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Industrial engineers must have a bachelor’s degree. Employers also value experience, so cooperative education engineering programs at universities are also valuable.Education
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
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.Advancement
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Engineering Supervisor
Top Careers After Engineering Supervisor
Hispanic or Latino12.6%
Black or African American0.7%
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University of Phoenix16.6%
Rochester Institute of Technology6.6%
University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez6.2%
Texas A&M University6.2%
Pennsylvania State University6.0%
Michigan State University4.1%
Lawrence Technological University4.1%
Ferris State University3.7%
Oklahoma State University3.7%
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute3.5%
Arizona State University3.3%
University of Texas at El Paso3.3%
Iowa State University3.3%
University of Houston3.1%
Wayne State University2.9%
Louisiana Tech University2.9%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Reservoir Engineering Supervisor||Broken Hill Proprietary (USA), Inc.||Houston, TX||Oct 21, 2014||$225,720|
|Drilling Engineering Supervisor-Shale||Broken Hill Proprietary (USA) Inc.||Houston, TX||Mar 12, 2015||$214,776|
|Drilling Engineering Supervisor-Shale||Broken Hill Proprietary (USA) Inc.||Houston, TX||Mar 24, 2015||$197,954 -
|Drilling Engineering Supervisor||Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation||Houston, TX||Apr 25, 2016||$197,000|
|Production Engineering Supervisor||Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. LLC||San Francisco, CA||Sep 01, 2015||$190,000 -
|Corporate Facilities Engineering Supervisor||Pioneer Natural Resources USA, Inc.||Irving, TX||Aug 10, 2015||$186,320|
|Completions Engineering Supervisor||Occidental Petroleum Corporation||Houston, TX||Jan 27, 2016||$185,000|
|Corporate Facilities Engineering Supervisor||Pioneer Natural Resources USA, Inc.||Irving, TX||Sep 27, 2014||$170,000|
|Drilling Engineer Supervisor||Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation||Houston, TX||Apr 05, 2013||$160,000|
|Upstream Engineering Supervisor||Conocophillips Company||Houston, TX||Jan 08, 2014||$156,000 -
|Materials Engineering Supervisor||Johnson Matthey Inc.||San Jose, CA||Dec 01, 2016||$154,107|
|Reservoir Engineering Supervisor||Marathon Oil Company||Houston, TX||Oct 02, 2014||$150,000|
|Reservoir Engineering Supervisor||Marathon Oil Company||Houston, TX||Feb 20, 2015||$150,000|
|Engineering Supervisor||Areva Inc.||Charlotte, NC||Sep 08, 2015||$110,440|
|Plant Engineering, Supervisor||Transalta Centralia Generation LLC.||Centralia, WA||Dec 19, 2014||$110,000|
|Mechanical Engineering Supervisor||Bertin Engineering Associates, Inc.||Glen Rock, NJ||Jan 08, 2016||$110,000|
|Mechanical Engineer Supervisor||DRIL-Quip, Inc.||Houston, TX||Feb 03, 2014||$110,000|
|Engineer Supervisor||Cronus Technology, Inc.||Houston, TX||Sep 24, 2013||$109,512|
|Engineering Supervisor (Mechanical Engineer)||Bechtel National, Inc.||Richland, WA||Feb 26, 2013||$109,429 -
|Verification Engineering Supervisor-Electrical Systems||Magna Electronics, Inc.||Auburn Hills, MI||Dec 27, 2014||$108,170|
|Engineering Supervisor||Open Systems International, Inc.||Medina, MN||Jul 12, 2015||$107,723|
|Engineering Supervisor I||Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals, Inc.||Houston, TX||Jun 09, 2014||$96,408 -
|Engineering Supervisor||Texas Instruments Incorporated||Richardson, TX||Nov 04, 2014||$95,722|
|Engineering Supervisor||Texas Instruments Incorporated||Sherman, TX||Nov 11, 2014||$95,534|
|Engineering Supervisor-Luh (Light Utility Helicopter) Liaison||Airbus Helicopters, Inc.||Columbus, MS||Dec 15, 2014||$94,661 -
|Electrical Engineering Supervisor||Smart Alabama LLC||Luverne, AL||Sep 16, 2013||$94,000|
|Engineering Supervisor-Systems||Parker Hannifin Corporation||Columbus, OH||Aug 19, 2013||$93,954 -
|Engineering Supervisor-Mechanical||TRW Automotive Inc.||Livonia, MI||Oct 19, 2016||$93,850|
|Engineering Supervisor||Crown Castle USA, Inc.||Canonsburg, PA||Jan 20, 2016||$93,416|
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