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Industrial Engineer

Industrial Engineer

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The Organizer
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The Persuader
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The Problem Solver

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Management Analysts, Logisticians

Job Description

Industrial engineers research, design, and implement systems to maximize the efficiency of production processes. Their work involves minimizing wastefulness through precise coordination of time, workers, machinery, materials, workers’ safety, environmental concerns, and cost.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Job satisfaction: watching your design being used to successfully improve the efficiency of your company
  • Pay: a good solid salary
  • Intellectually challenging: making use of the technical and life skills acquired in university
  • Job security: the function of industrial engineers is quite in-demand
$84,310
The Inside Scoop
Day in the Life
  • There IS no typical day for an engineer. There is always going to be something breaking, going wrong, ordered wrong, or refusing to fit. In all other careers, problems are obstacles to the job - but in engineering, problems ARE the job!
  • Mornings may start off with personal time to respond to emails and conduct some project management. Organization and communication is critical in this field because much of the work is done in teams.
  • The rest of the day may be spent collaborating on various assigned projects.
  • Most of this work is done on a computer (using Excel for data analysis, Autocad for drawings, Access for database updating, etc),
  • A third of the work day is spent out on the factory floor. Wearing jeans, steel-toed boots, and safety goggles, industrial engineers blend in with the machines as they study them and try to find solutions to either fix or improve them.
  • Being flexible to colleagues’ work dynamics is important, as industrial engineers may be working with hundreds of other employees, both domestically and internationally
  • An Industrial Engineer consultant has similar job responsibilities, except their duties require extra precaution in terms of organization and communication since they get the opportunity to work with different companies
Skills Needed

Soft Skills

  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving

Technical Skills

  • Math: calculus, trigonometry, etc.
  • Analytical or scientific software: Dataxiom StatMost; Windward Technologies GRG2; Wolfram Research Mathematica; Workcell simulation software
  • Computer aided design CAD software: Autodesk AutoCAD, Dassault Systemes CATIA, International TechneGroup IGESworks, PTC Creo Parametric
  • Industrial control software: Allen Bradley PanelView, Computer numerical control CNC software, Human machine interface HMI software, Nupro CastView
Different Types of Organizations
  • Consulting firm
  • Manufacturing industry
Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • Challenging workload in university: industrial engineering programs require 4 years of intense effort, organization, and discipline
  • May have to start as an intern or in a lower paying entry-level position: even still, starting pay is usually quite competitive and there is good potential for salary increase in this field
Current Industry Trends
  • The good news is virtually all production industries have use of an industrial engineer
  • The current “buzz-field” is software and computers. Knowledge of computers and programmes, especially Excel, is very desirable
What kind of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…
  • Tinkering, building, playing with things
  • Breaking apart small gadgets (even as small as a pen!) and seeing if you can fix/redesign it
  • An interest in studying statistics and/or maths
2016 Employment
257,900
2026 Projected Employment
283,000
Education and Training Needed

Basic Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering (also acceptable is mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, industrial engineering technology, or general engineering)
  • Cooperative education programs allow students to gain practical experience while completing their degree, but may prolong the amount of time required to achieve a BA

Requirements for State licensure:

  • Not required for entry-level positions, but a Professional Engineering (PE) license, allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, and can be acquired later in one’s career
  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

Requirements for Career Advancement

  • Experience/on-the-job training
  • Some universities offer programs which allow students to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering within 5 years
  • A masters is not required for entry-level jobs but it open opportunities for engineers to lecture as a professor at a university or to conduct research and development
Things to look for in an University
  • Make sure programs in industrial engineering are accredited by ABET
  • Program should be linked to YOUR genuine interests! E.g. For Industrial Engineering, it helps if you are interested in statistics
  • Look at the statistics of how successful were the kids coming out of the school… at what rate did they get jobs?
  • Good, well-rounded curriculum: trains you in not just what’s pertinent to your program (Industrial Engineering), but also teaches you other in-demand skills, e.g. Computers, since programming is a really important class to take
Things to do during high school/college
  • High School: Take challenging classes in math and science (AP level), join science clubs (e.g. robotics). Taking AP exams in the Arts and Humanities for college credit allows you to clear those classes and ease your workload in college so you can spend more time studying Maths and Sciences.
  • College: Join engineering group and mentoring program
Typical Roadmap
Industrial Engineer roadmap gif
How to land your 1st job
  • College summer/semester Internship: best chance of creating a network within a company, and also allows you to see if you like this field or should switch academic tracks
  • Networking through/with your college or university
  • LinkedIn: Prospective employers view your profile, so make sure it is updated and effectively reflects your skills and accomplishments. Make sure you check your messages regularly too.
  • Online applications (type up your info, attach a PDF of your resumé, and send it off): problem is a lot of these websites are not updated, and a lot of applicants may be algorithmically discarded since a computer cannot determine if a human has the qualities necessary to fulfill that position… nevertheless this method helps to cast your net wide
  • Old-school method, but it works: get in your car, drive up to the office with a copy of your resumé. Keep appearing at the office if that is what it takes. This is also the best way to see the work environment and what you’ll be doing, to determine if you really want to work at that location
What it really takes to make it and succeed
  • Passion for your job: it is very rare that someone enjoys every aspect of their duties, but enjoying some tasks is imperative. The little things keep you coming back. For an Industrial Engineer, this passion may be building databases and programming.
  • Join associations: Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers
  • Join the local chapter:  helps you network, monthly industry talks, seminars, field trips.
  • Knowledge is power: Attend seminars, webinars, and workshops to make sure you are up to date with what’s going on with the latest technologies and developments in the industry
  • Be inquisitive: Who is leading the technology currently in the industry? What emerging technologies are there in the industry?
Recommended Resources
Plan B
  • Industrial Engineers acquire very transferable skills
  • They are exposed to programmes which allow them to do electrical design work, biomedical engineering, programming, and software development, among other fields
  • 50% or more Industrial Engineers end up doing consulting work… the two go hand-in-hand because Industrial Engineering like consulting, involves a lot of optimization calculations

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Source: Interview, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale, ONET

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