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What Kind of Jobs Can Mechanical Engineers Get in Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturing?

The majority of roles for mechanical engineers in pharma and medical device manufacturing are in: 

  • project engineering with engineering consultancies and occasionally in-house with pharmaceutical companies
  • plant, maintenance or facility engineering roles both within pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing or engineering consultancies
  • mechanical design roles with sector focused engineering consultancies
  • combination product engineering or design roles within medical device manufacturing
  • validation

For project engineering roles, you could bolster your application with a relevant project management qualification.

For plant engineering or maintenance type roles, you are probably going to need some retraining but this is going to depend on your experience. 

For more mechanical design or combination product focused roles, your current qualifications may be enough although additional training especially in GMPs or combination products would definitely bolster your application. 

Another option would be to retrain for validation roles as your background in engineering design, plant engineering, fluid dynamics and even thermodynamics are all relevant to this field. 

Apart from the general “Maintenance Engineer” or “Plant Engineer” job titles, here are some typical job titles we often see advertised.

  • Maintenance Systems Lead – ownership of all preventative and corrective works on plant utilities and equipment.
  • Maintenance Planner – focus is on developing the company asset maintenance program and strategy.
  • Lead Utilities Engineer – manage capital projects from inception to delivery and ensure plant availability is maximised.
  • Clean Utilities Engineer – ownership of clean utilities systems including purified water, water for injection, clean steam, high quality compressed air, and nitrogen distribution.
  • Facilities Engineer – ensure all preventative and corrective works on plant utilities and equipment are planned and executed.

So as a mechanical engineer, you’d have roughly 5 broad options.

Option 1

Apply for project engineering roles with engineering consultancies. 

Polish up your CV/Resume and apply as you are. An appropriate project management qualification or certification will help bolster your qualification. You could apply for advertised positions or you could send out speculative job applications.

For a list of pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and engineering consultancies, click here if you are in Ireland and here if you are in the United Kingdom. For other locations, do a search for engineering consultancies for the pharma of med device sector.

Option 2

Retrain for plant engineering or facility engineer roles in pharmaceutical companies.

Pharma needs purified water and clean air systems to manufacture safe medicines which are used for injections. These aseptic processes have to be designed, validated, monitored, maintained and updated in FDA regulated manufacturing facilities. 

Here, you will take our 15-week Conversion Course into Engineering Roles in Pharma to learn GMPs and how safe medicines are made in a regulated environment. You will also learn the air, water and steam systems that underpin aseptic/sterile processing.

Then take our 10-Week Online Starter Validation program to learn how those systems are validated.

Option 3

Apply for mechanical design roles with engineering consultancies

CAD Experience including SolidWorks and AutoCAD are usual requirement. Bolstering your qualifications by taking our 5-week GMPs Training for Beginners Course to learn about the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and the risk management techniques used in the FDA regulated manufacturing environment.

Option 4

Apply for combination engineer or design engineer roles with medical device or pharmaceutical companies.

CAD Experience including SolidWorks and AutoCAD are usual requirement. Bolstering your qualifications by taking our 5-week GMPs Training for Beginners Course to learn about the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and the risk management techniques used in the FDA regulated manufacturing environment. You could also consider taking a course on combination product validation to further bolster your qualifications.

Option 5

Retrain for validation roles in both pharmaceutical companies and engineering consultancies. 

Take our 15-week Validation Training Course – For Starter Validation Roles 

This course explains the documentation used to specify and install new equipment systems in a manufacturing facility – and how to develop the test protocols, generally referred to as Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification (OQ) and  Performance Qualification (PQ).

As the final assessment, you will learn to complete an IOQ validation protocol for a clean-in-place system.

Typical roles:

(Note that actual job titles may vary – the distinction is more between who’d employ you and what type of projects you’d work on).

Two additional points

1/ Pharma and Medical Device manufacturing uses GMPs

Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing facilities are regulated according to Good Manufacturing Practice or GMPs. While it’s often compared to ISO 9001, it’s not trying to do the same thing.  GMP is a product quality standard. Its focus is on getting the right quality product to the only customer of GMPs – the patient.  ISO 9001 is more about running the whole business, a goal of which will be producing products of the right quality – but it has other aims too.  

Another key difference is that GMPs are government regulations. If you don’t follow GMPs, you’ll be facing an audit from the government regulator, a very serious fine, serious reputational damage and potentially some very sick or even dead patients. 

2/ Our number one piece of advice is to thoroughly read the job adverts

Until you really get to grips with industry opportunities, don’t discount jobs based on their title alone. Even jobs that sound kind of niche often have some flexibility around degree subject and experience level.