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Process Technology

Process Technology - AAS

At Bellingham Technical College, the Process Technology Program will prepare you for a position as a process technician or operator for employers in power generation, refining, manufacturing, and many other industries. Process technicians work to ensure the safety standards of production and assembly lines, and oversee quality for an employer’s processes. Currently, our primary employers in Washington State are the four refineries in Whatcom and Skagit counties. Graduates have also gone to work in other water treatment, power generation, and manufacturing facilities in our region, across Washington State, and beyond.

Manufacturing is the most diverse sector of the U.S. economy, from the immense variety of goods produced to the technology used to create them. Turning ideas and materials into valuable products requires highly skilled employees who are trained in advanced manufacturing. BTC’s programs in advanced manufacturing are ideal for students with mechanical aptitude or a strong foundation in math, science, and technology. You’ll learn skills needed for a career in high demand, dynamic industries such as manufacturing, aerospace, biotechnology, and energy.

To learn more about Bellingham Technical College programs you’re interested in, join us for a Virtual Program Info Session. Prior sign up is required. If you do not see an Info Session for the program you’re interested in, email for more information.

Employment Information

84% BTC graduate placement rate1

$67,6002 / $84,6563 starting annual wage
$79,5602 / $96,8113 median annual wage
$99,2162 / $109,3133 potential annual wage
  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    1Employment data come from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and reflect WA/OR employment for students enrolled at BTC between 2014-15 and 2016-17. Students are included in the employment rate if they left with a credential or with 45+ credits and a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Rates are not shown for programs with fewer than 10 students meeting the above criteria.

    2Whatcom County and WA State wage data come from Washington State Employment Security Department 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates and reflect 2015-2018 employment. Wage data represent occupations that program faculty have identified as the most relevant career paths for graduates. For cases in which multiple occupations have been identified by faculty, a weighted percentile is calculated using each occupation’s percentile wage and employment size estimate. Wages are not shown for programs for which occupations do not meet the Employment Security Department’s minimum thresholds for publishing. If the program has wage data from Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (see footnote 3 below) that involves shift work, these Employment Security Department wages reflect the same number of hours used in the annual wage calculation. Starting wage = 25th percentile, median wage = 50th percentile, wage potential = 75th percentile.

    3Due to the nature of the employment data received from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, it is often difficult to collect wage data on graduates who are working in-field. However, for some programs it is reasonable to assume that a graduate is working in-field based on the industry in which they work. In these cases, program wage data are published 9 months after a student graduates, and do not represent long-term career wages (i.e., are more likely to represent starting than median/potential wages). Note that these programs often include shift work, in which graduates are working more than 40 or 50 hours a week. In these cases, wages from both the Washington State Employment Security Department and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges are multiplied by the average number of hours graduates work in a week.

Estimated Program Costs

Entry Information

When Can I Start?

This program has rolling admission.

What are the Minimum Entry Requirements?

Admissions application and assessment testing in Reading, Math and Writing is required. Your score on the test and/or your previous transcripts will determine where you begin your course sequence. Contact Admissions at 360.752.8345 or at for assistance with academic planning.

What are My Next Steps?


Total Program Credits: 99

  • Quarter 1

  • AMATH 111Applied Technical Math5 CR
  • PTEC 101Introduction to Process Technology5 CR
  • PTEC 102Process Technology I (Equipment)5 CR
  • Quarter 2

  • CMST& 210Interpersonal Communications5 CR
  • CTE 108Job Skills1 CR
  • PTEC 103Safety, Health & Environment I5 CR
  • PTEC 104Process Drawings2 CR
  • PTEC 105Process Technology II (Systems)5 CR
  • Quarter 3

  • CHEM& 110Chemical Concepts w/Lab5 CR
  • AENGL 100Applied English5 CR
  • PTEC 110Process Instrumentation I5 CR
  • Program Elective (PTEC 190 series)3 CR
  • Quarter 4

  • PHYS& 110Physics for Non-Science Majors w/Lab5 CR
  • PTEC 203Safety, Health & Environment II5 CR
  • PTEC 211Troubleshooting5 CR
  • Program Elective (PTEC 190 series)3 CR
  • Quarter 5

  • PTEC 205Dynamic Process Control (Simulators)5 CR
  • PTEC 212Industrial Processes & Equipment5 CR
  • PTEC 270Project I (or PTEC 290 Internship I in summer)5 CR
  • Quarter 6

  • PTEC 207Process Quality Control5 CR
  • PTEC 215Process Technology III (Operations)5 CR
  • PTEC 272Project II (or PTEC 291 Internship II in summer)5 CR
  • Electives

  • PTEC 190Food Processing3 CR
  • PTEC 191Non-Refining Processes3 CR
  • PTEC 192Pulp & Paper Processing3 CR
  • PTEC 193Upstream Process3 CR
  • PTEC 194Wastewater Treatment3 CR
  • PTEC 195Biodiesel Fundamentals3 CR
  • PTEC 196Green Energy3 CR
  • PTEC 197Cooperative Education3 CR
  • PTEC 198Basic Mechanical Skills3 CR
  • PTEC 199Power Generation3 CR
  • PTEC 290Process Technology Practicum/Internship I5 CR
  • PTEC 291Process Technology Practicum/Internship II5 CR

Program Outcomes

In BTC’s Process Technology Program, you will learn how to monitor and control processing equipment, troubleshoot and solve equipment problems, test product quality, and implement safety standards and procedures. Your career training in this program also prepares you to:
  • Appraise the typical hazards found in process plants, basic PPE, and know the requirements of regulating bodies regarding safety, health, and environmental issues (OSHA, DOT, EPA).
  • Combine mathematics, chemistry, and physics theory to apply to process applications such as fluid flow, the nature of heat, chemical reaction, boiling points, vapor pressure and electrical currents.
  • Recognize typical organizational structures, economics, and quality control systems of the process technology industry.
  • Appraise fundamentals of refining and power generation processes; know core functions and principles of operation of typical process equipment such as pumps, compressors, filters and dryers, lubrication systems, valves, piping systems, and draw from memory process flow diagrams.
  • Integrate the principles of process automatic control and data control systems (DSC) to manage simulated DCS scenarios.

Employment Outlook

Over the next 10 years, according to future retirement data, there will be a great need for trained process operators in the industry, both locally and nationally. Process Technology Program students can expect to earn excellent wages and continue to have job opportunities. Employers across a range of industries want to hire people with strong problem-solving and hands-on skills, who are trained and ready to go.

A total of 84% of BTC Process Technology graduates are employed within nine months of graduation. Of graduates employed in-field, their median wage nine months after graduating is $96,811. Please see “Employment Information” above for more details.

Criminal convictions may restrict or prevent student participation with internships and employment in this industry.

Our processing technology graduates are readily employable and actively recruited by local, regional, national, and international industries. BTC collaborates with local industry, employers, and our state and local governments to determine the skills our workforce requires to keep the economy strong.

Process technicians may find career opportunities in a variety of industries including: chemical, petrochemical, refining, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, power generation, utilities, food and beverage, and water treatment. In many instances, process operators will interface with other technical personnel, such as maintenance electricians, instrument technicians, chemical laboratory technicians, plant engineers, industrial trainers and managers.

Faculty & Support

Photo of Scott Cory
Scott Cory