How to Become a Productivity Engineer

How to Become a Productivity Engineer: Career Guide

Although there are many possible paths for becoming a productivity engineer, here is a basic outline for what it takes to get into this field:


1. Pursue advanced-level coursework in Math and Physics in High School

2. Make sure you have the right personal traits and professional interests for this work

3. Pursue an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering

4. As a student, get work experience via internships and summer employment

5. Get an ‘engineer-in-training’ job after graduation

6. Earn the Professional Engineering designation

7. Advance your career as you gain experience


If you want to become a productivity engineer, you technically just need to follow the above steps and apply for jobs. 


However, there is so much to consider when choosing a career; the traits you’ll need to find fulfillment in your work; the duties you’d perform; the amount you could earn; the possibilities for career advancement, and many other elements. 


Below, we’ve gone into some detail regarding what earning a living as a productivity engineer entails, as well as outlined what you’ll need to do to become one.



What Education Will I Need?

Employers typically prefer to hire candidates for productivity engineering jobs that have a degree in a relevant field, such as Industrial Engineering, or a similar field. A bachelor’s degree is often sufficient, but some employers may require a master’s degree, particularly for specialized roles, or teaching positions.




What is a Productivity Engineer?

Productivity engineers (also known as productivity optimization & improvement engineers) are responsible for utilizing various industrial engineering and productivity principles and techniques to develop and implement productivity optimizations for an organization. They work to identify and eliminate waste throughout a client or employer’s processes, while ensuring accuracy and reliability.



What Do Productivity Engineers Do?

Although their duties can vary from job to job, productivity engineers are generally responsible for the following:


• Using various problem solving techniques, teamwork building strategies, process control and continuous process improvement tools to identify forms of waste in a client’s processes

• Analyzing fulfillment and manufacturing site methods and operations

• Developing improvement plans, and recommending and/or implementing change

• Performing analysis and developing return-on-investment justifications for capital expenditures

• Evaluating equipment layouts to ensure proper building layout mechanization

• Conducting presentations and informational meetings for all levels of fulfillment and manufacturing population regarding productivity and improvement changes or standards

• Asking for, accepting and using feedback for self and team to drive business improvements



Will I Need Work Experience to Become a Productivity Engineer?

Most engineer-in-training roles don’t require any work experience above what you gain as part of your degree-based internship or co-op work placement. Mid and senior-level engineering roles however, typically require 3-5 years of experience working in lower level roles with progressive amounts of responsibility. 


Success Tip: Working in manufacturing or product development during your summers is a great way to gain even more experience above an internship/co-op work opportunity. 



Will I Need to Be Licensed/Certified?

Most employers will require that you're licensed as a Professional Engineer before they will let you to advance to roles of greater responsibility. You won’t however, need the Professional Engineer designation to be hired on as an engineer-in-training, which is the standard entry-level engineering job.


Please Note: You will need to be licensed as a Professional Engineer (“PE” - United States; “P.Eng.” - Canada) in order to exercise direct control of a public project and to supervise engineering technicians and other engineers. You will also need to have the Professional Engineer designation in order to sell your own engineering services publicly.



How Do I Become Licensed as a Professional Engineer?

Although licensing requirements vary by region, the process typically involves completion of an accredited engineering degree, working of a set number of hours under the supervision of a licensed engineer, and passing an exam (or series of exams).



How Can I Prepare for This Career in High School?

Productivity engineers need a deep understanding of math and science. Excelling in these fields while you’re a high school student is a great way to build a foundation for booming a manufacturing engineer at an early age, and will help you qualify for relevant university degree programs.


Success Tip: Go out of your way to take up advanced science and math coursework in areas such as physics, trigonometry and calculus during your high school years.



Should I Become a Productivity Engineer? 

You might find much fulfillment in this occupation if you have the following personal traits and professional interests/tolerances.


• You have a natural aptitude in math and physics

• You’re the kind of person who studies and applies engineering principles in your spare time

• You have a keen interest in the optimization of processes and systems 

• You’re interested in how the total costs to produce products affects company decisions

• You’re willing to learn to live by your employers’ values and codes of conduct

• You’re willing to stay ahead of the curve and seek out opportunities to learn new technologies

• You're willing to travel, and possibly permanently relocate, for a job that makes proper use of your skills

• You enjoy synthesizing information to develop flexible and integrated manufacturing systems and procedures

• You enjoy using equipment and instruments to perform tasks requiring precision

• You are willing to take responsibility for projects and supervise the work of others



What is the Salary of a Productivity Engineer?

Salary in the United States: Productivity Engineers are part of the occupational group “Industrial Engineers”. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in this field earn a median salary of $83,470 per year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $53,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $126,920.


Salary in Alberta: According to the 2015 wage and salary survey (Government of Alberta), Albertans working as part of the “Industrial and Manufacturing Engineers” occupational group (which includes “Productivity Engineers”) earn an average wage of between $37.69 to $84.23 per hour, with an overall average wage of $53.99 per hour and average salary of $111,808 per year.


Please Note: The salary level you will earn as a productivity engineer will vary, based on the following factors:


• Your level of education, experience and certification

• The level of responsibility involved in your job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The industry in which you work

• Many other factors



Who Creates Jobs for Productivity Engineers?

The most common employers of productivity engineers include manufacturing, processing and distribution companies, as well as consulting firms. Since the basic principles of productivity engineering apply to all industries, work for these optimization improvement professionals can be found in virtually any sector of industry, including the production/distribution of.


• Machinery and equipment

• Consumer electronics

• Home appliances

• Home fixtures (such as furniture, windows)

• Oil, gas and mining products

• Leisure and sports equipment 

• Food and beverages

• Vehicles of all types

• Clothing and textiles

• Environmental and recycled products

• Pharmaceutical products 


Please Note: Productivity engineers can also work in other settings, such as service delivery settings (such as hospitals) and in colleges/universities).



Jobs for Productivity Engineers

Our job board below has "Productivity (Improvement) Engineer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. 

What’s the Typical Work Environment Like?

Working Hours: Many productivity engineers work normal business hours, although sometimes hours may need to be altered or extended in order to meet deadlines, or observe production at a client’s facility. Extended periods of travel may also be required, depending on the location of the project.


Work Setting: Depending on the tasks they’re working on, productivity engineers work both in offices and on the production floor. For example, they may watch workers assembling parts in a factory, or observe staff carrying out their distribution tasks in a warehouse. When performing technical work, such as analyzing data and preparing specifications, productivity engineers typically work in an office at a computer.


Work Environment: Productivity engineers often serve as the bridge between the technical and business sides of an organization. Because of this role, they often work with other professionals, including operations managers, production managers, and other stakeholders. Their work can be quite stressful, such as when dealing with resistance to their ideas/proposals, or when facing tight deadlines. 



What are Careers Similar to “Productivity Engineer”?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “Productivity Engineer”:


Business Analyst

• Industrial Engineer

• Manufacturing Engineer

• Manufacturing Executive

• Operations Analyst

• Process Engineer

• Supply Chain and Logistics Manager

• Technical Sales Engineer

• Time Study Engineer



What Scholarships Are There for Becoming a Productivity Engineer? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study in our system that are relevant to becoming a Productivity Engineer. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Any Field of Study Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: Apply for any and all scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a productivity engineer:


• Occupational Profile: “Industrial Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved March 14, 2017.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Industrial Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 14, 2017.


Please Note: Some of the information used for this career guide was obtained from actual job postings, which due to their brief online presence are not listed here as references. 



Majors in Our Database Relevant for Becoming a Productivity Engineer

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a productivity engineer. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!

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