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What Do Industrial Engineers Do

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Boosting Production with Efficiency

As a working mother, you have learned how important it is to find ways to make your home run more efficiently. If developing efficient solutions is your forte, consider a career as an industrial engineer. These well-paid professionals design efficient systems for the workplace that eliminate wastefulness in production processes.

Job Description

An industrial engineer's job is to improve manufacturing processes. She works to find better and more efficient ways to use employees, machinery, technology and other company assets to improve plant or facility operations. The job involves studying efficiency reports about a facility and then examining how production rates are affected by factors like speed, quality control and worker safety. From this, industrial engineers develop strategies to improve the procedure or product. The systems they design include those for:

  • Getting workers paid
  • Transporting heavy parts within manufacturing plants
  • Getting product from a company to customers
  • Determining the best and most profitable place to locate a plant
  • Evaluating employee job performance.

In addition, if a company begins making new products, an industrial engineer assists in working out the new processes required.

Education Requirements

If you want to become an industrial engineer, start in high school with classes in algebra, trigonometry, calculus, chemistry, physics and computer sciences. You'll then need a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, industrial engineering technology, or general engineering. Ideally, you will also get related job experience, so if your college offers on-the-job training programs, be sure to enroll. Many colleges and universities offer cooperative education programs in which you can gain practical experience.

You might also consider a graduate degree if you are interested in teaching at the university level or working in research and development. Some schools offer five-year degree programs in industrial engineering that lead to both a bachelor's and a master's degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an industrial engineer is $84,310. Median means that half of the industrial engineers in the country earn less than this amount, and half earn more. While a master's degree will assist you in getting a job in a university or in research, no statistics suggest that it will bring you a significantly higher salary for an entry-level job in the industry. According to Salary.com, you will earn less than $1,000 per year more if you have a master's degree instead of just a bachelor's degree.

Relevant Industry

Industrial engineers generally work in the manufacturing industry, including computer and electronic manufacturing, transportation equipment manufacturing, machinery manufacturing or fabricated metal product manufacturing. Since they are not as specialized as other engineers, industrial engineers can work in a wider range of industries, including consulting and engineering services, research and development firms and wholesale trade. They can also work in companies offering professional, scientific and technical services.

Years of Experience

According to Pay Scale, the average salary in the United States for industrial engineers is $65,000. Those just starting out will probably see salaries of 5 percent less than this. After five to ten years, you may see a salary 14 percent higher. Industrial engineers with 10 to 20 years experience typically earn 23 percent more, while those with over 20 years can get a salary that is 31 percent higher.

Job Outlook Trend

Employment of industrial engineers will grow 10 percent over the next decade, faster than the average for all occupations.