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Industrial Engineering Career

Career Description

Industrial Engineers design, develop, test, and evaluate integrated systems for managing industrial production processes including human work factors, quality control, inventory control, logistics and material flow, cost analysis, and production coordination.

Common Work Tasks

  • Determine the most effective ways to use the basic factors of production—people, machines, materials, information, and energy—to make a product or provide a service
  • Increase productivity through the management of people, methods of business organization, and technology
  • Study the product requirements and design manufacturing and information systems to meet those requirements with the help of mathematical methods and models
  • Develop management control systems to aid in financial planning and cost analysis, and design production planning and control systems to coordinate activities and ensure product quality
  • Design or improve systems for the physical distribution of goods and services and determine the most efficient plant locations
  • Develop wage and salary administration systems and job evaluation programs
  • Analyze statistical data and product specifications to determine standards and establish quality and reliability objectives of finished product
  • Develop manufacturing methods, labor utilization standards, and cost analysis systems to promote efficient staff and facility utilization
  • Recommend methods for improving utilization of personnel, material, and utilities

Other Job Titles

Industrial Engineers are also known by other titles, including:

  • Mechanical Engineers
  • Chemical Engineers
  • Health and Safety Engineers
  • Electrical Engineers

Education, Training, and Experience

Education and Training
A bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for almost all entry-level engineering jobs. College graduates with a degree in a natural science or mathematics occasionally may qualify for some engineering jobs, especially in specialties in high demand.

Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in both mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Many programs also include courses in general engineering. A design course, sometimes accompanied by a computer or laboratory class or both, is part of the curriculum of most programs. General courses not directly related to engineering, such as those in the social sciences or humanities, are also often required.

Graduate training is essential for engineering faculty positions and many research and development programs, but is not required for the majority of entry-level engineering jobs. Many experienced engineers obtain graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology and broaden their education. Many high-level executives in government and industry began their careers as engineers.

Certification and Licensure
All 50 States and the District of Columbia require licensure for engineers who offer their services directly to the public. Engineers who are licensed are called professional engineers (PE). This licensure generally requires a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, 4 years of relevant work experience, and successful completion of a State examination. Recent graduates can start the licensing process by taking the examination in two stages. The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination can be taken upon graduation. Engineers who pass this examination commonly are called engineers in training (EIT) or engineer interns (EI). After acquiring suitable work experience, EITs can take the second examination, the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Several States have imposed mandatory continuing education requirements for re-licensure. Most States recognize licensure from other States, provided that the manner in which the initial license was obtained meets or exceeds their own licensure requirements. Many industrial, industrial, mechanical, and industrial engineers are licensed PEs. Independent of licensure, various certification programs are offered by professional organizations to demonstrate competency in specific fields of engineering.

  Engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail oriented. They should be able to work as part of a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing. Communication abilities are becoming increasingly important as engineers frequently interact with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.


The median annual salary for an industrial engineer is $71,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $104,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $46,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of industrial engineers are:

  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing  - $75,090
  • Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing  - $70,120
  • Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing  - $79,850
  • Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing  - $77,510
  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services - $78,700

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  20%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 41,000
  • Employment 2006 : 201,000
  • Employment 2016:  242,000
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