Industrial Engineer Career Profile

Industrial engineers are engaged in maximizing production using available resources: machines, people and materials.

Basic Tasks

An industrial engineer evaluates designs or uses mathematic models to improve services. Industrial engineers also create capacity analysis models, determine the price for products, analyze the process of production and delivery, and measure performance of machines and people. They use spreadsheets to collect and analyze data and many job postings ask that industrial engineers possess advanced Excel skills.

Industrial engineers are also expected to develop project management skills, including assigning milestones and determining deadlines. During the course of the day an industrial engineer will also meet with different people in the company and conduct interviews and negotiate for the changes that the engineer believes will improve production. It is important that the engineer has good communication skills and that the engineer is able to work with diverse team members, possibly with many different facilities and sometimes, depending on the size of their employer, their work may take them to facilities overseas.

The nationwide average salary for industrial engineers is $68,000 per year and the highest paid ten percent in this field achieve an annual salary of $100,000. If you have more education, such as a master's or a PhD, your initial salary can be quite higher, with a master's degree earning an additional $10,000 per year, and a PhD earning an additional $20,000 per year than an industrial engineer with an undergraduate degree.

Hours and Work Schedule

Most industrial engineers work full-time, Monday through Friday. Some overtime is required if a deadline is approaching or if a problem is discovered in the delivery of services or products. They may also be expected to travel between facilities though much of their work can be performed in an office environment.

Different Types of Industrial Engineer Jobs

When starting out in industrial engineering, you will work on projects to improve the output of the company, gather data, create models and spreadsheets, write reports and present findings. This work will usually be completed under the supervision of an experienced industrial engineer or other manager.

With more experience, industrial engineers will become project managers. A project manager plans and executes a project with the assistance of a team of professionals, as well as the crew or workforce that is contributing to a project. As a project manager, you determine the scope of a project, which is the total of the products and services delivered. The industrial engineer also determines the total cost and time required to complete the project. Project managers can be found in the construction, manufacturing and software industries. In addition to the undergraduate degree that you need to become a professional industrial engineer, you can complete certification for the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation.

Advancement

Industrial engineers provide a service that improves management, so many industrial engineers will advance into management careers within organizations. There are also opportunities as consultants and specialists in organization and management of people and resources.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for industrial engineers are supposed to increase faster than average because companies will be looking for any means to improve efficiency, the principal goal of an industrial engineer.