How to Become a Materials Handling Engineer

Career Path Guide

Although there are other paths you can take, here is a basic outline for what it takes to become a materials handling engineer:


1. Excel at math, computer science, chemistry and physics in high school

2. Make sure you have the right personal attributes for this work

3. Pursue an industrial or mechanical engineering degree

4. Get relevant work experience as a student via internship and co-op opportunities 

5. Get an entry-level materials handling engineering job after graduation

6. Earn the ‘Professional Engineer’ designation once you’ve met the requirements


Reading on below will give you a good idea of what you'll need to begin a career as a materials handling engineer in the United States or Canada. We've also included helpful occupational information, such as what you’d be doing, what you could earn, and current job postings.



What Education Will I Need?

For materials handling engineering jobs, employers typically prefer to hire candidates that have a bachelor’s degree in a Mechanical Engineering, or a related field. For research or teaching positions, you will require a graduate or post-graduate degree. 





What is a Materials Handling Engineer?

Materials handling engineers are mechanical or industrial engineers that are responsible for the design and development of automated material handling and manufacturing systems.


They invent, design, and implement engineering solutions to complex material flow/transformation and human/machine efficiency problems throughout an organization's supply chain.


They also have the responsibility of coordinating internal and external resources, equipment, and designs to ensure that the project functional specifications are being met within the defined project budget.



What Are Their Job Duties?

Although their duties can vary, materials handling engineers are typically responsible for the following: 


• Recording time and expenses related to the proposal generation phase of projects

• Supports the development of proposal documents and develops engineering bill of materials for proposal documentation

• Developing project cost summary for mechanical equipment and installation

• Assisting in the development of the project execution schedule

• Developing final equipment lists from approval drawings

• Issuing purchase orders for electrical equipment, engineering, and installation labor

• Reviewing and approving vendor invoices

• Reviews vendor installation drawings and installation document packages for correctness

• Coordinating delivery of equipment from vendors to customers

• On site supervision during installation and debugging phases of projects

• Developing as-built drawings and documentation package

• Developing relevant spare-parts lists, maintenance manuals, and operator training manuals



How Can I Prepare as a High School Student?

If you’re interested in becoming a materials handling engineer, you should take high school courses in mathematics, such as algebra, trigonometry, and calculus; computer science; and sciences such as chemistry and physics.


Excelling in these areas will give you a good intellectual foundation for this career, and help you qualify for industrial/mechanical engineering degree programs.



What Experience Will I Need to Become a Materials Handling Engineer?

Most entry-level materials handling engineering jobs don’t require any work experience above what you gain as part of an internship while completing your engineering degree.


Mid and senior-level roles often require 3-5 years of experience working in lower level roles, with progressive amounts of responsibility in those roles, as well as Professional Engineer certification.


Please Note: Some employers will accept master's degree in place of relevant work experience.



What Licensure/Certification Will I Need?

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 other engineers and engineering technicians.


You will also need to have the PE/P.Eng. designation in order to sell your own engineering services publicly.


You won't need to have the Professional Engineer designation to be hired on as an engineer-in-training, which involves working under the supervision of a licensed engineer.



How to Become Licensed

Licensing requirements typically involve completion of an engineering degree, completion of a set number of supervised working hours, and passing an exam.


However, these requirements can vary, so please contact your provincial/territorial/state engineering association for full details on becoming licensed





Should I Become a Materials Handling Engineer?

No matter what stage of your career development you’re at, you should have the following attributes if you hope to one day work in this field:


• You're proficient and interested in math and physics

• You can think in inventive, abstract terms

• You enjoy solving complex problems 

• You have a natural mechanical inclination 

• You can work effectively with a variety of project stakeholders

• You enjoy leading others toward meeting a common goal

• You’re interested in a career that may involve travel

• You enjoy visualizing the effects of operational change

• You enjoy doing work that involves making systems and machinery more efficient



How Much Do Materials Handling Engineers Earn?

The salary level you could earn as a materials handling engineer can vary, typically depending 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


Unfortunately there are no salary statistics available from reliable sources for the specific career field, “Materials Handling Engineer”. We can however, get a good idea of what you could earn by looking at the salary levels of workers in closely related occupations. 


Materials Handling Engineer Salaries in Alberta: “Materials Handling Engineers” belong to both the Mechanical Engineers and Industrial Engineers occupational groups. According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the overall average salary of Albertans working in the “Mechanical Engineers group” is $97,209, and that of workers in the “Industrial Engineers” group is $92,324 per year.


Salaries - United States: Materials handling engineers belong to both the Mechanical Engineers and Industrial Engineers occupational groups. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, those working in the former group earn a median salary of $87,370 per year, while those in the latter earn a median salary of $87,070.



Who Creates Jobs for Materials Handling Engineers?

Materials handling engineers are typically employed by companies and organizations involved in making or moving large quantities of goods, which may include:


• Retail, commercial, industrial and institutional goods distributors

• Manufacturing and industrial plants

• Transportation companies

• Government agencies (all levels of government)

• Non-profit organizations



Current Job Postings

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



What are Careers Similar to This One?

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 “materials handling engineer”:


• Cost Estimator

• Construction Manager

• Industrial Engineer

• Manufacturing Engineer

• Materials Engineer

• Mechanical Engineer

• Project Manager



What Scholarships Are There for Aspiring Materials Handling Engineers? 

The “Relevant University Majors” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a materials handling engineer. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Any Field of Study Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any 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 work in this profession:


• Occupational Profile: “Industrial Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved March 5, 2020.

• Occupational Profile: “Mechanical Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved March 5, 2020.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Industrial Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 5, 2020.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Mechanical Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 5, 2020.


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 this Career

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


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