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How to Become an Industrial Engineer

If you have an interest in engineering, are technologically and mechanically inclined, and have exceptional problem-solving skills, an industrial engineer is a great career choice for you.

Industrial engineers design systems that maximize productivity, reduce waste, and are cost-efficient. They typically analyze operations to develop processes that will increase efficiency and ensure products meet industry quality standards. Industrial engineers do cost analysis to estimate production costs and design systems according to management guidelines and objectives. 

Industrial engineers must have in-depth knowledge of production machinery, processes, and industry standards. Excellent communication and presentation skills are needed, as are the ability to troubleshoot effectively and a keen eye for detail. Proficiency with relevant computer software and AutoCAD is essential to this role. As an industrial engineer, you might work in a variety of industries, including manufacturing and health care where you will review production schedules, design specifications, workflows, and other information to understand and adjust company processes to make them more efficient.

Sample job description

Industrial engineers are responsible for designing and implementing processes that efficiently make products or provide services while eliminating wastefulness and reducing costs in the production process. They need to have a solid understanding of the company processes to make them more efficient. To do this, an industrial engineer must possess exceptional interpersonal communication skills, solid engineering skills, and be an analytical thinker. [Your Company Name] is searching for an industrial engineer to take our business to new levels. The ideal candidate will have proven experience designing systems that maximize productivity, reduce wastefulness, increase cost efficiency, and ensure high product quality.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Review production schedules, specifications, orders, and related information to learn about manufacturing methods, procedures, and activities
  • Estimate production costs and the effects of product design changes on expenditures
  • Recommend cost-saving measures
  • Use drafting tools and computer-assisted design software to create the layout of equipment, materials, and workspace to illustrate maximum efficiency
  • Coordinate and implement quality control objectives, activities or procedures to resolve production problems, maximize product reliability, or minimize costs
  • Communicate with management and stakeholders to develop production and design standards 

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering or a related field. Some employers prefer that candidates have a master’s degree or PhD for specific jobs or career advancement.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Strong technical writing ability
  • Expertise in working with engineering and computer-assisted design software
  • Demonstrated skill in solving complex technical problems
  • Advanced knowledge of production machinery and job-related service delivery equipment and processes
  • High-level talent in computer technology and systems operations

Preferred qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering or related field
  • 3+ years experience as an industrial engineer
  • Be a self-starter who needs minimal management
  • Strong written communication skills

Typical work environment

Industrial engineers typically work either in offices or in factory settings. They may be required to wear protective attire, including goggles and hard hats when at an on-site location. Most work full time during business hours but can work overtime to meet deadlines.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for an industrial engineer are from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, some industrial engineers may work non-traditional hours, depending on the needs of their company.

Available certifications

Manufacturing engineers work in a variety of manufacturing industries, and many institutions offer different certifications to help them develop their skills and expand their knowledge. Check out the following: 

  • Certified Production Technician(CPT). The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council offers this certification for professionals who demonstrate proficiency in the foundational core competencies of advanced manufacturing production. You can earn certification by completing one or more of the 5 assessments, or you can gain full certification by passing all 5 assessments. Certification must be renewed every 5 years.
  • Certified Oil Monitoring Analyst II (OMA II). This credential is designed for professional engineers, tribologists, maintenance supervisors, and onsite/commercial lab managers in supervisory positions who are working in the oil industry. Administered by the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers, the exam covers lubricant selection, system configuration, sampling and analytical methods, sampling intervals, suppliers, and more. OMA II certification is earned by scoring 70% or higher on the exam. Certification is valid for three years, after which individuals must recertify to maintain their OMA II status.

Career path

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering or a related field. Some employers prefer that candidates have a master’s degree or PhD for certain jobs. Industrial engineers can advance to positions such as quality engineer or facilities planner. Since industrial engineering is closely linked to management duties like improving efficiency and evaluating processes, many industrial engineers advance into management roles.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 17-2112.03

2020 Employment292,000
Projected Employment in 2030332,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 14% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift40,000 increase

According to the industry website Interesting Engineering, one trend that will affect all engineering sectors in the near future, including Industrial Engineering, is the increasing use of the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart devices are impacting the metrics by which factories’ productivity is measured. Another growing trend in engineering is the use of renewable energy. An estimated 19 percent of power in the U.S. will come from renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydropower in 2020, and renewable energy technology is expected to become even more popular. This trend should lead to new battery technology as well as advances in power grid management.