When searching for a job in engineering, the term ‘shift engineer’ comes up a lot, however its meaning is not always clear. The role is critical to the functioning of many sectors; mainly industrial, manufacturing or electrical but also the hospitality sector.
As specialist recruiters in the electrical and mechanical engineering field, we have put together this job spotlight, explaining what a shift engineer does, how much they earn, and qualifications needed to become one.
Interested in becoming an engineer? Find out top tips for aspiring and ambitious engineers.
What is a Shift Engineer?
A shift engineer reports to a chief engineer or assistant manager engineer but is seen as a relatively senior and trust-filled role in itself. The main responsibility of a shift engineer is to support engineering and maintenance operations, including ongoing work as well as day to day required activities.
By handling the overseeing and actioning of maintenance work, shift engineers help to prevent downtime and keep business processes ticking over smoothly. Secondary aspects of the role include looking at areas of improvement such as machinery, hygiene and performance, further helping the efficiency of business and continuity.
Shift Engineer Responsibilities
As aforementioned, the main responsibilities of shift engineers revolve around maintenance and reactive problem resolution, however, other aspects include:
- Supervising – a shift engineer may have to delegate tasks to technicians and operators, taking charge while on shift.
- Inventory management – shift engineers monitor and track inventory such as supplies and parts.
- Work order handling – during their shift, shift engineers will be required to complete multiple work orders, possibly across various departments and machinery.
- Recordkeeping – work completed during a shift must be recorded in a logbook and all documentation must be kept up to date, usually performed by a shift engineer.
- Maintenance planning – beyond simply correcting issues, shift engineers will have to undertake planned work as well as schedule further maintenance.
An important term for shift engineers is Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM). As opposed to reactive maintenance – work undertaken when a fault is found, or an issue arises – PPM is preventative and regular maintenance which should reduce the amount of reactive maintenance required. By consistently assessing and tweaking machinery, part of PPM, shift engineers help prevent damage occurring such as breakdowns which cause downtime.
PPM is cost effective, as although regular maintenance and the associated engineer costs money, the payoff can be worth it compared to a costly maintenance project. Thus, the cost of a shift engineer who is predominantly focussed on PPM is worthwhile.
Shift Engineer Skills
As shift engineers often work in fast-paced environments, juggling multiple work orders and handling delegation, good decision making and judgement are needed. Additionally, mechanical experience is a ‘must’ considering the maintenance significance of the role.
Strong communication skills are also critical. Shift engineers must effectively keep the team running and work ongoing on top of keeping detailed records of work and managing contractors. Those who have never managed before can still be applicable for shift engineer roles but may require tips and training.
Shift engineers must have time management skills too, able to complete allotted work orders within their shift while also attending to problems requiring rapid attention. Similarly, shift engineers must be alert and reactive, able to juggle tasks and be on hand when needed.
Computer literacy and understanding of mechanical drawings/manuals is required for shift engineers. Preferably, shift engineers are multi-skilled engineers, with experience and knowledge of electrical and mechanical engineering to best attend to maintenance.
Shift Engineer Qualifications
Shift engineers are usually very valuable and somewhat senior, meaning experience and education is often required for the role.
A Bachelor’s degree in the engineering field is desirable, i.e. mechanical, or even associated sciences. Otherwise, employers may accept apprenticeships, especially if NVQ level 3 or above in electrical or mechanical field.
Apprenticeships are extremely valuable to employers hiring in the engineering field as they demonstrate experience in the industry as well as relevant working knowledge. For candidates, apprenticeships offer a good alternative to higher education which may be costly and not providing required experience.
Experience requirements are often between 2-3 years, however without a degree or related qualification, this may increase. If experience is a concern for candidates, there are engineering jobs that require little to no experience.
Shift Engineer Salary
Depending on experience and size of organisation they work for, and level of associated responsibility, shift engineers can earn very decent amounts. As with most jobs, the longer someone is in the role, the more they are likely to earn.
A shift engineer can earn anywhere from £30,000 to £50,000 over time, however the average UK salary is £35,000 to £40,000.
Shift patterns are often flexible, covering days and nights. Shift engineers receive relatively high pay as they are deemed invaluable and provide incomparable service saving companies money through preventative maintenance.
Get started with BMR Solutions
BMR Solutions are based in the South West and recruit for engineering jobs across the UK, specialising in electrical, mechanical and manufacturing. We match candidates to the ideal roles, helping people get started on their engineering career journey. Additionally, we advertise job roles and facilitate companies in finding the perfect candidates for their available roles.
Want to find out more? Get in touch with one of our friendly team!