Industrial Engineering Jobs

Industrial engineering involves using production factors efficiently in order to provide services and create products. Industrial engineers analyze machines, people, energy, information and materials to see how productivity can be improved and increased. They use computer simulation and mathematical models to create manufacturing systems that help meet product requirements. They also create systems to help with finances and costs. They can design systems that help coordinate activities and maintain product quality and help companies design human resources-type systems that deal with wages, salaries and job evaluations. Because they perform management duties, many of those in the industrial engineering field move on to become managers.

Industrial engineering involves the use of science, math, engineering, behavioral science and management in order to solve production problems and find ways to make them more effective. Industrial engineers wear many hats - they may function as designers, problem solvers, coordinators and systems integrators. They may work on a variety of products or systems, such as designing workstations, creating new loan systems for a bank, streamlining hospital operations or finding ways to make lines shorter at a bank or theme park. They have to quickly become experts for the companies they work for. They must be knowledgeable of a company's culture, everyday activities, challenges and goals in a short amount of time.

Should you choose a career path in industrial engineering, you can expect to take courses in engineering, math, statistics, science, physics, mechanics, management, quality control, psychology, programming, operations research, circuit analysis, economics, production systems, design and thermodynamics. Those who plan to focus on manufacturing processes may want to take classes in billing, shipping and computer science. Manufacturing, production or administrative experience is highly regarded by employers. Because industrial engineering is broad, many colleges may offer concentrations within the field for study, such as operations research, production management, human factoring engineering and manufacturing systems. Master's degree programs are often flexible and allow you to take the courses you want or need in order to meet your career goals. However, a master's degree is generally only required for positions in the academic field, such as teaching.

Besides a thorough education, industrial engineering also requires analytical and problem-solving skills, as industrial engineers are called upon to analyze current processes and solve problems to improve production. They must also have excellent communication skills. They must be able to communicate their findings and recommendations, which may be difficult to hear for some clients who are stubborn about changing processes. Because of this, industrial engineers must also communicate with tact. They have to be careful about not only what they say, but how they say it.

Those in industrial engineering careers often have good working conditions. They may work in an office or travel to various sites to inspect worker habits and conditions. The work is generally challenging and satisfying. One of the most common drawbacks is that the hours can be long.

Industrial engineers account for nearly 215,000 jobs in the United States, the third-highest number of all the engineering specialties. Most of those in the industrial engineering field work as consultants in the aerospace, product manufacturing, architectural and engineering services fields. Michigan and California employ the highest number of industrial engineers, at more than 18,000 in each state. However, the highest-paying states are New Mexico, at more than $96,000 and Alaska with average annual wages above $103,000. Salaries in the industrial engineering field can range from nearly $50,000 to more than $112,000. The average starting salary is a little more than $55,000, with the overall average at nearly $69,000.

By 2018, industrial engineering is expected to grow faster than average, by 14 percent. Industrial engineers will be in high demand as companies look for ways to reduce waste, prevent costly delays, and save time and money. Because industrial engineering is broad, it is used in many industries, such as health care, insurance, banking, transportation, manufacturing, construction and government. Because many industrial engineers move on to management positions, there will be a need to replace these positions.

Last Updated: 06/08/2014

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