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Industrial Engineers: Job Description & Career Info

Industrial engineers ensure that all components of the manufacturing process, from supply chain to assembly line operations and beyond, are best optimized for maximum productivity, quality, and efficiency. Read about the duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to see if this job is right for you.

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Career Definition for an Industrial Engineer

Industrial engineers manage and develop the human, technological, logistical, and materials resources of a production system with an emphasis on efficiency, productivity, and quality. Industrial engineers focus on problem solving, whether it's preparing for growth, performing cost analyses, establishing workplace safety procedures, supply chain management, or modification to the assembly line. While industrial engineers may be employed by either government agencies or private companies, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that aerospace product and parts manufacturing companies employ the highest numbers of industrial engineering professionals.

Education Bachelor's degree in industrial engineering, logistics, or business management
Job Skills Analytical, creative thinking, communication
Median Salary (May 2015)* $83,470
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Education Required

Industrial engineers typically hold a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering, logistics, or business management, although most employers prefer a master's degree in a related field and work experience, especially for advanced positions. Industrial engineers may earn certificates in specialties like health care, supply chain management, project management, and engineering management through the Institute of Industrial Engineers. State and local certification and licensing requirements may also apply. Industrial engineers can expect to study physics, computers, chemistry, electronics, manufacturing, ergonomics, social sciences, math, and business.

Skills Required

Industrial engineers require strong analytical and creative thinking skills for effective decision-making. Industrial engineers should also be good communicators because they work with a variety of professionals, from management to front-line employees, as well as their clients.

Career and Economic Outlook

Industrial engineers can expect job growth of about 1% from 2014-2024, slower than the average rate of growth expected of all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS published in May 2015 that the median annual salary among industrial engineers was $83,470; engineers working in Alaska, California, and Wyoming earned more money than their counterparts in other states.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options to an industrial engineer include:

Cost Estimator

With a bachelor's degree related to construction, manufacturing or business disciplines, cost estimators gather information to estimate the resources needed to construct and manufacture things, or to provide specific services. The BLS expected faster than average employment growth of 9% from 2014 through 2024. That same source also revealed the annual median salary of cost estimators as $60,390 in 2015.

Health and Safety Engineer

Usually having a bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline, health and safety engineers strive to protect people by designing systems and procedures concerning various types of consumer products. As of May 2015, they earned a median salary of $84,600 per year, the BLS said, and could look forward to average employment growth of 6% between 2014 and 2024.

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