Even in a digital world, the paper industry is thriving because paper products continue to be an essential part of our daily lives. As a result, career options are booming for paper science engineers.
With Domtar’s paper mills achieving record performance and an industry-wide trend of baby boomers retiring over the next several years, paper science engineers are in high demand. If you’re a college student or know someone who is, there’s never been a better time to pursue a career in the pulp and paper industry.
“We always have high demand for paper science engineers,” says Melanie Jenkins, Domtar talent acquisition specialist. “It’s one of our most highly recruited positions and one of the best for offering early-career professionals an incredible opportunity to build a long and successful career.”
To meet demand, Domtar maintains active recruiting relationships with five universities in the United States that offer paper science programs, along with numerous smaller schools located near our pulp and paper mills. Our university partners include:
So what makes a paper science engineer so desirable to employers?
“The conversion of biomass into paper and board is a unique, specialized and complicated process that’s not taught in chemical or mechanical engineering programs,” says Dr. Med Byrd, director of undergraduate programs for North Carolina State University’s paper science and engineering program.
He says paper science program graduates have the fundamental and applied experience needed to contribute immediately at a paper mill, while others would face a much steeper learning curve. Pulp and paper employers find that ability extremely desirable, and the competition for top talent is fierce.
Because of the number of baby boomers soon to retire, Byrd says, “most people don’t understand the extent of talent needed in the next five years. It’s fueling a frenzied demand for students.”
Byrd estimates that, in total, the paper science and engineering programs in the United States produce about 150 graduates each year. They’re recruited immediately after graduation. Most receive multiple job offers, and nearly all are hired within six months, with a starting annual salary in the low-to-mid $US70,000 range — more than most entry-level engineers receive in different disciplines. What’s more, Byrd says the starting salary grows each year due to low supply and high demand across the pulp and paper industry.
Paper Science Engineers Turn Internships Into Jobs
In 2018, Domtar hired 29 paper science engineer interns and 22 co-op students. In addition, Domtar hired seven former interns and co-op students as full-time entry-level paper science engineers at our Nekoosa, Plymouth, Port Huron and Kingsport mills.
Dylan Tripp is one such engineer. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in paper science and engineering at North Carolina State University in December 2018. After interning at our Plymouth Mill for two summers, he joined the staff as an entry-level engineer in January 2019.