How to Become an Industrial Engineer


Career Path Guide

If you’re technically minded, have skills in math and science, and you have a keen interest in efficiency, then a career as an industrial engineer might just be great for you!


Good pay, technical challenge, wide job prospects, the chance to travel, different areas of specialty to choose from…this career can do no wrong.


Below, we’ll take a good look at what working as an industrial engineer is all about, including an overview of what industrial engineers are, what they do, and how you can become one.



What is an Industrial Engineer?

Industrial engineers are versatile professionals that find ways to eliminate wastefulness in an organization’s production processes.



Education Needed to Become an Industrial Engineer

To become an industrial engineer, you'll likely need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, with a major in industrial, manufacturing, mechanical or production engineering. Some employers however, may require that you have a master’s degree in one of these areas, although it is relatively uncommon. 





General Job Description

Industrial engineers are responsible for investigating and reviewing the utilization of an organization’s resources, including personnel, facilities, equipment and materials, capital, and current operational processes and established practices.


Their aim is to recommend improvement in the effectiveness, efficiency or safety of operations in a variety of commercial, industrial and production environments. In order to accomplish their goals, industrial engineers may be involved with:


• Planning how systems will work

• Measuring work performance

• Establishing work standards and specifications

• Establishing quality standards

• Analyzing project costs and benefits

• Enhancing systems operations

• Evaluating proposed facility sites

• Determining the best way to pay workers

• Evaluating how well people do their jobs



General Job Duties Involved in This Profession

The job duties of an industrial engineer can vary from one job to the next, and one area of specialty to the next. In general however, they may responsible for performing the following duties:


• Reviewing production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information

• Gathering production information by observing staff in the workplace

• Planning and designing systems to increase productivity

• Preparing and presenting reports and recommendations

• Working closely with management and other staff

• Evaluating proposed sites for facilities

• Designing new buildings or redesign existing ones

• Using software to analyze information about existing systems and simulate new ones

• Planning systems to check the quality of finished products

• Setting budget limits



Areas of Specialty for Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineering is a broad field, with many separate areas of focus. Professionals in this field may choose to specialize in any of the areas in which they operate. For example, an industrial engineer may specialize in facility layout and design, production planning, logistics systems design, ergonomics, manufacturing, project management or operations research.



Licensing Needed for this Career

Depending on what your responsibilities on the job will be, some employers may require that you are designated as a Professional Engineer (P. Eng.) in the province, state or territory in which you work. Other employers may not require such certification.


Success Tip: If licensure is not required, it is still an invaluable asset to have.



Skills Needed to be Effective

To succeed as an industrial engineer, you’ll need to have a certain knowledge base and skill set that will apply to any area of specialty you choose within this field. These skills include:


• Able to identify strengths and weaknesses of solutions, conclusions, or approaches to the problems

• Familiarity with relevant software

• A demonstrated ability to meet project schedules and budgets

• An excellent grasp of production principles, in manufacturing and/or business administration

• An excellent grasp of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in mathematics

• Able to deal with several issues at once, from workers’ safety to quality assurance

• Aptitude for analyzing, designing and implementing complex solutions

• Knowledge of CAD is often an asset





Typical Salary Level of Industrial Engineers

The salary level you could earn as an industrial engineer can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education

• Your level of experience

• The specific responsibilities of your job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• Many other factors


Industrial Engineer Salary Canada: According to the Alberta Learning Information Service, the average salary level of workers in the "Industrial & Manufacturing Engineers" occupational group is $81,018 per year. Meanwhile, in British Columbia, WorkBC states that those in the same occupational group earn an annual provincial median salary of $69,909. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (October 14, 2019).


Salary - United Kingdom: According to the National Careers Service, salaries for manufacturing systems engineers in the United Kingdom are commonly between £22,000 and £40,000 per year.


Salary in the 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 $87,040 per year.



Working Conditions

Hours: Many industrial 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.


Setting: Depending on their tasks, industrial engineers work both in offices and in the very settings they are trying to improve. For example, they may watch workers assembling parts in a factory, or observe staff carrying out their tasks in a hospital. When performing technical work, such as analyzing data and preparing specifications, industrial engineers typically work in an office at a computer.


Work Environment: Industrial 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. 



Who Employs Industrial Engineers?

Industrial engineers can apply their skill set in virtually any type of organization, which makes their job prospects quite wide in scope. They often work for the following types of organizations:


• Automobile companies

• Engineering and manufacturing consulting firms

• Financial institutions

• Government agencies (all levels)

• Health care institutions

• Manufacturers (of all products)

• Transportation and logistics companies

• Insurance companies

• Department and retail stores

• Colleges and universities

• Private and public research organizations



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has "industrial engineer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia:




Career Advancement Possibilities

As an industrial engineer first entering the profession, you would likely work under the supervision of experienced engineers. As you gain knowledge and experience, you would move on to projects with more responsibility, and greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions. You could also begin to supervise the work of junior engineers and engineering technicians.


Once you’ve gained a few years worth of experience, you may have the opportunity to move into a more specialized role. For example, you could become a technical specialist, such as a ‘quality engineer’ or ‘facility planner’. Rather than becoming a technical specialist, or after you’ve tried your hand at a specialist role, you could move into a management position, such as ‘Head Engineer’, or ‘Project Manager’, or even open your own consulting firm.



Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to "industrial engineer", as they may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or the same type of responsibilities.



Energy Efficiency Engineer

Furniture Designer

Industrial Designer

Mechanical Engineer

Operations Manager



References for this Career Guide

To find out more about what an industrial engineer does, what qualifications you’ll need, how much you could earn, and other details of this career, please consult the following resources:


Occupations in Alberta:Industrial Engineer.” (April 10, 2014). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 14, 2019.

Explore Careers:Industrial and manufacturing engineers (NOC 2141).” (January 24, 2018). WorkBC website - Province of British Columbia . Retrieved October 14, 2019.

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Architecture and Engineering:Industrial Engineers.” (September 4, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 14, 2019.

Explore Careers:Manufacturing Systems Engineer.” (n.d.). National Careers Service website. Retrieved October 14, 2019.




Scholarships for Becoming an Industrial Engineer

Scholarships that are relevant to becoming an industrial engineer are all of those that are found on the following pages:


Civil Engineering Scholarships

Industrial Engineering Scholarships

Mechanical Engineering Scholarships



Applicable Majors for Becoming an Industrial Engineer

The university majors below are applicable to a career as an industrial engineer, as they can teach you relevant skills and competencies. Click on the majors to find out what other careers are applicable to them!


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