In our most recent blog in the Get A Real Job series, we discussed how to become a mechanical engineer along with three common career opportunities available after college graduation. And while the opportunities for mechanical engineers in the pulp and paper industry are plenty, one position that’s getting a lot of attention lately is: Reliability Engineers.

These engineers are acquiring lucrative job offers all over the world and in various industrial settings. In the pulp and paper industry, Reliability Engineers are the experts and go-to people for facility safety, efficiency, and predictive maintenance.


Reliability Engineer

Required education: Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering
Previous role/experience:
Project Engineer
Average annual pay:
$75,000 to upward of $150,000+
What you’d do: A Reliability Engineer’s expertise and vast knowledge of the equipment life cycle in a manufacturing setting is an invaluable asset to the safety, quality, and success of an organization. They are the go-to person for inspection criteria, equipment health, and predictive maintenance. They’re aware of the entire production process along with its opportunities for improvement in safety, utilization and cost control.

Reliability Engineers:

  • Create, distribute, and manage asset maintenance plans based on rigorous testing
  • Identify potential hazards/machinery breakdowns based on statistical data
  • Monitor repair work in collaboration with Maintenance Engineers, other personnel
  • Perform regular machinery/component analysis reports for efficiency, safety, condition, reliability, and cost-effectiveness

You could be a Reliability Engineer if… you’re proactive and always one step ahead. Your deep knowledge of the inner workings of machinery and how they relate to the entire manufacturing process is second to none. By researching, analyzing, and interpreting data you can pinpoint where an issue may occur and create a plan to prevent it—saving the machinery and the company money while also prioritizing the safety of the workplace.

What types of skills do Reliability Engineers have?
Aside from an aptitude of statistical, mathematical, and engineering principles, Reliability Engineers are exceptional critical thinkers and problem solvers, and are as comfortable with computer software as they are mechanical components. They are always thinking ahead, are natural leaders and team players, and have excellent communication skills.

What is the difference between a Maintenance Engineer and a Reliability Engineer?
These engineers work collaboratively to ensure that all equipment in a facility runs smoothly, safely, and to make sure that any problems that come up are remedied promptly or are planned for accordingly.

Maintenance engineers focus on immediately diagnosing and repairing breakdowns in specific machinery components as they happen in real time, quickly bringing full functionality back to the manufacturing process.

Reliability engineers specialize in issue prevention of the entire production life cycle by reading, analyzing, and interpreting statistical data. This data is implemented via maintenance schedules and regular testing. Their work also helps determine key financial decisions as fully-functioning, up-to-date equipment is vital to organizational success.

What companies in the pulp and paper industry hire Reliability Engineers?
There are more opportunities out there than those listed below, but here are four companies that employ this sought-after role:

  • ND Paper in Rumford, Maine and other U.S. cities
  • Port Townsend Paper Corporation in Port Townsend, Washington
  • Graphic Packaging International in various U.S. cities
  • Packaging Corporation of America in various U.S. cities

Reliability Engineers have highly desirable skills and traits that can offer them a lucrative and successful career. They must be attentive and communicative, detail and big picture oriented, calm under pressure and open minded, but above all they maximize safety and efficiency in the workplace by relying on their research, data analysis and mechanical expertise.

Your skills and experience as a Reliability Engineer are in demand and job opportunities are expected to keep growing into the foreseeable future. This is a highly rewarding career path for a mechanical engineer!