Careers with an Industrial Engineering Degree

The ultimate purpose of an industrial engineering degree is to enable you to become professionally competent as an industrial engineer. But what does that mean? And is that all you can do with this degree?



Careers in Industrial Engineering

If you choose to pursue a career in industrial engineering, you will be in high demand in a variety of industries. This is due to the technical expertise, hands-on problem solving skills and keen understanding of industrial efficiency issues you will posses as a graduate.


You could end up working in a variety of industries, for a wide variety of employers…virtually any kind actually. From mining companies, to car manufacturers, to government agencies, to hospitals, to food manufacturing facilities, and almost everyone in between. After all, almost every kind of organization is concerned with safety and productivity, while optimizing for efficiency with their time and money.


Other Career Fields

As an industrial engineering graduate, you aren’t limited to these options however; you can also choose to pursue careers in research, education, training, and consultation.


If you want, you can even apply the transferrable skills you’ll learn to a career that isn’t related to your degree at all! Want to become an accountant? Well, you will likely have to take some accounting courses after your degree in industrial engineering, but skills such organization, handling large cerebral workloads, and working with numbers will give you a great head start into that career.



Interested in continuing on with your education, maybe pursuing a Master’s or Doctorate? It so happens that a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering can pave the way for such a degree. It also serves as an excellent foundation for a graduate or professional degree in other areas, such as law.


If you’d like to know more about what you can do with this degree, read on below. This guide contains detailed occupational information on career paths relevant to this degree. Included are job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other information related to these careers.





What Does an Industrial Engineering Degree Program Teach You?

Through a combination of coursework and hands-on learning, an industrial engineering program enables you to gain an understanding of engineering fundamentals, analysis and design.


More specifically, these programs provide you with a general understanding of mechanical, structural, chemical and electrical engineering theories, methods and techniques.


In addition to the basics of engineering fundamentals, you are taught elements of social science, statistics and project management included in many industrial engineering programs.


This broad spectrum of subjects helps you gain a truly comprehensive understanding of all of the factors involved in finding the optimal fit between people, machines, materials and information technology, thus teaching you how to design the fastest, safest, most efficient, and most cost-effective manufacturing activities possible. 



Careers Directly Relevant to this Degree

The knowledge and skills you can gain by studying industrial engineering at the university level can be applied to a variety of careers that are highly relevant to the field, including:


• Acoustical Engineer

• Agricultural Engineer

• Business Analyst

• Chemical Engineer

• Consumer Advocate

• Cost Estimator

• Distribution Planning Engineer

• Drafting Technician

• Energy Auditor

• Energy Efficiency Engineer

• Entrepreneur

• Ergonomist

• Facilities Engineer

• Food Process Engineer

• Furniture Designer

• Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Engineer

• Hydro Engineer

• Industrial Designer

• Industrial Engineer

• Information Technology (IT) Service Manager

• Intellectual Property Manager

• International Aid Worker

• Logistics Assistant

• Maintenance Engineer

• Maintenance Manager

• Manufacturing Engineer

• Materials Engineer

• Materials Handling Engineer

• Materials Planner

• Operations Analyst

• Packaging Engineer

• Patent Agent

• Plant Engineer

• Plastics Engineer

• Process Engineer

• Product Development Engineer

• Production Engineer

• Productivity Engineer

• Project Consultant

• Project Engineer

• Project Manager

• Quality Control Specialist

• Reliability Engineer

• Research Engineer

• Safety Coordinator

• Safety Engineer

• Sales Representative

• Software Quality Assurance Engineer

• Supply Chain and Logistics Manager

• Supply Chain Consultant

• Supply Quality Improvement Engineer

• Technical Sales Engineer

• Telecommunications Engineer

• Test Technician

• Time Study Engineer

• University Professor

• Validation Engineer


Please Note: Some of the above listed careers require additional education, training and/or experience. Click on careers that are of interest to you to find out more about the qualifications you’ll need.



Who Employs Graduates?

Below is a list of the types of companies and organizations that commonly hire industrial engineers (not an exhaustive list):


• Telecommunications companies

• Automobile manufacturers

• Banks and financial institutions

• Health care service providers

• Aircraft manufacturers

• Commercial airlines

• Oil and gas producers

• Mining companies

• Forestry companies

• Food and beverage product manufacturers

• Federal, provincial/state and municipal government agencies

• Construction companies

• Industrial engineering consulting firms



Possible Work Settings Within the Field

If you choose to pursue a career in the field of industrial engineering upon graduation, you could end up performing a wide variety of tasks, in many possible work settings. For example, you could end up…


• Discovering a new way to assemble a product that will prevent injuries to workers

• Helping to design a new, or re-design an old manufacturing facility

• Designing and performing motion and time studies

• Developing prototype units for the cellular phone car adapter market

• Determining the placement of equipment and offices in order to maximize production efficiency

• Designing the admissions procedures and systems of a hospital

• Developing a supplier quality assurance program

• Developing and launching a complete materials handling system

• Developing the conceptual layout of a dockyard and ship repair facility

• Teaching industrial engineering courses

• Establishing methods of paying employees for the type and amount of work they do

• Determining how much work each machine or employee must produce to meet production quotas





Program Coursework Examples

Is an industrial engineering career in your future? You’ll have to make it through school first! And the only way to do that is to have an interest in the coursework.


The following is a list of courses you may study as an industrial engineering student, and is only meant to provide examples of possible course titles. If these titles spark some interest, you’re on your way to a career in this field…


• Advanced Calculus

• Algebraic Analysis

• Biomechanics

• Chemistry

• Company Operations

• Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing

• Computer Programming

• Database Software Design

• Decision Analysis

• Differential Equations

• Economics

• Electrical Circuits

• Engineering Law

• Ergonomics and Safety

• Facilities Design

• Fluid Mechanics

• Manufacturing Processes

• Materials Science

• Mechanical Design

• Operations Research

• Physics

• Probability and Statistics

• Production Planning and Scheduling

• Project Management

• Psychology

• Quality Control and Reliability

• Queuing Theory

• Statics and Dynamics

• Stochastic Processes

• Strengths of Materials

• System Simulation and Modeling

• Thermodynamics

• Work Study (how humans work)



Gaining Career Experience as a Student

Pursuing an internship (also known as a field experience, practicum or co-op opportunity) in a career field related to your industrial engineering degree is a great way to gain relevant work experience while you’re still a student.


If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in this field, do your best to land one of these opportunities. They have many benefits, including:


Meeting people who share the same professional interests

Meeting others who share that same professional interests and passions can be highly beneficial for you. You can see them operate on daily basis, and you get a chance to “pick their brain” so to speak; you can ask them what it is they like about what they do, you can learn how they got where they, and you can get idea of the dynamics of the environment they work in.


Gaining valuable career experience

If your school has any role in facilitating the opportunity or introducing you to the internship opportunity, which they likely will, odds are the employer has been carefully screened and will only provide you with valuable on-the-job experience.


Internships, co-ops and other forms of work experience are meant to add practice to the theory you have been learning, so teaming up with an employer that meets your school’s standards is a great way to ensure that you are part of a great work and learning experience.


Getting your foot in the door with an employer

A great way to make the transition from student to employee is to be offered a position with the same organization you worked for as an intern or co-op student! If you’ve done quality work and made a good impression, chances are that organization will want to retain you once you’ve graduated.



How to Find an Industrial Engineering Internship

Your college or university may or may not require you to participate in an internship or other form of work experience program as part of your industrial engineering degree. If it is an academic requirement, you will likely have the opportunity arranged for you, as many schools work directly with employers to arrange work experience opportunities.


If it is not a requirement, speak with your professors, Engineering program staff as well as your school’s career counselors to help you find a suitable opportunity.



Typical Graduate Salary

The salary level you could earn as a graduate of an industrial engineering program can vary quite a bit, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education (bachelor’s, graduate etc.)

• Whether or not you end up working as an industrial engineer

• If you achieve a professional designation (such as PE)

• The amount of work experience you’ve accumulated

• The size and type of your employer

• The industry in which you find work

• The region in which you find work


That’s a lot of factors that can influence your earnings. To make it easier to determine what you could earn, let’s just look at the average salary level of an industrial engineer.


Typical Salary Alberta: According to the Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Industrial Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $83,149 per year.


Typical Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Industrial Engineers occupational group is $80,890 per year.






Relevant Scholarships

If you’re an industrial engineering student looking for help in paying for school, then you’re in luck; our scholarships database has Canadian and American scholarships that are specific to industrial engineering, as well as scholarships that are open to any field of study!


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.



Professional and Student Associations

To find out more about careers directly related to this degree, consult the following student and professional and student association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have opportunities for student membership, as well as job placement and mentoring opportunities.



Canadian Academy of Engineering

Canadian Federation of Engineering Students

Canadian Society of Professional Engineers

Institute of Industrial Engineers


United States

Institute of Industrial Engineers

National Society of Professional Engineers

Society of Manufacturing Engineers



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