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Become An Industrial Engineer

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Working As An Industrial 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

  • $76,502

    Average Salary

What Does An Industrial 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.

Duties

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 Industrial Engineer

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

  • 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.

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.

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Industrial Engineer jobs

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Real Industrial Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Director Industrial Engineering Bourns Riverside, CA Nov 23, 2016 $175,188
Director, Industrial Engineering Bourns Inc. Riverside, CA Sep 01, 2015 $160,004
Lead Industrial Engineer Nokia USA Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Oct 01, 2015 $157,000
Lead Industrial Engineer Nokia USA Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jan 10, 2015 $157,000
Director Industrial Engineering Sally Beauty Supply, LLC Denton, TX Apr 25, 2016 $155,000
Operations Industrial Engineer Superbag Operating Ltd. Houston, TX Aug 23, 2016 $135,000 -
$150,000
Director of Industrial Engineering Origami Owl Chandler, AZ Jan 15, 2016 $132,579
Manager, Industrial Engineering Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. Wurtsboro, NY Jul 15, 2016 $132,192
Manager, Industrial Engineering Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. Grain Valley, MO Jul 15, 2016 $132,192
Manager, Industrial Engineering Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. Menomonee Falls, WI Jul 15, 2016 $132,192
Manager, Industrial Engineering Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. Patterson, CA Jul 15, 2016 $132,192
Manager, Industrial Engineering Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. Edgewood, MD Jul 15, 2016 $132,192
Staff Supplier Industrialization Engineer Tesla Motors, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Sep 19, 2016 $132,000 -
$142,000
Industrial Engineer Ultra Seating Co Inc. Grand Prairie, TX Sep 02, 2016 $77,002
Industrial Engineer II Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation Savannah, GA Jan 08, 2016 $77,000
Area Industrial Engineer Im Flash Technologies, LLC Lehi, UT Aug 22, 2016 $77,000
Industrialization Engineer Robert Bosch Automotive Steering LLC Florence, KY Feb 05, 2016 $77,000
Industrial Engineer Advantage Technical Services, Inc. Plymouth, MI Aug 24, 2015 $76,948
Industrial Engineer Advantage Technical Services, Inc. Highland Park, MI Aug 31, 2015 $76,948
Central Industrial Engineer Brose North America, Inc. Auburn Hills, MI Sep 05, 2015 $76,840
Central Industrial Engineer Brose North America Inc. Auburn Hills, MI Jan 27, 2016 $76,840
Industrial Engineer Gigahertz Hobbies, Inc. Orange, CA Sep 28, 2015 $67,744
Industrial Engineer Relevant Ads., Inc. Fountain Valley, CA Sep 02, 2015 $67,744
Industrial Engineer Advantech Corporation Irvine, CA Sep 08, 2015 $67,744
Industrial Engineer Panacea Products Corp Columbus, OH Jun 13, 2016 $67,642
Industrial Engineer Eagle Ottawa, LLC Rochester Hills, MI Sep 11, 2015 $67,619
Industrial Engineer II Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. Chandler, AZ Jul 28, 2016 $67,600 -
$101,400
Industrial Engineer IMEX Vision LLC Lake Forest, CA Sep 12, 2015 $67,517
Industrial Engineer A.B. Carter, Inc./ Gastonia, NC Mar 09, 2016 $67,500

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Top Skills for An Industrial Engineer

PlantLayoutContinuousImprovementEfficiencyFacilityLayoutMethodsCapacityAnalysisProceduresSafetyKaizenEventsCADSigmaCostReductionAssemblyLineLaborStandardsValueStreamMapsProcessFlowCostSavingsProductionLinesProcessImprovementProjectsProjectManagement

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Top Industrial Engineer Skills

  1. Plant Layout
  2. Continuous Improvement
  3. Efficiency
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Develop of warehouse and all plant layouts to improve the space utilization for new processes.
  • Trained teams in continuous improvement methodology and trained manufacturing staff on new processes and/or equipment technologies.
  • Eliminated unnecessary body part movement and improved working efficiency by using Human Motion Analysis.
  • Coordinate all facility layouts, production planning, and engineering activities to install modernized manufacturing areas.
  • Assisted on methods to improve production quality and efficiency.

Top Industrial Engineer Employers

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