Plastics engineers work for the manufacturers of plastic products, materials, and resins. Major plastics employers in the United States include DuPont, General Motors, and Owens Corning. Some of the top thermoforming companies are in Illinois, including Tenneco and Solo Cup Company, to name just a few of them. Michigan has some of the top injection molding companies, including Lear Corporation. Large plastics companies are located all across the country.
To get a job as a plastics engineer, you will need considerable experience in the plastics industry or a college degree. A variety of starting points exist within the industry. Experienced plastics setup and process technicians can use their skills to advance to engineering responsibilities. Many plastics engineers start out as tool and die makers or moldmakers before they move into engineering positions.
For those who receive their plastics knowledge through advanced education, jobs can be obtained through the placement programs of their universities and technical schools. Also, many major companies recruit plastics engineers on college campuses.
Another way to learn about job openings is through membership to professionals associations. For example, student chapters of the Society of Plastics Engineers maintain close ties with the parent organization. Student members receive newsletters and technical journals, and they attend professional seminars. These contacts are invaluable when seeking employment.
The advanced training, expertise, and knowledge of experienced plastics engineers allows them the luxury of advancing to almost any position within the plastics industry. Engineers may also advance to supervisory or management positions, for example, becoming director of engineering for their entire plant or division. Further advancement may come in the form of employment at larger companies. Experienced plastics engineers, as a result of their expertise in materials and matching products to applications, are good candidates for sales and marketing jobs. They may also train the engineers of tomorrow by becoming teachers at technical schools or colleges or by writing for a technical trade journal.
Tips for Entry
Join the Technology Student Association and enter a competition, for more information, visit https://tsaweb.org/competitions-programs/tsa.
While in college, complete a summer internship at a plastics engineering company where you'd like to work. Many employers hire new graduates from their former intern pool.
Take workshops and participate in events offered by professional associations such as the Society of Plastics Engineers, https://www.4spe.org/i4a/calendar.