Process engineering vs manufacturing engineering

If you wonder which is better, process engineering or manufacturing engineering, this post is for you.

In this post, we’re going to discover the major difference between process engineering and manufacturing engineering, including:

  • salary
  • education, the hardest subject students study
  • help to determine which is the best fit for you

So keep reading if you want to make the right decision and not lose the steps.

The difference between process engineering and manufacturing engineering

process and manufacturing engineering are two major that have a lot of similarities. But in general, process engineers focus more on how to design a product rather than thinking about how the product will be manufactured, which manufacturing engineers do. So process engineers design a product, and manufacturing engineers think about how to manufacture it or produce it.

Process engineers focus on manufacturing aspects like how to make things or how to build products. In other words, they design the machines that will make this product, meaning machines or processes that transform raw material into something useful to use for people.

While manufacturing engineers focus on the details of each aspect of the manufacturing operation. To clarify, they design the product and set the parameters like temperature and the pressure of material density. So their goal is to make or create the right recipe for a product, and they don’t focus on how to produce it because this is the profession of manufacturing engineers.

So the short answer that shows the difference between product engineering and manufacturing engineers is in the phrase below.

A manufacturing engineer focuses on the machines and methods that make a product, while a process engineer focuses on the material that the machine produce.

Process engineer vs manufacturing engineer real-life example

Let’s put an example to understand the core difference:

let’s say we need to produce milk, so what process and manufacturing engineers will do differently in this case? The simple answer is.

Process engineers will make chemical operations, like billing and cursing milk. In other words, they will set the parameters on which temperature and pressure the milk should build and curdled, etc.

While the manufacturing engineer will set the steps and control the machine that makes this operation, for instance, controlling how the boiling machine is working makes the manufacturing process more efficient by producing the maximum units of milk.

So, for this reason, we find process engineers not focusing so much on design as manufacturing engineers do by using CAD or CAM software. They focus so much on the chemical aspect than the mechanical one.

but in general, a process engineer can work as a manufacturing engineer if it has a bachelor’s degree in the 3 following industries:

  • chemical engineering
  • manufacturing engineering
  • industrial engineering

In the next paragraph, we’re going to list in detail the principal subjects that process and manufacturing engineers study.

What do students study in manufacturing engineering?

manufacturing engineering

We’re going to list the 3 principal subjects that manufacturing engineers focus on and you should be good at before majoring in this field.

1 – Math

Manufacturing engineers study and focus high on math. They study high-level math subjects like calculus, and linear algebra like process engineers do. In other words, as a manufacturing engineer, you will study:

  • calculus 1
  • calculus 2
  • calculus 3

Also, you will study linear algebra subjects, which means focusing a lot on matrices and their operations. You discover more about linear algebra in the article below.

Is linear algebra harder than calculus? (important keys)

2 – Design

if you love design, manufacturing engineering is for you. You will be using many software designs like CAD/CAM for Manufacturing engineering.

So you will spend a lot of time in the office designing and modeling objects, products, and parts of machines. So learning and building skills in design are very important, especially in CAD.

you can read this related article CAD has completely replaced hand sketching?(solved)

3 – Chemistry and physics

Manufacturing engineers also focus on physics and chemistry because both subjects play a big part in manufacturing. So as a manufacturing engineer, you will study a lot of physics and chemistry.

In chemistry, you will study chemistry 1 and chemistry 2 modules.

In chemistry 1, the majorities of its topics base on the high school classes. So you will study in the first year as a revision and recap to solidify all knowledge acquired in high school.

While in chemistry 2, you will discover some new and advanced chemistry subjects like:

  • stoichiometry
  • states of matter
  • and reaction kinetics.

In physics, manufacturing engineers also focus on the main topics like:

  • Thermodynamic,
  • Fundamentals Mechanics of Solids
  • dynamics
  • fluid mechanics

These subjects require a lot of math and physics basics, especially 11th and 12th math and physic subject that you studied in high school. So having a solid foundation is crucial.

What do students study in process engineering?

process engineering

In this link, you will find all the details about what are the principal subject process engineers study.

Process vs manufacturing engineering salary

Both process and manufacturing engineers have similar wages, according to payscale:

  • Process engineers make  $75,000
  • Manufacturing engineers make $72,000

So in terms of wage, there is no big difference because manufacturing engineers can become process engineers in most cases. In other words, process engineering is a specialization in manufacturing engineering.

In other words, it is like finishing a general formation in medical school and taking a specialty.

Process vs manufacturing engineering, which is better for me?

If you like to design and love automation and mechanical operations, manufacturing engineering will be better for you.

But for people who like chemical engineering, like how to make or find the right portion of building products. As a result, process engineering is better.


In general, you don’t have to be confused because these both major process and manufacturing engineers are soo close to each other. So if you decide to major in manufacturing engineering, you can still take occupation and work in process engineering.

So no matter how you choose, this will not make a big difference, so the best thing is to find where you feel more intuitive.


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.