An industrial engineer evaluates workflows and processes, including their production schedules and engineering details to determine how they conduct their manufacturing activities. They also determine how to make their operations more efficient and come up with quality control procedures that would bring down costs and solve issues with production.
Industrial engineer meet with clients, vendors, company management and staff to discuss various aspects about production and manufacturing. You will also be collaborating with customers and company management in coming up with design and production standards. It’s important for industrial engineers to do a careful evaluation of the product requirements. Only after thorough study will you come up with the design of manufacturing and information systems that will best comply with those requirements.
Like other industrial engineers, your job has given you a lot of skills that will make you an asset to various industries. You could be designing systems to improve the processes in a manufacturing facility or help determine what the best way to pay workers in a nonprofit organization is. You could work in an engineering firm to find out how to improve the safety of workers or be employed with a government agency seeking to save on project costs.
You will be providing solutions that would eliminate waste and other inefficiencies in the production chain so you need to be a creative thinker with a critical mind. You need to be a good listener, too, as feedback from clients and those working in the production line are going to serve as valuable clues that would point you to the problem.
Your math skills should be in top form as you will be utilizing the principles of advanced mathematical topics like calculus and trigonometry to solve problems. Since you will be heading a team of industrial engineering technicians and members of the production staff, you need to have good communication skills so you can deliver instructions clearly. You also need to have excellent writing skills since you will be creating documentation that can serve as future reference for other industry professionals.
Why Become An Industrial Engineer
One reason to become an industrial engineer is that it gives you the chance to work in a variety of industries and help them eradicate waste. Whether you are developing the best area to place a machine in the factory or determining what kinds of jobs are suited for special population groups such as the handicapped, you are playing a very important role in improving modern-day production processes. The satisfaction that can be felt in knowing that you are helping organizations enhance their operations, save on costs and improve the conditions of their workers is unparalleled.
On the more practical side of things, the lucrative pay is also another reason to become an industrial engineer. It is possible to earn a six-figure salary if you make this a lifetime career.
Industrial Engineer Work Environment
Industrial engineers worked in various manufacturing industries, such as those engaged in aerospace product and parts manufacturing, machinery manufacturing and motor vehicle parts manufacturing. Some also work in architectural, engineering and related services industries. Although they work in the office, they also have to go to the companies whose processes they are seeking to make better. Thus, if they need to watch how assembly workers of an aerospace firm carry out their responsibilities, they will be observing them in action in the production line. They return to their office and run the data and other observations they have gathered in their computers, analyze them and come up with possible solutions. Work hours are typically fulltime.
Industrial Engineer Salary
The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of industrial engineers is $83,390. This is slightly higher than the $81,320 paid to health and safety engineers that are categorized together with industrial engineers.
In 2012, the agency reported that the lowest paid industrial engineers received less than $51,180 while the highest paid earned over $118,300. That year, those working in aerospace product and parts manufacturing received the highest median annual wage at $84,600. They were followed by those employed in the management of companies and enterprises who got $82,290 and then by those working for architectural, engineering and related services who were paid $81,240. Those working in the machinery manufacturing and motor vehicle parts manufacturing also got high wages.
Industrial Engineer Career Outlook
The job outlook of industrial engineers is expected to rise five percent in the decade covering 2012 to 2022, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This rate is slower than the average for all job types. The demand will come from the fact that companies are looking for ways to make their processes more efficient and less expensive. Also, the broad range of industries in which they can be employed in will also contribute to the need. Since they don’t do very specialized work like what other engineers do, industrial engineers can work not only in manufacturing companies but in hospitals, research and development companies and nonprofit organizations as well.
Industrial Engineer Degree
The entry point for this profession is a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering or related fields. It is possible to still become an industrial engineer with a bachelor’s degree in general engineering, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering or industrial engineering technology. Students learn through classroom lectures and laboratory practice in these degree programs. In order to provide students with practical experience on the job, colleges and universities provide internships or cooperative education programs.
There are degree programs in industrial engineering that allow students to get a bachelor’s and master’s degree after five years. A master’s degree would enable an industrial engineer to teach at the college or university level or even venture into research and development. In some of these cooperative education programs, students can fund a portion of their education by combining studies with work experience in the field.
Industrial engineers are encouraged to get licensed especially if they want to offer their services to the public. Requirements for licensure include graduation from an ABET-accredited engineering program, passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam after obtaining the degree, getting relevant work experience and getting a passing score on the Professional Engineering exam. An industrial engineer gets the professional engineer designation after passing the last test.