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Career Information for a Degree in Industrial Engineering

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

With a bachelor's degree that stresses science and math, you may qualify for an entry-level position in some area of industrial engineering. Becoming licensed allows you to work as an independent contractor and provide engineering services to the public. Professional certification can enhance your standing.

Essential Information

Industrial engineering is designed for those looking to apply engineering principles to the production process, helping increase quality and efficiency. These professionals may work with the entire supply chain and look over production factors like employees, safety and budgetary concerns. These engineers may also be involved in employee performance and evaluation.

Students who get a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering can go on to pursue many types of entry-level positions. The engineering curriculum includes topics in human factors, operations research and manufacturing processes. Licensed engineers can offer their services to the public and perform consulting duties.

Career Safety Engineers Industrial Production Managers Industrial Engineers
Required Education Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Certifications offered; licensure sometimes required Voluntary certification is available Licensure recommended
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% Decline -4% 1%
Median Salary (2015)* $84,600 annually $93,940 annually $83,470 annually

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

Career Options

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering can go on to pursue many different careers. These include safety engineering, industrial engineering and industrial production management. Below are overviews and detailed descriptions of three possible career options for industrial engineering majors.

Safety Engineers

Because industrial engineers are often concerned with workplace safety, they may work as safety engineers. According to the American Society of Safety Engineers, safety professionals, the group that encompasses safety engineers, identify potential hazards, put protocols in place to prevent accidents and test their effectiveness. These professionals have many specialization areas, including environmental health and industrial health. Safety engineers often need to be knowledgeable about federal and local safety regulations. Employment opportunities from 2014-2024 are expected to grow by 6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of 2015, the annually median salary for safety engineers was $84,600.

Industrial Production Managers

Industrial production managers may have earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. These professionals are concerned with many of the same production aspects as industrial engineers, such as quality and cost. They often work with leaders from other departments including sales and supply chain managers. According to the BLS, job prospects in this field from 2014-2024 are expected to decrease by 4%. The median salary for these managers as of May 2015 was $93,940 annually.

Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers are prepared to devise efficient ways to use materials, information and employees. Their main goal is to eradicate any wastefulness in the production process. Typical work environments for these professionals include factories, the office and any other place they are trying to improve. According to the BLS, industrial engineers made a median salary of $83,470 annually as of May 2015. The job growth for this career from 2014-2024 is expected to be 1%.

Educational Requirements

A bachelor's degree is sufficient for most entry-level industrial engineering jobs. These curricula include advanced math and science, such as calculus, physics, differential equations and linear algebra. The engineering curricula require topics in safety and production, including human factors, operations research and manufacturing processes. Students may have the option of pursuing concentrations and many perform cooperative internships to gain work experience.

Licensing Information

According to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), licensed engineers may offer their services to the public and perform consulting duties. Becoming licensed requires passing two NCEES-sponsored exams. Students near graduation may take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, which has a version specific to industrial engineering. After passing the FE, industrial engineers must work for four years before they can sit for the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, which typically completes the licensing process.

Professional Certifications

Certifications are available for industrial engineers, depending on the type of work they do. Professionals who work in the manufacturing industry may benefit from the credentials offered by the Association for Operations Management. Six Sigma certifications, which involve identifying problems and solving them, may also be helpful.

Bachelor's degree programs in industrial engineering generally present you with the opportunity to concentrate in a specific area of the discipline. While employment opportunities for the foreseeable future for safety engineers are projected to increase at the same rate as the national average for all occupations, those for industrial engineers are expected to increase at a much slower rate and those for industrial production managers are expected to decrease. While professional certifications may be beneficial to your career, licensure is only required if you offer engineering services to the public.


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