By: Donagh Fitzgerald and Claire Wilson. Last Updated: April 2022

GET UPDATES
Process Technicians working in a pharmaceutical factory

What is a Process Technician?

Process Technicians work in a process or continuous manufacturing environment and operate equipment, monitor the machinery and document results in strict adherence to protocols. Process manufacturing uses a chemical reaction or blends ingredients continuously or in a batch into a final product which is usually a liquid, powder or gas.

Process Technicians are involved in all stages of the manufacturing process in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industries, less so in medical device manufacturing. They often work within a clean-room environment.

Some Companies Might Call This Role…

  • Chemical Process Technician
  • BioProcess Technician

We also see these job titles used to describe a more entry-level version of this role (with less pay!).

  • Process Operator
  • Cleanroom Operator
  • Chemical Plant and System Operators

In the Medical Device Manufacturing Sector where the emphasis is more on discreet manufacturing (i.e. machining, assembling, riveting and glueing things that can be counted and itemised into a distinct product often on an assembly line), they might be known as:

Process Technician Salaries & Job Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 report on chemical plant and system operators, the median average wage $33.75 per hour and a median average salary of $70,200 per year.

Check out our salary guide for Process Technician salary information for “Euro” and “Dollar” salaries local to you.

Let’s now take a closer look at the details of the role of a Process Technician.

What Does a Process Technician Do?

Process Technicians are involved at all stages of a continuous manufacturing process. The role requires individuals to follow strict internal protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). In the pharmaceutical industry, they follow 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.

They can work outside, (petrochemicals, oil refining) or within a cleanroom environment   (pharmaceutical manufacturing) (food, 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 single specific step in 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 or involve 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).

Process Manufacturing vs Discrete Manufacturing

There seems to be a shocking amount of confusion between process technicians and manufacturing technicians. In summary:

Process Technicians work in Process Manufacturing – takes a formulation or recipe of ingredients and blends them together using a chemical reaction, heat, cold, fermentation, etc continuously or in a batch into a final product which is usually a liquid, powder, gas or solid. (Think turning milk into baby formula, oil refining, gasoline, general anaesthetic, plastic, cheese, butter, paint or pharmaceutical manufacturing,)

In a process manufacturing plant, you typically find, piping, pumps, tanks, flow valves, steam valves, temperature gauges, boilers, vessels, reactor vessels, crackers, distillation columns, heat exchangers, boilers, steam pipes, autoclaves, clarifiers, decanters, fluidised dryers, Program Logic Controllers (PLCs) PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) Controllers, conveyor belts, etc,

Manufacturing Technicians work in Discrete Manufacturing  – machines and or assembles (screws, bolts, welds, glues, rivets) individual pieces into a distinct product often on an assembly line. (Think car assembly – Telsa’s production line for electric cars, shipbuilding, cellphones, computers, airplanes, syringes, medical pumps, scalpels, pacemakers, etc)

In a discrete manufacturing plant, you typically find, assembly lines, U shaped assembly areas, machine tools, CNC machine centers, robots, welders, pick and place robots, injection moulding machines, packing machines, air-powered assembly tools, painting and finishing areas, etc.

Where Does a Process Technician Work?

Process technicians spend most of their time on the factory floor at industrial plants and other large-scale manufacturing locations. They typically work in the following sectors.

  • Food and dairy
  • Beer and whiskey manufacturing
  • Chemical manufacturing
  • Petrochemical manufacturing
  • Agriculture processing
  • Mineral processing
  • Cosmetics
  • Pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical manufacturing 

What Duties Does a Process Technician Have?

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 to many Process Technician roles are:

  • Monitor and operate the equipment in accordance with operational instructions
  • Perform inspection, cleaning, and maintenance of the equipment in accordance with operational instructions
  • Maintain Equipment and Batch Logbooks
  • Regular review of the production schedule
  • Strictly follow the internal SOPs and external regulations
  • Strictly following health and safety procedures and protocols
  • Document routine manufacturing processes
  • Report data to senior colleagues
  • Quick and effective diagnosis and troubleshooting of routine or minor 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

How Do You Become a Process Technician?

Some roles require a BSc in a science-related subject. Most, however, only require an associate degree/diploma in engineering, science or related field or vocational training through an accredited institution.

For more entry-level roles in:

  • Process Operator
  • Cleanroom Operator
  • Chemical Plant and System Operators

A high-school or equivalent qualification along with the right aptitude and skills is sufficient. Employers typically provide the training needed to complete the tasks specific to each job role as necessary.

How Do You Become a Process Technician in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing?

If you’d like to retrain for a process technician role within the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, check out the following steps;

STEP 1, take this Conversion Course into Pharma to retrain for starter level roles such as:

  • Process Operator. Some companies call this role:
  • Process Technician,
  • Chemical Process Technician,
  • BioProcess Technician
  • Cleanroom Operator
  • Chemical Plant and System Operators

View Salaries

STEP 2 If you want to progress your career beyond a starter role and beyond, then take our Certificate in eBioPharmachem program to get a university qualification from the Technology University Dublin, Ireland and get better jobs with a higher salary. Typical roles;

And with some experience

What Skills Do I Need?

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

Process Technician Resume Tips

As with all resumes, it’s extremely important that you tailor your Process Technician resume to reflect the language used within the job advert. Where you have relevant experience or skills, use the words and phrases that the employer has used to describe them. Do not assume that someone will read similar wording and know what you mean.

Process Technician roles will typically be looking for the skills previously outlined:

  • Attention to detail
  • Alert
  • Calm under pressure
  • Numerical skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Good computer skills

For more help with your resume, check out these templates and this list of 30 tips to improve your resume.

Process Technician Job Vacancies

For more information on currently available Process Technician roles, head to our pharmaceutical jobs board for Ireland and our pharmaceutical jobs board for the UK and select Production/Manufacturing in the “Jobs by Category” menu.

About the Authors

Our Team

Donagh Fitzgerald

Head of Marketing & Product Development
Mechanical/Production Engineer

Donagh looks after the marketing and product development including the training and pedagogical elements of our programs and makes sure that all GetReskilled’s users can have a great online learning experience. Donagh has lived and worked in many countries including Ireland, America, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan where he managed to pick up the language. Donagh has also served as the Program Manager for the Farmleigh Fellowship based out of Singapore.

Donagh holds Degrees in Production Engineering and Mechanical Engineering from South East Technological University, Ireland.

Image with Claire Wilison from GetReskilled Team

Claire Wilson

Content Marketing and Career Coaching

Claire runs GetReskilled’s Advanced Career Coaching Programme – our specially devised job hunting course that helps our trainees take that final step into employment by leading them through the job hunting process. She is extremely enthusiastic about helping people reach their final goal of employment in their new career path.

Claire has a BSc (Hons) in Medical Biology from Edinburgh University and spent 7 years working in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.