Plant engineering

Plant engineers ensure that all site services are operational and provided at optimum levels.

Working in plant en​​​gineering

Plant engineers help ensure that pharmaceutical manufacturing plants are safe, compliant and able to run efficiently. They are essential in every manufacturing plant, at every stage of pharmaceutical production, ensuring the efficient production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), intermediates and other materials used in medicines.

Plant engineers work together, with other teams within manufacture and supply such as quality and other engineers, in order to solve any problems that may arise. They make recommendations on technically complex issues, working alongside other engineering teams, and may produce technical reports for the company.

For many processes, the environmental operating conditions of the building is the most demanding factor of the entire process. Site services encompass:

  • Steam generation
  • Chilled water
  • Electricity
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
  • Compressed air and gases
  • Speciality gases
  • Purified water

It is a highly varied role, which involves real hands-on input into pharmaceutical production, directly influencing and ensuring output. As well as being responsible for the above services, plant engineers will work with a range of different technologies, such as distillation columns, crystallizer vessels and centrifuges.

Required skills and qualifications

Some engineers will be degree qualified in a relevant engineering qualification, others will be high school leavers with relevant engineering experience and some may be taken on as apprentices. Your level of responsibility will depend on education and experience.

Other skills/experience that may be beneficial to the role include:

  • Experience in performance improvement activities including assessment techniques to develop action plans.
  • Good knowledge of the equipment used in the industry
  • Computer literacy, and you may need experience with specific computer systems
  • Good communication and team work skills

Career pr​​ospects

Plant engineering roles have great prospects for career progression. You may have the opportunity to develop as a technical specialist or move into management within your company. You will gain invaluable engineering experience that can be transferred to a range of other roles, such as production engineering. Other career routes could include working in consultancy, where you can pass on your expertise of the field to clients, and this could include opportunities for travel.


Starting salaries are in the region of £20,000 to £24,000. This increases to salaries of £27,000 to £40,000 with experience. It is possible to earn higher salaries but there is a lot of variation, and your salary will depend on various factors including the size and location of your organization, and your responsibilities.

Last modified: 02 May 2024

Last reviewed: 02 May 2024