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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 Planning Engineer
Top Careers After Planning Engineer
Hispanic or Latino12.0%
Black or African American1.9%
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Texas A&M University11.2%
University of Houston6.5%
University of Phoenix6.5%
Arizona State University5.9%
Colorado School of Mines5.9%
University of Texas at Austin4.7%
Montana Tech of the University of Montana4.7%
Mississippi State University4.7%
University of Texas at Arlington4.1%
Georgia Institute of Technology -4.1%
University of South Florida3.5%
University of Nebraska - Lincoln3.5%
George Washington University3.5%
Southern Illinois University Carbondale3.5%
Pennsylvania State University3.5%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Execution Planning Engineer||NES Global, LLC||Houston, TX||Apr 30, 2013||$250,000|
|Execution Planning Engineer||NES Global, LLC||Houston, TX||Jan 21, 2014||$250,000|
|Senior Planning Engineer||Turner and Townsend, Inc.||Houston, TX||Oct 21, 2014||$184,000|
|Planning Engineer II||The Global Edge Consultants, LLC||Houston, TX||Oct 01, 2014||$171,392|
|Product Planning Engineer-Marketing||Xilinx, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Nov 11, 2013||$155,000|
|Planning Engineer||Occidental Petroleum Corp||Bakersfield, CA||Dec 12, 2014||$125,500|
|Planning Engineer||Occidental Petroleum Corporation||Bakersfield, CA||Oct 01, 2014||$125,000|
|Planning Engineer||Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation||Bakersfield, CA||Aug 01, 2013||$120,000|
|Lead Planning Engineer (Controls)-Fleet Integrity Planning||Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc.||Houston, TX||Dec 16, 2015||$120,000|
|Planning Engineer||Occidental Petroleum Corporation||Bakersfield, CA||Sep 13, 2014||$120,000|
|Capacity Planning Engineer||Twitter, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Sep 07, 2013||$120,000|
|Capacity Planning Engineer||Twitter, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Apr 15, 2013||$120,000|
|Senior Transmission Planning Engineer||Smart Wires, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Sep 28, 2015||$118,959 -
|System Planning Engineer||Central Rural Electric Cooperative||Stillwater, OK||Aug 18, 2016||$91,104 -
|Transmission Planning Engineer||Pacific Gas and Electric Company||San Francisco, CA||Nov 03, 2014||$91,000|
|Planning Engineer||Embraer Aircraft Holding, Inc.||Melbourne, FL||Oct 27, 2016||$90,584|
|CVD Parts Planning Engineer||Samsung Austin Semiconductor, LLC||Austin, TX||Nov 19, 2015||$90,023 -
|Staff Transmission Planning Engineer||Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc.||Brea, CA||Aug 11, 2016||$90,000|
|Engineer, Transmission Planning||National Grid USA Service Company, Inc.||Waltham, MA||Sep 05, 2013||$90,000|
|Staff Transmission Planning Engineer||Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc.||Brea, CA||Nov 08, 2016||$90,000|
|Operations Planning Engineer||Welspun Pipes Inc.||Little Rock, AR||Mar 30, 2015||$89,960|
|Power Systems Research & Planning Engineer||Pwrsolutions, Inc.||Dallas, TX||Jun 01, 2016||$80,205|
|Generation & Transmission Planning Engineer||Pwrsolutions, Inc.||Dallas, TX||Jul 01, 2016||$80,205|
|Project Planning Engineer||Welspun Pipes, Inc.||Little Rock, AR||Jun 01, 2014||$80,000|
|Principal Transmission Planning & Optimization ENG||Credence Mobile, Inc.||Irving, TX||Sep 01, 2014||$80,000|
|Facilities Planning/Engineering Services||Enbridge Employee Services, Inc.||Houston, TX||Sep 07, 2013||$80,000 -
|System Planning Engineer||New York Power Authority||White Plains, NY||Aug 04, 2015||$79,875|
|Test Planning Engineer||Altair Productdesign, Inc.||Auburn Hills, MI||Jun 08, 2015||$79,723|
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