Industrial Engineers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

To prepare for a college engineering program, concentrate on mathematics (algebra, trigonometry, geometry, calculus), physical sciences (physics, chemistry), social sciences (economics, sociology), and English. Engineers often have to convey ideas graphically and may need to visualize processes in three-dimension, so courses in graphics, drafting, design, and computer-aided design are also helpful. In addition, round out your education with computer science, history, and foreign language classes. If honor-level courses are available to you, be sure to take them.

Postsecondary Training

A bachelor's degree in industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering technology, or general engineering from an accredited institution is usually the minimum requirement for all professional positions. ABET accredits schools offering engineering programs, including industrial engineering. A listing of accredited colleges and universities is available on ABET's Web site (, and a visit here should be one of your first stops when you are deciding on a school to attend. Colleges and universities offer either four- or five-year engineering programs. The five-year program leads to a master's degree.

During your junior and senior years of college, you should consider your specific career goals, such as in which industry to work. Third- and fourth-year courses focus on such subjects as facility planning and design, work measurement standards, process design, engineering economics, manufacturing and automation, and incentive plans.

Many industrial engineers go on to earn a graduate degree. These programs tend to involve more research and independent study. Graduate degrees are usually required for teaching and some upper-management positions.


Many colleges and universities offer certificates in industrial engineering. Others offer certificates in cutting-edge areas—such as robotics, automation, data analytics, and 3–D printing and other forms of additive manufacturing—that are of interest to engineers. Contact schools in your area to learn more about available programs. 

Other Education or Training

The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers provides continuing education courses on topics such as management, developing effective communication skills, applied ergonomics, quality systems standards, and supply chain management. The American Society for Engineering Education offers continuing education opportunities for engineers via its annual conference and other events. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Licensure as a professional engineer is recommended since an increasing number of employers require it. Even those employers who do not require licensing will view it favorably when considering new hires or when reviewing workers for promotion. Licensing requirements vary from state to state. In general, however, they involve having graduated from an accredited school, having four years of work experience, and having passed the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. These exams are offered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying ( Depending on your state, you can take the Fundamentals exam shortly after your graduation from college or after you have received your bachelor's degree. At that point you will be an engineer-in-training (EIT). Once you have fulfilled all the licensure requirements, you receive the designation professional engineer (PE).

SME, a professional association for manufacturing professionals, provides the certified manufacturing engineer credential to applicants who have a minimum of eight combined years of manufacturing-related education and work experience (a minimum of four years) and pass an examination. 

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Industrial engineers need experience working with a variety of manufacturing processes. Students can obtain this experience by participating in internships and co-op opportunities during college.

Industrial engineers should enjoy analyzing the way industrial operations work and finding creative solutions to making them more efficient and cost-effective. Engineers need good problem-solving skills and they should have a broad expertise in computer technology. They also need to be good communicators to present written and oral reports in a clear, concise manner.