As a petroleum engineer, you are reasonably well-positioned to apply for chemical engineering or process engineering roles within the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector. You could also look at roles with medical device manufacturing as well. Engineering consultancies could also be another option.
Your undergraduate qualifications and work experience should equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to apply for entry-level or higher-level types of roles. It is difficult to anticipate how HR or Line Managers will react to your qualification or your lack of experience working in a GMP regulated manufacturing environment. For some, this may prove a stumbling block though so you may need to take a GMP course on that.
A second option would be to retrain for validation roles as your background in engineering design and interpreting P&ID technical drawings are highly relevant to this field.
Another option would be to retrain for plant engineering or maintenance type roles.
Apart from the general “Process Engineer”, “Chemical Engineer” or “Senior Process Engineer” job titles, here are some typical sub category job titles we often see advertised.
- Process Engineer – Tech Transfer – focus is generally on managing the move of a production process from one facility to another.
- Process Engineer – Upstream – Upstream activities are stages of biopharmaceutical processing up to the cell-culture or fermentation process that is used to make the target proteins.
- Process Engineer – Downstream – Downstream activities are the stages of processing that come after cell culture or fermentation. These stages include separation and purification to achieve the required drug product.
- Process Engineer – Fill Finish – focus is on formulating the licensed product using the drug substance and other excipients, filling, lyophilization and testing, including ongoing stability testing.
Other sub categories – a lot of the job descriptions for these job titles tend to overlap with other engineering disciplines such a mechanical, plant or validation engineering.
- Process Engineer – EHS – focus on environmental, health and safety
- Process Engineer – Facilities – focus is on the design and maintenance of HVAC, air handling, water and steam systems within a plant
- Process Engineer – C&Q – focus is on commissioning and qualification of equipment and systems and populate validation protocols
- Process Engineer – Equipment – focus is on the maintenance, qualifications and documentation to keep process equipment up and running and in regulatory alignment.
So you would have roughly 3 broad options.
Apply for process or chemical engineer roles as you are with engineering consultancies or pharma companies.
Reframe and polish up your CV/Resume and apply as you are. 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. Read this article to see the Top 10 Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Industry Hubs in the USA. For other locations, do a search for engineering consultancies for the pharma of med device sector.
As mentioned, it is difficult to anticipate how HR or Line Managers will react to your qualification or your lack of experience working in a GMP regulated manufacturing environment. For that reason, you might consider bolstering your qualifications by taking a GMP course.
Retrain for validation roles in both pharmaceutical companies and engineering consultancies.
Take our 15-week online Starter Validation program and learn to populate an IQ OQ PQ Validation Protocol.
IQ OQ PQ Validation Protocols form a crucial part of pharmaceutical plant projects and having a fundamental understanding of how these protocols are put together and interpreted is a fundamental skillset of any petroleum engineer cross-training to work in this area.
Options for further study
Take our 30-week online Certificate in Validation program for Senior Validation Roles to get a level 7 university qualification from Technological University Dublin, Ireland and a more interesting job with a higher salary such as;
Some companies might call this role:
- Validation Specialist
- CQV Specialist
- C&Q Specialist
Take our Computer System Validation Course and extend your role to CSV Projects. Round out your qualifications and give yourself a competitive edge in the marketplace.
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’d need to take the following programs.
ake our 15-week online 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.
You will receive a strong grounding in the modern pharmaceutical science and engineering concepts of the environmental controls (air) and clean utility systems design that underpin an aseptic manufacturing facility and the quality systems.
Then take our 10-Week Online Starter Validation program to learn how those systems are validated.