Industrial Engineers


Employment Prospects


Approximately 284,600 industrial engineers are employed in the United States. Although a majority of industrial engineers work in the manufacturing industry (aviation, aerospace, consumer goods, electronics, medical equipment and supplies, etc.), related jobs are found in almost all businesses, including transportation, communications, electric, waste management, energy, government, finance, insurance, real estate, wholesale and retail trade, construction, mining, agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Also, many work as independent consultants. The military also has a need for industrial engineers and technicians. 

Starting Out

The main qualification for an entry-level job is a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering or a related field. Accredited college programs generally have job openings listed in their career services offices. Entry-level industrial engineers find jobs in various departments, such as computer operations, warehousing, and quality control. As engineers gain on-the-job experience and familiarity with departments, they may decide on a specialty. Some may want to continue to work as process designers or methods engineers, while others may move on to administrative positions.

Some further examples of specialties include work measurement standards, shipping and receiving, cost control, engineering economics, materials handling, management information systems, mathematical models, and operations. Many who choose industrial engineering as a career find its appeal in the diversity of sectors that are available to explore.

Advancement Prospects

After having worked several years in the same job, an industrial engineer may have the basic credentials needed for advancement to a higher position. In general, positions in operations and administration are considered high-level jobs, although this varies from company to company. Engineers who work in these areas tend to earn larger salaries than those who work in warehousing or cost control, for example. If one is interested in moving to a different company, it is considered easier to do so within the same industry.

Industrial engineering jobs are often considered stepping-stones to management positions, even in other fields. Engineers with many years' experience frequently are promoted to higher-level jobs with greater responsibilities. Because of the field's broad exposure, industrial engineering employees are generally considered better prepared for executive roles than are other types of engineers.

Tips for Entry

Take math and science courses in high school and read engineering industry trade publications.

Attend a college with an ABET-accredited program in engineering.

Work with your career services office to find internships in the industrial engineering field. 

Join professional associations such as the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.

Attend industry conventions, such as the IISE’s Annual Industrial Engineering Conference and Expo, to network and to interview for jobs.