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Industrial Engineer Career Guide

Are you looking for a creative career that has ample job opportunities?

If the answer is yes, then look no further!

Industrial engineers are responsible for creating efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or to provide a service. The fantastic thing about a career as an industrial engineer is that there are employment opportunities available in nearly every industry!

Industrial engineers will need a bachelors degree in engineering that is accredited by the ABET. Some aspiring industrial engineers will enrol in 5-year programs, where they can obtain a bachelors degree and a master’s degree.

Here's the bottom-line about careers in industrial engineering: relatively stable employment, avenues for professional growth, plenty of opportunities to demonstrate your ability to develop innovative solutions to technical and business challenges.

Joel Don

Industrial Engineer Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Industrial Engineer Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Industrial Engineer field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33676 Manufacturing Training Program Engineer Female 24 $62,000 Norwood, NY 01/01/2010
32545 Industrial Engineer Associate Male 24 $52,000 New Orleans, LA 01/01/2010
32539 Industrial Engineer, Associate Female 24 $48,000 New Orleans, LA 01/01/2010

Overview

What an industrial engineer actually does

An industrial engineers is responsible for devising efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or to provide a service. Industrial engineers are in demand in many industries. From streamlining product distribution systems to figuring out how to better serve demand and more effectively manufacture product, industrial engineers work hard to try to make products, businesses, and systems work better.

Industrial engineers have the technical know-how to work in a manufacturing setting, but many work for the public sector or for companies in a variety of industries from social services to finance to tech to hospitality. Regardless of where they work, industrial engineers will complete tasks such as:

  • Reviewing production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand methods that are applied and activities that take place in manufacturing and services
  • Figuring out how to manufacture parts or products
  • Developing management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient
  • Creating quality control procedures to resolve production problems and minimize costs
  • Designing control systems to coordinate activities and production planning in order to ensure that products meet quality standards
  • Conferring with clients about product specifications
  • Communicating with vendors about purchases
  • Conferring with management personnel about manufacturing capabilities

Why they are needed

Industrial engineers may use knowledge of maths, physics but also social sciences to analyse, design, predict and evaluate the results and roadblocks of processes and devices. From ensuring that our mobile phone fits into our pockets to ensuring that planes won’t go up in flames as we fly, industrial engineers play an integral part in society. Industrial engineers are needed to ensure that we grow and develop as a society.

Pros and cons of a career as a industrial engineer:

Pros:

  • Industrial engineers can work in nearly every sector, meaning that there is lots of variety
  • Industrial engineers are offered competitive salaries
  • Industrial engineers have lots of opportunity for advancement and progression
  • The work as a industrial engineer is rewarding as they are helping many businesses to run effectively and cut cost

Cons:

  • It can be a competitive job market
  • There is often a lot of studying required to become an industrial engineer (e.g., a bachelors degree, a masters degree and further training)
  • Industrial engineers may often have to work long hours or an erratic schedule

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of industrial engineers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This employment growth is expected because as industrial engineers focus on reducing internal costs, it means that opportunities are available in a wide range of industries, including major manufacturing industries, consulting and engineering and research and development. In addition, growth in healthcare and changes in how healthcare is delivered will create a demand for industrial engineers in firms in professional, scientific and consulting services.

Career paths

Industrial engineers need a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. However, degrees in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, industrial engineering technology, or general engineering are also acceptable. Whilst studying, aspiring industrial engineers will learn about statistics, production systems planning, and manufacturing systems design and much more. Typically, programs include lectures in classrooms and practice in laboratories. Many colleges and universities offer cooperative education programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education – this route is incredibly attractive to potential employers. All aspiring industrial engineers should aim to complete programs that are accredited by ABET.

Alternatively, several colleges and universities offer 5-year degree programs in industrial engineering that lead to a bachelor’s and master’s degree upon completion. Although not a necessity, having a graduate degree gives industrial engineers more employment opportunities. For example, they can become college professors or engage in research and development.

When starting out in their career, industrial engineers are likely to be supervised by experienced engineers. After they gain more experience and knowledge, they will progress to have more responsibility and to perform more complexed tasks.

Industrial engineers may then advance to become technical specialists, such as quality engineers or facility planners. At this point, they are responsible for supervising other engineers and technicians. Similarly, industrial engineers may move into management positions.

Example Job Titles for Industrial Engineer

Below is a list of common job titles in the Industrial Engineer field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for industrial engineers in the United States was $88,020 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $57,290, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $134,070. The top paying industry was professional, scientific and technical services, where the median annual salary was $96,600. This is followed by computer and electronic product manufacturing ($94,140), transportation equipment manufacturing ($90,250), machinery manufacturing ($83,720) and then fabricated metal product manufacturing ($76,410).

Autonomy and Flexibility

In most circumstances, all engineers tend to be some of the most senior members on a project. Industrial engineers are no exception, and more often than not they will have high levels autonomy. As industrial engineers progress through their careers, their autonomy will increase further as they gather more experience, knowledge and responsibility.

Flexibility is likely to be lower. Often, industrial engineers will have to travel between different projects and their hours may vary out of their control.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be an industrial engineer, based on average annual salary and number of job opportunities, are:

  • Washington, where the average annual salary is $98,013
  • New Hampshire, where the average annual salary is $86,080
  • Massachusetts, where the average annual salary is $89,470
  • Texas, where the average annual salary is $57,000
  • Oregon, where the average annual salary is $88,955

The worst states, according to Zippia, are Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Kansas and Florida.

Work environment

The largest employer of industrial engineers in the United States was transportation equipment manufacturing, which hired 18% of all industrial engineers in 2019. 13% of industrial engineers were employed by the computer and electronic production manufacturing industry, 12% were employed by professional, scientific and technical services, 8% by machinery manufacturing and 6% by fabricated metal product manufacturing.

Industrial engineers may work in offices most of the time. Here, they will analyze data and make plans. However, they will also need to travel to visit the settings that they are trying to improve (e.g., factories).

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Industrial Engineer careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Industrial Engineer career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Industrial Engineer.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DISC

  • None

Enneagram

Personality types

There has been no scientific exploration into exactly what personality types will make a successful industrial engineer. However, successful engineers are likely to be the the Myers Briggs personality type of INTJ, or otherwise known as ‘the inspector’. INTJ’s are typically responsible, reserved and organized. They have a strong focus on detail and doing things correctly. These skills are key for engineers, who must notice the most minute issues and fix them correctly.

Accomplishment and mastery

Like most engineering careers, it takes a reasonably long time for industrial engineers to become fully qualified and have lots of responsibility and control. Therefore, when they do eventually qualify, they are likely to feel a huge sense of achievement.

What is more is that industrial engineers are responsible for making efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or to provide a service. Every time they succeed in doing this, industrial engineers will feel hugely accomplished and mastered.

Meaning and contribution

Industrial engineers play an integral part in society. Whether its consumer products, healthcare products or airlines, industrial engineers play a huge part in our society. Therefore, their work is highly meaningful to all of us, and makes a massive contribution to our lives.

Life fit

Most industrial engineers will work normal full time hours. However, industrial engineers may have to work overtime if they have to travel to different projects. 

Who will thrive in this career?

There are many qualities that an industrial engineer needs in order to thrive, such qualities include:

  • Being mathematically minded, as industrial engineers must be able to design efficient systems correctly
  • In order to thrive, they should have excellent IT skills and be analytical
  • They should have strong teamwork skills and enjoy working with others
  • They should be able to negotiate with others

Who will struggle in this career?

As with any type of engineer, you will struggle as an industrial engineer if you are not naturally creative. Similarly, those who are not natural born problem-solvers and don’t pay attention to detail may struggle as an engineer, who needs to be able to notice and solve even the smallest of issues.

Requirements

Skills and talents

Industrial engineers will learn many of the skills they need during their education and studying. However, they must also have skills such as:

  • Creativity, as industrial engineers will need to use creativity to design new production processes in many kinds of settings
  • Speaking skills, as industrial engineers will have to explain their instructions to production staff and technicians and must be able to explain clearly and quickly
  • Problem-solving skills, as industrial engineers must be prepared to deal with, and solve, several issues at once
  • Written communication skills, as industrial engineers must prepare documentation for other engineers and for scientists to refer too. They will also need to be able to correspond with clients
  • Interpersonal skills, as industrial engineers will need to work with and build trusting professional relationships with other professionals
  • Math skills, as industrial engineers must use the principles of calculus, trigonometry and other advanced topics for analysis, design and troubleshooting

Education

Industrial engineers need a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering that is accredited by the ABET. However, degrees in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, industrial engineering technology, or general engineering are also acceptable. Many colleges and universities offer cooperative education programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education.

Alternatively, several colleges and universities offer 5-year degree programs in industrial engineering that lead to a bachelor’s and master’s degree upon completion.

Certifications

Industrial engineers should aim to achieve a professional engineering (PE) license, this will give them more opportunities. Licensed engineers can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off projects and provide service directly to the public. To achieve a PE license, aspiring engineers will need:

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

How to Become

Summary

Industrial engineers are responsible for creating efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or to provide a service. The fantastic thing about a career as an industrial engineer is that there are employment opportunities available in nearly every industry!

Immediate action

If you’re at high school and looking to become an industrial engineer, you should consider taking courses in chemistry, biology, physics, and math (including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus). To have the best chance of getting accepted onto an engineering degree programs, we advise having lots of extra-curricular activities (e.g., sports teams, art classes).

Education and learning

Industrial engineers will need a bachelors degree in engineering that is accredited by the ABET. Some aspiring industrial engineers will enrol in 5-year programs, where they can obtain a bachelors degree and a master’s degree.

Skill development

Industrial engineers will learn many of the advanced skills and knowledge they need through their education. Once they graduate, they can take further training in order to give them more career progression opportunities, which will further advance their skills.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Industrial Engineer careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33676 Manufacturing Training Program Engineer Female 24 $62,000 Norwood, NY 01/01/2010
32545 Industrial Engineer Associate Male 24 $52,000 New Orleans, LA 01/01/2010
32539 Industrial Engineer, Associate Female 24 $48,000 New Orleans, LA 01/01/2010

Resources