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Become An Engineer

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Working As An Engineer

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Deal with People

  • $66,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Engineer Do

Industrial engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.


Industrial engineers typically do the following:

  • Review production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand methods that are applied and activities that take place in manufacturing and services
  • Figure out how to manufacture parts or products, or deliver services, with maximum efficiency
  • Develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient
  • Enact quality control procedures to resolve production problems or minimize costs
  • Design control systems to coordinate activities and production planning in order to ensure that products meet quality standards
  • Confer with clients about product specifications, vendors about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing capabilities, and staff about the status of projects

Industrial engineers apply their skills to many different situations, from manufacturing to healthcare systems to business administration. For example, they design systems for

  • moving heavy parts within manufacturing plants
  • delivering goods from a company to customers, including finding the most profitable places to locate manufacturing or processing plants
  • evaluating job performance
  • paying workers

Industrial engineers focus on how to get the work done most efficiently, balancing many factors, such as time, number of workers needed, available technology, actions workers need to take, achieving the end product with no errors, workers’ safety, environmental concerns, and cost.

To find ways to reduce waste and improve performance, industrial engineers study product requirements carefully. Then they use mathematical methods and models to design manufacturing and information systems to meet those requirements most efficiently.

Their versatility allows industrial engineers to engage in activities that are useful to a variety of businesses, governments, and nonprofits. For example, industrial engineers engage in supply chain management to help businesses minimize inventory costs, conduct quality assurance activities to help businesses keep their customer bases satisfied, and work in the growing field of project management as industries across the economy seek to control costs and maximize efficiencies.

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How To Become An Engineer

Industrial engineers must have a bachelor’s degree. Employers also value experience, so cooperative education engineering programs at universities are also valuable.


Industrial engineers need a bachelor’s degree, typically in industrial engineering. However, many industrial engineers have degrees in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, industrial engineering technology, or general engineering. Students interested in studying industrial engineering should take high school courses in mathematics, such as algebra, trigonometry, and calculus; computer science; and sciences such as chemistry and physics.

Bachelor’s degree programs include lectures in classrooms and practice in laboratories. Courses include statistics, production systems planning, and manufacturing systems design, among others. Many colleges and universities offer cooperative education programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education.

A few colleges and universities offer 5-year degree programs in industrial engineering that lead to a bachelor’s and master’s degree upon completion, and several more offer similar programs in mechanical engineering. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as a professor at a college or university or to engage in research and development. Some 5-year or even 6-year cooperative education plans combine classroom study with practical work, permitting students to gain experience and to finance part of their education.

Programs in industrial engineering are accredited by ABET.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Industrial engineers use creativity and ingenuity to design new production processes in many kinds of settings in order to reduce the use of material resources, time, or labor while accomplishing the same goal.

Critical-thinking skills. Industrial engineers create new systems to solve problems related to waste and inefficiency. Solving these problems requires logic and reasoning to identify strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to the problems.

Listening skills. These engineers often operate in teams, but they also must solicit feedback from customers, vendors, and production staff. They must listen to customers and clients in order to fully grasp ideas and problems the first time.

Math skills. Industrial engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. In designing facilities for manufacturing and processes for providing services, these engineers deal with several issues at once, from workers’ safety to quality assurance.

Speaking skills. Industrial engineers sometimes have to explain their instructions to production staff or technicians before they can make written instructions available. Being able to explain concepts clearly and quickly is crucial to preventing costly mistakes and loss of time.

Writing skills. Industrial engineers must prepare documentation for other engineers or scientists, or for future reference. The documentation must be coherent and explain their thinking clearly so that the others can understand the information.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as an industrial engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education in order to keep their licenses. Most states recognize licenses from other states, as long as the other state’s licensing requirements meet or exceed their own licensing requirements.


Beginning industrial engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In large companies, new engineers also may receive formal training in classes or seminars. As beginning engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move on to more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.

Eventually, industrial engineers may advance to become technical specialists, such as quality engineers or facility planners. In that role, they supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Obtaining a master’s degree facilitates such specialization and thus advancement.

Many industrial engineers move into management positions because the work they do is closely related to the work of managers. For more information, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

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Engineer jobs


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Engineer Career Paths

Senior Software Engineer Chief Technology Officer
Chief Information Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Software Engineer
Chief Technology Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Information Technology Manager
Director Of Information
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Systems Engineer Information Technology Manager Technical Services Manager
Director Of Technology And Services
11 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Systems Engineer Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Director
10 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Systems Administrator
Information Technology Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Engineer Project Engineer Program Manager
Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Engineering Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Senior Project Manager Senior Product Manager
Product Management Director
12 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Systems Analyst Business Analyst
Product Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Business Analyst Product Manager
Product Marketing Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Software Engineer Business Analyst Product Manager
Senior Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Project Manager
Senior Project Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Engineering Manager Program Manager General Manager
Vice President & General Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Engineering Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager Business Developer
Vice President, Business Development
13 Yearsyrs
Project Leader Technical Manager Technical Director
Vice President, Technology
11 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Beater Engineer 12.8 years
Hoisting Engineer 11.3 years
Railroad Engineer 8.2 years
Ordnance Engineer 7.4 years
Fire Engineer 6.8 years
Naval Engineer 6.7 years
Forest Engineer 6.7 years
Advisory Engineer 6.5 years
Propeller Engineer 6.4 years
Domestic Engineer 5.9 years
Staking Engineer 5.5 years
Steam Engineer 5.2 years
Street Engineer 5.2 years
Stress Engineer 5.1 years
Marine Engineer 5.0 years
County Engineer 5.0 years
Driver Engineer 5.0 years
Treating Engineer 4.9 years
Customer Engineer 4.8 years
City Engineer 4.8 years
Combat Engineer 4.7 years
Standards Engineer 4.7 years
Principal Engineer 4.7 years
Broadcast Engineer 4.6 years
Aerospace Engineer 4.6 years
Tool Engineer 4.5 years
Budget Engineer 4.5 years
Aircraft Engineer 4.5 years
Engineer In Charge 4.5 years
Principle Engineer 4.5 years
Medical Engineer 4.4 years
Nuclear Engineer 4.4 years
Senior Engineer 4.3 years
Staff Engineer 4.3 years
Smelting Engineer 4.2 years
Reservoir Engineer 4.2 years
Watch Engineer 4.2 years
Equipment Engineer 4.1 years
Plant Engineer 4.1 years
Welding Engineer 4.0 years
Engineer/Producer 4.0 years
Civil Engineer 4.0 years
Building Engineer 4.0 years
Clinical Engineer 3.9 years
Results Engineer 3.9 years
Geodetic Engineer 3.9 years
Reactor Engineer 3.9 years
Mine Engineer 3.9 years
Gas Engineer 3.9 years
Radio Engineer 3.9 years
Port Engineer 3.9 years
Head Engineer 3.8 years
Body Engineer 3.8 years
Textile Engineer 3.8 years
Traffic Engineer 3.8 years
Meter Engineer 3.8 years
District Engineer 3.8 years
Sales Engineer 3.8 years
Petroleum Engineer 3.7 years
Recording Engineer 3.7 years
Shift Engineer 3.7 years
Fuels Engineer 3.7 years
Facility Engineer 3.7 years
Highway Engineer 3.7 years
Circuits Engineer 3.7 years
Factory Engineer 3.6 years
Mud Engineer 3.6 years
Video Engineer 3.6 years
Product Engineer 3.6 years
Engineer, Methods 3.6 years
Optical Engineer 3.5 years
Liaison Engineer 3.5 years
Blueprint Engineer 3.5 years
Lighting Engineer 3.5 years
Audio Engineer 3.5 years
Packaging Engineer 3.5 years
Laser Engineer 3.5 years
Component Engineer 3.5 years
Process Engineer 3.5 years
Resident Engineer 3.5 years
Deck Engineer 3.5 years
Design Engineer 3.4 years
Team Lead Engineer 3.4 years
Loads Engineer 3.4 years
Service Engineer 3.4 years
Detail Engineer 3.4 years
Switch Engineer 3.4 years
Avionics Engineer 3.4 years
Plastics Engineer 3.4 years
Project Engineer 3.4 years
Lead Engineer 3.4 years
Knowledge Engineer 3.4 years
Controls Engineer 3.4 years
Safety Engineer 3.3 years
Compress Engineer 3.3 years
Planning Engineer 3.3 years
Corrosion Engineer 3.3 years
Microwave Engineer 3.3 years
Advanced Engineer 3.3 years
Hardware Engineer 3.3 years
Quality Engineer 3.3 years
Firmware Engineer 3.3 years
Usability Engineer 3.2 years
Marketing Engineer 3.2 years
Material Engineer 3.2 years
Software Engineer 3.2 years
Division Engineer 3.2 years
LAN Engineer 3.2 years
Cost Engineer 3.2 years
Systems Engineer 3.2 years
Logging Engineer 3.2 years
Hvac Engineer 3.2 years
Heating Engineer 3.2 years
Network Engineer 3.1 years
Utility Engineer 3.1 years
Engineering Aide 3.1 years
Freight Engineer 3.1 years
Photonics Engineer 3.1 years
Graphic Engineer 3.1 years
Field Engineer 3.1 years
Drilling Engineer 3.1 years
Studio Engineer 3.1 years
Engineer/Estimator 3.1 years
Sound Engineer 3.1 years
Rate Engineer 3.0 years
Logistics Engineer 3.0 years
Telecom Engineer 3.0 years
Water Engineer 3.0 years
Computer Engineer 3.0 years
Test Engineer 3.0 years
Diesel Engineer 3.0 years
Plating Engineer 3.0 years
Station Engineer 3.0 years
Engineer 3.0 years
Municipal Engineer 2.9 years
Genetic Engineer 2.9 years
Yarder Engineer 2.9 years
Space Engineer 2.9 years
Chemical Engineer 2.9 years
Drafting Engineer 2.9 years
Refining Engineer 2.9 years
Relay Engineer 2.9 years
Signal Engineer 2.9 years
Voice Engineer 2.9 years
Landscape Engineer 2.9 years
Research Engineer 2.9 years
Piping Engineer 2.9 years
Radar Engineer 2.9 years
Survey Engineer 2.8 years
Database Engineer 2.8 years
Custodial Engineer 2.8 years
Hydraulic Engineer 2.8 years
Washer Engineer 2.8 years
Ferry Engineer 2.8 years
Device Engineer 2.8 years
Unix Engineer 2.8 years
Base Engineer 2.8 years
Solutions Engineer 2.7 years
Pre Sales Engineer 2.7 years
Lan/Wan Engineer 2.7 years
Fuel Cell Engineer 2.7 years
Start-Up Engineer 2.7 years