Operations Engineer: Job Description and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an operations engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and career outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

Operations engineers can be found in a variety of industries and roles. In general, these engineers work to make sure that all process and functions under their control are working correctly and efficiently. All that is needed is a bachelor's degree in engineering but if a specialization looks interesting, a bachelor's related to that focus may also suffice.

Essential Information

Operations engineers, sometimes referred to as industrial engineers, work in a wide variety of settings and roles, optimizing the overall efficiency of businesses and other organizations. A bachelor's degree is the typical education required for this career and many schools offer bachelor's degree programs in industrial and operations engineering; this major is just one of several options for someone interested in working in the field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% (for all industrial engineers)
Median Salary (2015)* $83,470 (for all industrial engineers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Operations Engineer Job Description

The job of an operations engineer is to make sure a company's operations, such as manufacturing and shipping, work properly and meet factory and management specifications. These engineers handle any repairs or upgrades to the machinery and coordinate with other department heads to fine-tune their operations systems.

Operations engineers also routinely examine machinery for defects and communicate maintenance schedules to department heads. They work as part of a team for a company and interact with computer and software engineers, quality control specialists and others to increase efficiency and establish best practices. Operations engineers can train managers and other personnel to use new and upgraded machinery, so they can teach the other workers.

Career Opportunities

Operations engineers can be found in several areas, including manufacturing and traffic systems. According to the Institute of Industrial Engineers, professionals in this field work as distribution managers, consultants, cost estimators, and more, in addition to working as engineers (www.iienet2.org). The settings in which these individuals find work include corporations, city governments, and universities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of industrial engineers is projected to grow by one percent between 2014 and 2024. The median annual salary earned by these engineers was $83,470 in May 2015, per the BLS.

Operations Engineer Education Requirements

The basic requirement of an operations engineer is a bachelor's degree in engineering from a four-year university. However, since operations engineering applies to many fields, some of them may be specialized to a particular industry. For example, a degree in computer science may suffice for a career in network operations engineering.

Many universities offer students the opportunity to choose a specialty for their degrees, such as industrial or mechanical engineering. Classes pertaining to engineering include mathematics, chemistry, physics, and engineering courses.

Students can gain further specialization through master's and doctorate degrees in engineering. Many organizations offer certification in specific areas of engineering. One such organization is the Transportation Professional Certification Board, which offers the Professional Traffic Operations Engineer certification.

The role of an operations engineer combines supervisory, training, administrative, and technical responsibilities. They can find employment in many different industries, such as transportation, technology and manufacturing. Beyond a bachelor's degree program, operations engineers can further pursue a master's or doctorate program or certification to specialize themselves in their field.

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