Industrial Engineer: Career & Education Overview

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

Industrial engineers work in a variety of industries to examine all parts of a production process and optimize it. A bachelor's degree will get you into a job, but if you want to work on public projects you'll need to pass two licensing exams.

Essential Information

Industrial engineers help to streamline the process of manufacturing productivity. They sometimes have to work within manpower and budgetary constraints. In addition to earning a bachelor's degree, individuals might need to become licensed and can consider earning professional certifications.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Licensing Requirements Required for engineers who offer services to the public; must pass Fundamentals of Engineering and Principles and Practice of Engineering exams
Other Requirements Professional certification for career advancement
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1%
Average Salary (2015)* $86,990

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Industrial Engineer Career Education

Industrial engineers ensure that the production aspects of an organization are operating at an optimal level. These professionals consider all aspects of the production process, including machinery, employees, raw materials and energy resources. Industrial engineers could have to work within manpower and budgetary constraints. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many industrial engineers become managers due to the nature of their work (www.bls.gov).

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS indicated that employment opportunities for industrial engineers were expected to grow one percent from 2014-2024. The versatility of these professionals, plus the growing emphasis on workplace production, makes them attractive to many industries. The BLS also notes that additional job openings should be created out of the need to replace current industrial engineers who become managers or leave for another industry. In May 2015, the BLS reported that industrial engineers earned an average salary of $86,990 annually.

Educational Requirements

Prospective industrial engineering students can consider programs that are accredited by ABET, Inc., formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. According to ABET, many state licensing boards require applicants to hold a degree from an approved program (www.abet.org).

A bachelor's degree usually qualifies as sufficient education for most industrial engineering jobs. The curricula include topics in safety, human factors, planning and design. In addition to engineering courses, students must complete mathematical requirements in calculus, differential equations and linear algebra. Some programs allow students to take electives toward a concentration area, such as safety, healthcare management or manufacturing.

Licensing Information

The BLS indicates that engineers who work on public projects need to be licensed. Becoming licensed requires passing two exams, each of which have an industrial engineering format. The exams are administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (www.ncees.org). The first, the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, can be taken near graduation from an accredited program. After passing the FE test, industrial engineers must work for four years before taking the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam to complete licensure requirements.

Professional Certifications

Industrial engineers can also consider professional certifications for career advancement. The Association for Operations Management offers both the Certified in Production and Inventory Management and Certified Supply Chain Professional credentials (www.apics.org). Industrial engineers could also pursue Six Sigma certifications, which deal specifically with identifying problems in a process and eliminating them (www.sixsigmaonline.org). These credentials often include certifying exams and completion of additional academic or experience requirements.

Industrial engineers need only a bachelor's degree from an accredited program to qualify to work in many fields. You can specialize in a certain area, earn certifications that will help you move into more senior or management positions, and sit exams to earn a license that allows you to work on public projects. Job growth is expected to be slow through 2024, and salaries average in the upper $80,000s.


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