Product development scientist: job description

Product or process development scientists are responsible for researching and developing new production processes and making modifications to existing manufacturing systems to improve overall efficiency and profitability.

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Product or process development scientists often use design models to develop manufacturing processes.

What does a product development scientist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Product or process development scientists can be responsible for product development, process development, or both. They work across the manufacturing industry on products such as medicine or food.

Responsibilities of the job include:

  • planning, organising and overseeing process or production trials
  • making improvements or modifications to current processes
  • formulating new production processes or stages within processes
  • using design models to develop manufacturing processes
  • generating ideas for new products and researching feasibility in terms of profitability, resource availability and compliance with regulations.
  • staying up-to-date with products on the market
  • recording and analysing data
  • presenting results to colleagues
  • investigating and testing new equipment
  • liaising with engineering, research, technical and/or production staff
  • supervising junior staff including technicians
  • writing and reading technical papers, reports, reviews and specifications
  • keeping up to date with relevant scientific and technical developments.

Product development scientists are often responsible for supervising a number of projects at once.

Typical employers of product development scientists

Product or process development scientists can find jobs across the manufacturing industry.

Within the food industry sector the majority of product/process development scientists are employed by food manufacturing and processing companies. They are also employed by manufacturing companies that produce bio-pharmaceuticals, fuels and cosmetics – to name just a few.

Opportunities are advertised online, by careers services and in trade or scientific publications such as Food Manufacture and New Scientist (along with their websites). Specialist recruitment agencies may also advertise vacancies. Speculative applications are advisable, particularly to larger companies – these should be made early in the autumn term of your final year of university.

  • The recruitment process is likely to involve a technical interview. Read our article on technical interviews to find out what these involve and how you can tackle them.

Qualifications and training required

You can only become a product development scientist if you have a degree in an appropriate subject, such as food science or technology, food engineering, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, electrical, chemical or mechanical engineering, production or process engineering, materials or physical sciences.

A relevant postgraduate qualification may be helpful, particularly for career progression. Read our article on scientific postgraduate study to explore your different options.

Practical research, factory or laboratory work experience is also beneficial and may be gained via final-year project work, degree sponsorship, work shadowing, vacation work or industrial placements.

Key skills for product development scientists

  • A logical and investigative mind
  • Excellent analytical skills
  • A methodical approach to work
  • Teamworking skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • The ability to communicate effectively with staff in non-scientific positions
  • Strong technical skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • IT skills.

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