Mechanical Engineer Vs. Industrial Engineer

Mechanical and industrial engineers are both involved with design and production, but in very different ways. Compare details of their daily responsibilities, salaries and expected growth.

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Comparing Mechanical Engineers to Industrial Engineers

Mechanical engineers are responsible for dreaming up and developing essential products and machines, including heart monitors and vehicle engines. Industrial engineers are responsible for understanding the costs, materials and processes behind large-scale production to guide efficiency.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Mechanical Engineers Bachelor's Degree $84,190 9%
Industrial Engineers Bachelor's Degree $84,310 10%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Mechanical Engineers vs. Industrial Engineers

Mechanical and industrial engineers utilize a deep understanding of mathematics, physics, and analysis to develop machines and systems. The former specializes in thermodynamics, combustion, and electricity to make complex machines. The latter focuses on designing workflow and making production efficient. Additionally, professionals in both careers may work on teams during the planning stage, along with other engineers and designers.

Mechanical Engineers

Refrigerators, air-conditioners, and even elevators are created and developed by mechanical engineers. Similarly, electrical tools and vehicle engines are made more capable through the research done by these professionals, especially as they explore cutting-edge thermal sensors and energy efficient devices. In fact, these engineers are known for spending significant time in front of computers. They build models and simulations of their creations using computer-aided design. During this process, they also complete an analysis of the data produced by these experiments. If they find an issue in a prototype, mechanical engineers have the expertise to develop solutions.

Job responsibilities of a mechanical engineer include:

  • Understanding and utilizing schematics to build their models
  • Supervising the installation of engines and other electrical units
  • Overseeing and assisting with manufacturing to address issues and keep production within the deadline
  • Choosing the best materials for the prototype and final design

Industrial Engineers

Working in factories or industrial sites, these professionals bring workers and machines together in a safe and efficient way to make production less wasteful, which may include reorganizing the workspace. They ensure the production schedule is set and break a large project into smaller parts while giving priority to more pressing orders from clients or management. For adherence to safe engineering specifications and requirements set by the client, industrial engineers provide necessary quality control to make sure products meet these standards.

Job responsibilities of an industrial engineer include:

  • Managing and tracking inventory to order new materials when necessary
  • Streamlining shipping and receiving processes for finished products, raw materials and parts
  • Completing a cost analysis of producing new items
  • Presenting clients and stakeholders with a risk analysis on beginning new projects

Related Careers

If you're interested in a career as a mechanical engineer, you might also consider earning graduate degrees to qualify as a physicist, since both are interested in the movement and reactions of matter. If, however, you're more interested in a career as an industrial engineer, you may want to research a job as an engineering manager, because both pay close attention to budgets and deadlines.

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