engineer’s Role

To hear more about the work of a Project Engineer role in the pharmaceutical sector, check out this video from Life Science Consultants.

Becoming a Project Engineer

Entrance into project engineering is generally through a Bachelors level qualification in an engineering discipline. Management or business experience with relevant industry experience may be an alternative option.

The ideal skill set for someone moving into project engineering includes:

  • Organisational Skills – this is a key requirement for a project engineering role. They must be able to prioritise workloads, problems and the needs of all members of their multidisciplinary team
  • Problem Solving Abilities – they are ultimately responsible for the engineering aspects of a project (or potentially the whole project), they must be able to find appropriate solutions for problems as they arise
  • Keen Attention to Detail – in management of a multidisciplinary team, they must be able to focus on many tasks at once while still maintaining a close attention to the details of each
  • Commercial Awareness – more than many other engineering roles, a project engineer must possess the commercial awareness to deliver project outcomes on schedule and on budget, while still maintaining its safety
  • Communication Skills – is in regular communication and direct management of a multidisciplinary team. They have to be able to outline project deliverables, understand problems and convey effective workarounds to members of the team to ensure the project continues as intended. Also likely to have direct communication with stakeholders at all levels (including suppliers, management and project staff), have to be able to understand and adjust to the priorities of each
  • Decisiveness – will be required to make significant decisions on a routine basis. Must be able to assess and understand the facts involved before reaching an objective decision that they will be fully accountable for

Switch to Project Engineering in the Pharmaceutical Industry

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 Project Engineering roles, head to our jobs boards and select Engineering or Engineering Projects in the “Jobs by Category” menu. We currently have jobs boards for Ireland, the UK, Philadelphia, USA and Puerto Rico.

How Much do Project Engineers Earn in the Pharmaceutical Industry?

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

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