Industrial engineers determine the most effective methods for the use of machines, materials, employees, energy and information in factories, offices, stores and other settings. They focus on increasing productivity through effective management of workers, technology and methods of business organization. In addition, many industrial engineers take management positions since their work is closely related to managers' duties.
To maximize efficiency, they evaluate product requirements and then design information and manufacturing systems to meet those requirements. Industrial engineers use mathematical models and methods. They also create management control systems to aid in cost analysis and financial planning.
An industrial engineer may create production planning and control systems to coordinate activities and to ensure the quality of products. Industrial engineers develop job evaluation programs and wage and salary administration systems. They also create or enhance systems for the physical distribution of goods and services.
Sample job titles include process engineer, manufacturing specialist, production engineer and operations engineer.
- Determine manufacturing processes, production standards and staff requirements
- Develop manufacturing methods, cost analysis systems and labor utilization standards in order to efficiently utilize staff and facilities
- Determine standards and set quality and reliability objectives for finished products
- Coordinate quality control activities and goals to resolve production problems, minimize costs and maximize product reliability
- Consult with managers, staff members and vendors regarding procedures, purchases, manufacturing capabilities, product specifications and the status of projects
- Provide recommendations for enhancing the use of materials, personnel and utilities
- Draft and design layout of materials, workspace and equipment in order to show maximum efficiency
- Confer with management and personnel to develop production and design standards
They work in manufacturing plants and offices and other settings. An industrial engineer needs good creative thinking and analytical skills. They should also have good communications and organizational skills and be attentive to details.
In 2008 the median annual earnings for industrial engineers was $73,820. The highest paid 10 percent earned $107,270.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 14 percent employment growth for industrial engineers from 2008 to 2018 which is faster than average for all occupations.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Most entry-level industrial engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. Those with a degree in mathematics or in a physical science may occasionally qualify for some engineering positions, particularly in specialties that are in high demand. Some employers prefer candidates that have a master's degree in a related field and work experience, particularly for advanced positions.
Beneficial courses include chemistry, physics, electronics, computers, ergonomics, business, manufacturing, math and social sciences.
Industrial engineers can acquire certificates in specialties such as supply chain management, healthcare and project management from the Institute of Industrial Engineers.
The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology provides accreditation for college and university engineering programs. In addition, professional certification can be beneficial when looking for a job.
Every state requires licensure for engineers that offer their services directly to the public. Licensure typically requires a degree from an ABET accredited engineering program, four years of relevant work experience and passing a state examination.
The primary job providers are durable goods manufacturers, engineering and business services companies, the U.S Departments of Transportation, Defense, Interior and Agriculture; municipal government agencies and state government agencies.
Schools for Industrial Engineers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.