Individuals with a textile engineering background can find employment in a wide range of industries and work settings. Medicine, mining, sports and education are just a few industries that require the knowledge of textile engineers. Whether researching new materials, improving existing manufacturing processes or creating new products, the work of a textile engineer is always interesting.
Textile engineers apply the principles of engineering to the design and manufacture of fiber, textiles, apparel and associated processes and products. It is a multidisciplinary role requiring sound knowledge of chemical, industrial and mechanical engineering. Chemical companies that produce polymers and fibers employ textile engineers to develop and improve their manufacturing processes. Firms that use biomedical materials, composites and sports textiles use these engineers to research and develop high-performance fabrics. Some textile engineers spend their entire careers in the lab conducting research into complex materials.
Education and Training
As with any engineering job, textile engineers require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field. ABET certifies many engineering programs available through colleges and universities. Though not required, many employers prefer hiring graduates from an accredited program. In addition, obtaining a license as a professional engineer usually requires graduating from an ABET-accredited program. Some institutions, such as North Carolina State University, offer a major in textile engineering where students benefit from a diverse interdisciplinary program geared specifically toward textiles and manufacturing. Bachelor's programs typically take four years to complete, though additional time may be required if pursuing a co-operative program. Graduates find that the experience gained from this type of program makes it easier to obtain employment.
Careers and Job Titles
Textile engineers find employment in a wide range of positions in diverse industries, though it's not always apparent. Textile labs and manufacturers frequently use the job title "Process Improvement Engineer" when looking for help. Supplier quality managers with a textile engineering background are used by multinational corporations to ensure their raw materials meet their standard prior to being shipped to factories worldwide. Textile engineers aren't restricted to working on the shop floor or in the lab. This background is extremely helpful to individuals working as technical sales and service representatives for biomedical textiles and composite sports fabric companies.
Salary and Outlook
Textile engineers can find work under a variety of occupational classifications, making it hard to determine an exact salary range. However, a good indication can be found by looking at the employment of engineers in textile mills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016 employment and wage estimates for textile mills reports that engineers in this industry earned a mean annual wage of $80,290. However, the job outlook for engineers in industry is not encouraging: The BLS forecasts employment growth of only 1 percent for industrial engineers from 2014 to 2024. It is unlikely that the textile industry in particular has better prospects.