Industrial Engineers

This article acts as an extensive career guide that elaborates on the career path of industrial engineers, the job outlook, salaries, qualifications required and much more.

Updated by Rakshitha.N on 29th September 2020

What do they do: Industrial engineers plan processes to minimize wastes by utilizing the right labor, machines, equipment, information and material. They are also responsible in enhancing the overall efficiencies of the production system and services with high quality. 

Working environment: Typically, industrial engineers work indoors on a fixed schedule or in a work setting with various conditions such as heat, hazardous, distracting, and uncomfortable situations. Also, they can either work in teams or individually on projects and find solutions. 

How to become: To become an industrial engineer, a bachelor’s degree accredited by ABET is required in majors like industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, supply chain management, manufacturing engineering, industrial engineering technology, operation research or any other related major. 

Salary offered: According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average salary offered to industrial engineers in 2020 is about $69,244 per year and ranges between $63,631 and $75,689. 

Career Outlook: The estimated job growth of industrial engineers is about 8 percent over the period of 2018 to 2028 which is faster than the average growth. This is due to the growing industries seeking new methods to improve their manufacturing systems. 

Similar careers: There are various related careers and career concentration in industrial engineering you can choose based on your interests, roles and responsibilities, education gained, certification and skills acquired. 

Top Industrial Engineering Jobs

Industrial Engineering Manager

Being one of the highest paying jobs in this field, industrial engineering managers earn about $101,331 annually. To land on this job, you must earn a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering, experience, and training programs. It takes about 6 years to meet the requirements. About 5.5% of the total industrial engineers are hired for this profile. 

Senior Industrial Engineer

The minimum required education level is a bachelor’s degree in IE or any related major. The median wage paid is about $88,781 per year and varies based on your qualification. About 12.4% of the total industrial engineers are hired for this job profile.

Industrial Engineer Supervisor

A bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering or mechanical or manufacturing engineering is preferred. The average earnings is about $83,898 and 6% of the total industrial engineers are hired for this profile. 

Quality Managers

A bachelor’s degree in  Industrial Engineering or Civil Engineering or Process Management is the minimum requirement. Over 19 % of the candidates are hired as quality managers with average earnings of $79,000 per year. You can spend about 4 years on education and 7 years to gain experience.

What do Industrial Engineers Do?

Industrial engineers perform various tasks in the industry to improve the systems and to implement smooth functioning. Following lists the primary tasks they do,

  • Design the product cycle from start to end. 

  • Plan the workflow in order to reduce time, money, wastes and energy.

  • Design the process schedules and material flow to maximize the product and services.

  • Analyze the information, production and distribution systems taking place in the production process.

  • Simulate the models based on the specifications to gain the best possible results.

  • Standardize the manufacturing techniques adopted to reduce defects and increase the productivity

  • Conduct financial analysis, salary administration, evaluate job, develop management control systems to increase efficiencies

  • Work with human factors and ergonomics to optimize the overall process and the workplace environment.

  • Focus on quality and quantity standards produced in lesser time and lesser cost. 

  • Manage the supply chain, customer relationship, delivery systems, vendor management required for successful completion of the project cycle.

  • Evaluate the workflows and reduce the wastes detected at each stage to continuously improve the processes.

Industrial engineers also perform in other industries such as construction, healthcare, manufacturing, automation. Their duties also include designing the manufacturing process with the right utilization of computer networks, robots, and materials.

Also, they are concerned with a number of factors that increase the production process such as lead time, labor availability, technology, standardized methods, quality, cost, working conditions and worker safety. 

Working Conditions of Industrial Engineers

The working environment for industrial engineers is usually indoors or the location at which a project is held. A work schedule is pre-set for the completion of assigned work which includes various tasks. The work conditions are as follows,

  • Communication with workers and managers to analyze the situation and collect data.

  • Lesser social interaction but communication to direct the project.

  • Work as a team member and responsible to uplift the team. 

  • Work in heat or air conditioning with safety instruments such as protective eyewear, hard hats, safety shoes, etc. 

  • Exposed to noisy and distracting locations such as the shop floors or workspace where the project is held. 

  • The work schedules may vary based on the set deadlines.

There are more than 284,600 industrial engineers employed in the U.S. and there are additional job opportunities created due to the demand and scope of industrial engineers. Taking a closer look at the fields at which industrial engineers are hired are, 

  • Transportation equipment manufacturing: 18%

  • Computer and electronic product manufacturing: 13%

  • Professional, scientific, and technical services: 12%

  • Machinery manufacturing: 8%

  • Fabricated metal product manufacturing: 5%

For instance, industrial engineers working at a factory with assembling process may be required to look after the shop floor to examine the processes, time and assess the work settings to improve the overall process,

How to Become an Industrial Engineer?

Becoming an industrial engineer has clear cut steps where a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering or related majors is required. Students who want to advance their careers can also choose to pursue a master’s degree which is a specialization. Gaining experience is key, also students can get certified by renowned organizations to increase their earning potential. 

Educational requirements for Industrial Engineers

To enter into this profession, a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering or related majors such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, industrial engineering technology, or general engineering is necessary. 

Prerequisites such as algebra, trigonometry, calculus, designing principles, basic finance, computer science, chemistry programming is necessary.

A bachelor's degree program accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology- ABET includes coursework such as statistics, production systems planning, manufacturing systems design, statistical quality control, work-study, ergonomics, CAD software, engineering economy and concepts related to planning and management. 

A master’s degree takes up to 2 two years which deepens your knowledge on advanced manufacturing systems, warehouse management, supply chain, operation research, financial optimization, and operational computation to name a few.

Licenses and Certifications for Industrial Engineers

A license for industrial engineers isn't required but recommended to earn higher positions in the organizations. License requirements vary from one state to another as they have their own regulations. 

The Professional Engineering (PE) license is advanced licensure earned by engineers to get higher administrative and managerial positions in organizations. Also, you will be responsible for overseeing the projects, providing expert services, guiding other upcoming engineers and others. 

Initially, to earn a PE license, you must gain the Fundamentals of Engineering License- FE by clearing an exam conducted by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). After clearing the exam you will we termed as Engineers in Training (EITs) or Engineer Interns (EIs)

To earn this license you must follow certain things listed below,

  • Complete degree program accredited by the ABET

  • Earn the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE)

  • Gain 4 years of professional work experience in relevant field

  • Clear the Professional Engineering (PE) exam.


Students gain an upper hand by getting certified by the Institute of Industrial Engineers in specialties such as supply chain management, project management, and engineering management. This increases one's marketability and potential for a high paying job. 

Also, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers certifies engineers who complete education in manufacturing and gain a minimum of 4 years of work experience.


Employers may prefer professional experience even for entry-level positions. Experience in fieldwork is more valuable in this profession. It is usually gained by attending engineering summer camps, internships, workshops on-the-job-training or part-time jobs. 

Stand Out Skills for Industrial Engineers

Regardless of the education acquired, there are certain additional skills you must adopt in order to perform better at your workplace. According to the BSL, there are a set of personal qualities you can work on to stand out among the other candidates. 

Problem-solving skills- These skills is important during designing of the manufacturing techniques to produce better systems and increase profits. Hence the problem must be solved by keeping the workers, employers and the company perspectives in mind. 

Critical thinking- Industrial engineers constantly take part in enhancing the overall efficiency through the improvement of processes, hence they must be well aware of the existing problems to use their thinking capacity to come up with better solutions. 

Creativity - Creativity plays a major role in designing manufacturing processes. Also improving the processes at the right stage based on the specification, time, material, and other requires extensive innovative and creative skills.

Strong communication skills - the ability to communicate, listen, and write well helps in conveying the right ideologies to be implemented and represents your clarity of thoughts. Also, helps in guiding the workers through clear instruction and get the work done soon.

Technical skills - being technically sound, knowing diverse concepts, computer knowledge and use of necessary software helps in acknowledging the problem better. Also, technical skills help in coming up with multiple solutions that can be used as an alternative.

Top University Programs for Industrial Engineers

Aspiring students can choose the top university programs to avail the best education in the industrial engineering field. They are listed as follows,

  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta 

  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

  • University of California, Berkeley

  • Cornell University, Ithaca

  • Northwestern University, Evanston

  • Massachusetts Institute Of Technology, Cambridge

  • Purdue University, West Lafayette

  • Stanford University, Stanford 

Industrial Engineers Salary

According to the bureau of labor statistics, in 2020, the average salary offered to industrial engineers is about $69,244 per year and ranges between $63,631 and $75,689 annually. The salary also varies based on your education level, certification, skills and the amount of experience. Breaking down the salary offered,

  • 10th percentile: $58,521

  • 25th percentile: $63,631

  • 50th percentile (median): $69,244

  • 75th percentile: $75,689

  • 90th percentile: $81,556

To elaborate, the top industries with industrial engineers and the median wage paid by them are listed below,

  • Professional, scientific, and technical services: $96,600

  • Computer and electronic product manufacturing: $94,140

  • Transportation equipment manufacturing: $90,250

  • Machinery manufacturing: $83,720

  • Fabricated metal product manufacturing: $76,410

The average salary you will be paid by the amount of experience gained is detailed as follows,

  • Entry-level: $60,389

  • Early Career: $66,161

  • Midcareer: $83,254

  • Experienced: $101,256

Job Growth of Industrial Engineers

The overall job growth of industrial engineers is estimated to increase by 8 percent over the period of 2018 to 2028 which is faster than the average growth of other jobs. Also, it is expected to have rapid growth with 23,800 additional job opportunities being created by the end of 2028. 

The high increase is due to the adaptability of industrial engineers in various industries and fields such as manufacturing industries, consulting and engineering services, healthcare,  research and development firms, and wholesale trade. The increased demand being created is due to their skills to improve any process and increase the value of the product or service by minimizing the costs which are essential for any industry. 

Related Careers for Industrial Engineers

Earning the industrial engineering degree not only allows you to pursue your career as an industrial engineer but also creates career opportunities to work in other similar job profiles such as,

Cost Estimators

Median salary: $80,694 

Cost estimators are professionals who are experts in determining the cost of the project, service or operation. They also evaluate the cost of materials and labor required to produce the desired product to maintain under the budget.

Industrial Engineering Technicians

Median salary: $47,354 

Industrial engineering technicians are responsible for assisting industrial engineers by applying suitable techniques and principles to produce efficient systems with the right use of workers, machines, materials, information, and energy. They also plan workflow, design layouts, study the production and determine the cost incurred. 


Median salary: $64,730

Logisticians are skilled in monitoring the coordination of supply chain functions such as purchasing, transportation, inventory, and warehousing. They manage the life cycle of the product, inventory management and also plan the distribution systems.

Management analysts

Median salary: $76,352

Management analysts also referred to as management consultants perform the roles of analyzing, designing the workflow of the production systems through the application of measurement studies and optimization. This in turn facilitates the allocation of work and increases productivity. 

Health and Safety Engineers

Median salary: $58,648

The Health and safety engineers work on the inspection of machinery, systems, and procedures to ensure the safety measures are taken from the potentially hazardous environment. Usually, the shop floor has contaminants or hazardous zones which is not good for the worker to work without safety instruments, hence the Health and safety engineers develop equipment or devices to protect workers from harm or injuries.