Career Information for a Degree in General Industrial Engineering

Sep 10, 2019

Degrees in industrial engineering typically cover math and engineering concepts and prepare graduates for a range of careers in the engineering field. Find out about the requirements of these programs and learn about career options, job growth, and salary info for industrial engineering graduates.

Industrial engineering professionals include industrial engineers, industrial production managers, and engineering managers. A bachelor's degree in general industrial engineering will prepare individuals to enter these career fields. For some positions a master's degree is preferred.

Essential Information

Industrial engineering is a growing field that combines business and engineering principles to accomplish projects. There are both undergraduate and graduate level degree programs that prepare graduates to enter the field of industrial engineering. Depending on the program, much of the general industrial engineering coursework will involve mathematics and hard sciences. Read on for some information on possible careers for industrial engineering graduates.

Career Titles Industrial Engineer Industrial Production Manager Engineering Manager
Education Requirements Bachelor's Bachelor's; MBA preferred in some cases Bachelor's; Master's preferred in some cases
Projected Job Outlook (2018-2028)* 8% growth 1% growth 3% growth
Median Salary (May 2018)* $87,040 $103,380 $140,760

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

An individual who completes an industrial engineering degree program may work in many industries. Several career options include industrial engineering, industrial production management or engineering management. Industrial production managers and engineering managers have additional prerequisites, such as business skills or engineering experience.

Industrial Engineer

The Institute of Industrial Engineers defines the profession as the implementation and improvement of coordinated systems, which include people, energy and equipment. These professionals combine business and engineering principles with a variety of projects, from layouts to manufacturing processes. Prior to a project, they research the existing system to determine where improvements can be made. Industrial engineers are also typically concerned with the resulting product's quality, timeline and budget.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for industrial engineers were expected to increase eight percent from 2018 to 2028. Because they are concerned with the production of goods and services, industrial engineers may find work in many industries. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median annual salary of an industrial engineer was $87,040.

Industrial Production Manager

According to the BLS, industrial production managers coordinate the production of manufactured goods, often interacting with managers from other departments, such as sales or logistics. Besides overseeing the system itself, they supervise production workers and supporting employees. The BLS states that industrial production managers are typically concerned with improving efficiency through methods like quality control programs. Some industrial managers specialize in areas like geothermal or biofuels.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS reported that the employment of industrial production managers was expected to show little or no change (1%) from 2018 to 2028, due to increased productivity. Individuals may need to be versed in other areas to find work. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median annual salary of an industrial production manager was $103,380.

Engineering Manager

O*Net Online defines engineering managers as the professionals who oversee and direct the activities of engineers. In addition to traditional engineering duties, these individuals typically have budgetary and personnel responsibilities. O*Net indicates that engineering managers interact with clients regularly through consultations and proposals. Most engineering managers have prior experience as an engineer before being promoted. According to the BLS, industrial engineers often assume management positions because their work encompasses many managerial duties.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS indicates that the employment of engineering managers was expected to increase three percent from 2018 to 2028, with outlooks varying by the branch of engineering. The BLS states that individuals in the engineering service industry will strong job prospects while manufacturing positions will decline. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median annual salary of an engineering manager was $140,760.

Industrial Engineering Degree Program Information

Prospective industrial engineering students may consider programs that are approved by ABET Inc., formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. According to ABET, graduating from an accredited industrial engineering program is preferred or required by many licensing boards, graduate schools and employers. Industrial engineering programs are offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Bachelor's and master's degrees may best prepare aspiring engineers for hands-on work in the field, while Ph.D programs typically prepare students for careers in academia and research.

Undergraduate programs typically contain significant mathematical prerequisites, including calculus, differential equations and linear algebra. During the final two years, students can concentrate on industrial engineering coursework, which includes topics in human factors, production design and manufacturing operations, and partake in internships to gain work experience and make professional connections. Graduate level program can focus on advanced coursework like production systems, statistics, quality control, research methods and manufacturing. Both thesis and non-thesis options are available at the master's degree level, and a dissertation is commonly required for doctoral students.

Industrial engineering professionals work in areas that involve engineering and business, such as manufacturing sectors. These professionals are required to have a bachelor's or master's degree, and can work as industrial engineers, industrial production managers or engineering managers. Education or experience in business may also be an asset for industrial production managers and engineering managers.

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