Industrial Engineers Career Information
At School Soup we want to help you on your Industrial Engineers Career path. Here in our Industrial Engineers career section, we have lots of great information to help you learn all about Industrial Engineers. If you're interested in other possible careers, please select a career from the dropdown menu below to learn more about that specific career.
Nature of the WorkIndustrial engineers determine the most effective
ways for an organization to use the basic factors of production—people, machines,
materials, information, and energy—to make a product or to provide a service. They are the bridge between management goals and operational
performance. They are more concerned with increasing productivity through the
management of people, methods of business organization, and technology than
are engineers in other specialties, who generally work more with products or
processes. Although most industrial engineers work in manufacturing industries,
they also work in consulting services, healthcare, and communications.
To solve organizational, production, and related problems most efficiently, industrial engineers carefully study the product and its requirements, use mathematical methods such as operations research to meet those requirements, and design manufacturing and information systems. They develop management control systems to aid in financial planning and cost analysis, design production planning and control systems to coordinate activities and ensure product quality, and design or improve systems for the physical distribution of goods and services. Industrial engineers determine which plant location has the best combination of raw materials availability, transportation facilities, and costs. Industrial engineers use computers for simulations and to control various activities and devices, such as assembly lines and robots. They also develop wage and salary administration systems and job evaluation programs. Many industrial engineers move into management positions because the work is closely related.
The work of health and safety engineers is similar to that of industrial engineers in that they are concerned with the entire production process. They promote worksite or product safety and health by applying knowledge of industrial processes, as well as mechanical, chemical, and psychological principles. They must be able to anticipate and evaluate hazardous conditions as well as develop hazard control methods. They also must be familiar with the application of health and safety regulations.
EmploymentIndustrial engineers, including health and safety, held about 218,000 jobs in 2009. More than 65 percent of these jobs were in manufacturing industries. Because their skills can be used in almost any type of organization, industrial engineers are more widely distributed among manufacturing industries than are other engineers.
Their skills can be readily applied outside manufacturing as well. Some work in engineering and management services, utilities, and business services; others work for government agencies or as independent consultants.
A bachelor's degree in engineering is required for almost all entry-level engineering jobs. College graduates with a degree in a physical science or mathematics occasionally may qualify for some engineering jobs, especially in specialties in high demand. Most engineering degrees are granted in electrical, electronics, mechanical, or civil engineering. However, engineers trained in one branch may work in related branches. For example, many aerospace engineers have training in mechanical engineering. This flexibility allows employers to meet staffing needs in new technologies and specialties in which engineers may be in short supply. It also allows engineers to shift to fields with better employment prospects or to those that more closely match their interests.
Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in both mathematics and the physical and life sciences. General courses not directly related to engineering, such as those in the social sciences or humanities, are often a required component of programs. Many programs also include courses in general engineering. A design course, sometimes accompanied by a computer or laboratory class or both, is part of the curriculum of most programs.
In addition to the standard engineering degree, many colleges offer 2- or 4-year degree programs in engineering technology. These programs, which usually include various hands-on laboratory classes that focus on current issues in the application of engineering principles, prepare students for practical design and production work, rather than for jobs that require more theoretical and scientific knowledge. Graduates of 4-year technology programs may get jobs similar to those obtained by graduates with a bachelor's degree in engineering. Engineering technology graduates, however, are not qualified to register as professional engineers under the same terms as graduates with degrees in engineering. Some employers regard technology program graduates as having skills between those of a technician and an engineer.
Graduate training is essential for engineering faculty positions and many research and development programs, but is not required for the majority of entry-level engineering jobs. Many engineers obtain graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology and broaden their education. Many high-level executives in government and industry began their careers as engineers.
About 360 colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in engineering that are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), Inc., and about 230 colleges offer accredited programs in engineering technology. ABET accreditation is based on an examination of an engineering program's student achievement, program improvement, faculty, curriculum, facilities, and institutional commitment to certain principles of quality and ethics. Although most institutions offer programs in the major branches of engineering, only a few offer programs in the smaller specialties. Also, programs of the same title may vary in content. For example, some programs emphasize industrial practices, preparing students for a job in industry, whereas others are more theoretical and are designed to prepare students for graduate work. Therefore, students should investigate curriculums and check accreditations carefully before selecting a college.
Admissions requirements for undergraduate engineering schools include a solid background in mathematics (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus) and science (biology, chemistry, and physics), with courses in English, social studies, and humanities. Bachelor's degree programs in engineering typically are designed to last 4 years, but many students find that it takes between 4 and 5 years to complete their studies. In a typical 4-year college curriculum, the first 2 years are spent studying mathematics, basic sciences, introductory engineering, humanities, and social sciences. In the last 2 years, most courses are in engineering, usually with a concentration in one specialty. Some programs offer a general engineering curriculum; students then specialize on the job or in graduate school.
Some engineering schools and 2-year colleges have agreements whereby the 2-year college provides the initial engineering education, and the engineering school automatically admits students for their last 2 years. In addition, a few engineering schools have arrangements that allow students who spend 3 years in a liberal arts college studying pre-engineering subjects and 2 years in an engineering school studying core subjects to receive a bachelor's degree from each school. Some colleges and universities offer 5-year master's degree programs. Some 5-year or even 6-year cooperative plans combine classroom study and practical work, permitting students to gain valuable experience and to finance part of their education.
All 50 States and the District of Columbia require licensure for engineers who offer their services directly to the public. Engineers who are licensed are called professional engineers (PE). This licensure generally requires a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, 4 years of relevant work experience, and successful completion of a State examination. Recent graduates can start the licensing process by taking the examination in two stages. The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination can be taken upon graduation. Engineers who pass this examination commonly are called engineers in training (EIT) or engineer interns (EI). After acquiring suitable work experience, EITs can take the second examination, the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Several States have imposed mandatory continuing education requirements for relicensure. Most States recognize licensure from other States, provided that the manner in which the initial license was obtained meets or exceeds their own licensure requirements. Many civil, electrical, mechanical, and chemical engineers are licensed PEs. Independent of licensure, various certification programs are offered by professional organizations to demonstrate competency in specific fields of engineering.
Engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail oriented. They should be able to work as part of a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing. Communication abilities are important because engineers often interact with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.
Beginning engineering graduates usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers and, in large companies, also may receive formal classroom or seminar-type training. As new engineers gain knowledge and experience, they are assigned more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions. Engineers may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a staff or team of engineers and technicians. Some may eventually become engineering managers or enter other managerial or sales jobs.
Job OutlookDespite industrial growth and more complex business operations, overall employment of industrial engineers, including health and safety, is expected to for all occupations through 2010, reflecting greater use of automation in factories and offices. Employment of industrial engineers is expected to grow more slowly than average while health and safety engineers are expected to grow about as fast as average.
Because the main function of industrial and health and safety engineers is to make a higher quality product as efficiently and as safely as possible, their services should be in demand in the manufacturing sector as firms seek to reduce costs and increase productivity. There also is an increased demand for industrial engineers within the financial services sector, as more emphasis is put on information technology. Also, the growing concern for health and safety within work environments should increase the need for health and safety engineers.
EarningsMedian annual earnings of industrial engineers were $68,580 in 2009 The middle 50 percent earned between $57,530 and $81,050. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $45,140, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $96,370. Median annual earnings in the manufacturing industries employing the largest numbers of industrial engineers in 2009 were:
Error! Reference source not found.Motor vehicles and equipment
Electronic components and accessories
Computer and office equipment
Computer and data processing services
Aircraft and parts
Median annual earnings of health and safety engineers were $64,630 in 2009. The middle 50 percent earned between $49,230 and $77,500. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $40,710, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $92,320. In 2009, the median annual earnings of health and safety engineers in railroads were $66,970.
According to a 2009 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor’s degree candidates in industrial engineering received starting offers averaging about $58,320 a year; master’s degree candidates averaged $66,265 a year; and Ph.D. candidates were initially offered $69,800.
Engineers apply the principles of physical science and mathematics in their work. Other workers who use scientific and mathematical principles include architects, except landscape and naval; engineering and natural sciences managers; computer and information systems managers; computer programmers; computer software engineers; mathematicians; drafters; engineering technicians; sales engineers; science technicians; and physical and life scientists, including agricultural and food scientists, biological scientists, conservation scientists and foresters, atmospheric scientists, chemists and materials scientists, environmental scientists and hydrologists, geoscientists, and physicists and astronomers.
Sources of Additional InformationFor further information about industrial engineers, contact: