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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.

Employment Information

Data are provided on a program (not credential) level

75%1 BTC graduate placement rate (Employment Security Department- WA and OR only)
94%3 BTC graduate placement rate (faculty-tracked, national)
91%3 BTC in-field graduate placement rate (faculty-tracked, national)

$83,9402 / $68,132starting annual wage
$100,6262 / $76,265average annual wage
$125,0602 / $111,488potential annual wage

  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    Employment data come from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and reflect WA/OR employment for students enrolled atBTC between 2017-18 and 2019-20. Students are included in the employment rate if they left with a credential. Rates are not shown for programs with fewer than 10 students meeting the above criteria.

    Whatcom County and WA State wage data come from Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) 2021 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates and reflect 2018-21 employment. Wage data represent occupations that BTC faculty have identified as the most relevant career paths for program graduates. Note that these wages reflect employees with varying educational levels/credentials. 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 ESD’s minimum thresholds for publishing. If the program has wage data from the Washington SBCTC (see footnote 4 below) that involves shift work, these ESD 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.

    3 Additional employment rates are provided for programs with faculty who maintain their own employment records of students who graduated between 2017-18 and 2019-20 and who were employed within 9 months of graduation. Both overall and in-field of study employment rates are included, respectively. For these programs, the format follows: ESD rate / faculty-tracked overall rate / faculty-tracked in-field rate. These additional, faculty-provided rates are particularly important for programs that tend to have graduates employed outside of WA and OR. Note that due to lack of available data, rates may represent fewer than 3 years of graduates.

    4 Due to the nature of the employment data received from the Washington SBCTC, it is often difficult to collect wage data about graduates who are working in-field. However, for the Process Technology program, it is reasonable to assume that a graduate is working in-field if the graduate is working within the petroleum industry. In these cases, program wage data are published 9 months after a student graduates, and do not represent long-term career wages (i.e., wages are more likely to represent starting wages than to reflect median or potential wages). These graduates left the program between 2016-17 and 2019-20. Note that these wages often reflect shift work, meaning that graduates are working more than 40 or 50 hours a week. Wages from both the Washington State ESD and the Washington SBCTC are multiplied by the average number of hours graduates work in a week.

  • Estimated Program Costs

Tuition Fees and Rates overview page

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: 101

  • Current Students: Learn how to use this page to register for classes

  • Quarter 1

  • AM 100Advanced Manufacturing Pathways3 CR
  • PTEC 101Introduction to Process Technology4 CR
  • PTEC 102Process Technology I (Equipment)5 CR
  • AMATH 111Applied Technical Math5 CR
  • Quarter 2

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

  • PTEC 110Process Instrumentation I5 CR
  • AENGL 100Applied English5 CR
  • CHEM& 110Chemical Concepts w/Lab5 CR
  • Program Elective (PTEC 190 Series, PTEC 109, or PTEC 224)3 CR
  • Quarter 4

  • PTEC 203Safety, Health & Environment II5 CR
  • PTEC 211Troubleshooting5 CR
  • PHYS& 110Physics for Non-Science Majors w/Lab5 CR
  • Program Elective (PTEC 190 Series, PTEC 109, or PTEC 224)3 CR
  • Quarter 5

  • PTEC 205Dynamic Process Control (Simulators)5 CR
  • PTEC 212Industrial Processes & Equipment5 CR
  • PTEC 270Project I5 CR
  • OR
  • PTEC 290Internship I (in summer quarter)5 CR
  • Quarter 6

  • PTEC 207Process Quality Control5 CR
  • PTEC 215Process Technology III (Operations)5 CR
  • PTEC 272Project II5 CR
  • OR
  • PTEC 291Internship II (in summer quarter)5 CR
  • Electives

  • Requires six credits of Program Electives in PTEC 109, PTEC 190-199 series, or PTEC 224
  • PTEC 109Intro to WWT5 CR
  • PTEC 190Food Processing3 CR
  • PTEC 191Non-Refining Processes3 CR
  • PTEC 192Pulp & Paper Processing3 CR
  • PTEC 193Upstream Process3 CR
  • PTEC 195Biodiesel Fundamentals3 CR
  • PTEC 196Green Energy3 CR
  • PTEC 197Cooperative Education3 CR
  • PTEC 198Basic Mechanical Skills3 CR
  • PTEC 199Power Generation3 CR
  • PTEC 224WWT Test Preparation3 CR
  • View past class requirements for this program.

Program Outcomes

After successfully completing the AAS degree, students will be able 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

  • Degrees and Credentials

    Certificate, Professional Technical Education, Washington State

    BS, Chemical Engineering, University of California, Davis

  • Degrees and Credentials

    Certificate, Professional Technical Education, Washington State

    AAS, Process Technology, Bellingham Technical College


If you have questions about this program or want help with the admissions steps to Bellingham Technical College, please email

Current students wanting academic planning and support, can connect with the program Instructor(s) or email