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Industrial engineers use principles of technology and engineering to eliminate wasteful and inefficient processes in a production environment. They focus on reducing costs, promoting safety, utilizing efficient materials, and saving time and energy. They’re responsible for analyzing processes, determining areas of improvement, communicating effectively, creating documentation, and implementing training for new procedures.

A successful industrial engineer should have strong math and communication skills and encompass a strong desire for efficiency and organization. Job candidates need a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering or a related field, such as general engineering, economics, or production design and manufacturing.

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Industrial Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

While the day-to-day duties of an industrial engineer are determined by their employer, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these may include:

Develop Process Improvements

By analyzing processes and data, industrial engineers develop, communicate, and implement process improvements, technological upgrades, and existing procedure automation.

Analyze Processes

Industrial engineers aggregate and summarize information from a variety of sources, then communicate their findings as appropriate. By utilizing analytical skills, areas of improvement can be more easily identified.

Train Staff

If a new process is implemented, it is the responsibility of the industrial engineer to train production staff for standardization. This can include developing instructions and manuals for employees.

Develop and Manage Process Documentation

These engineers assist with the development of documenting action items to ensure problem resolution.

Industrial Engineer Skills and Qualifications

Successful industrial engineers are strong communicators and natural problem-solvers. They should also be energetic, detail oriented, and skilled with math. The ideal candidate has strong analytical capabilities and is familiar with managing multiple processes. Employers prefer candidates who possess the following abilities:

  • Communication skills - industrial engineers are strong communicators. This is essential because it's crucial to effectively demonstrate to colleagues why suggested process improvements are essential to organizational effectiveness
  • Continuous improvement - it is important that industrial engineers always look for continuous improvement opportunities. This mindset helps ensure an organization is operating as effectively as possible without losing more time or money
  • Attention to detail - many tasks assigned to industrial engineers require a high level of detail and organization (i.e., analytics, training, process implementation, etc.). It is crucial that someone in this role can multitask while paying close attention to details in a deadline- and goal-driven environment
  • Adaptability - industrial engineers typically work as a member of several teams, which requires flexibility and adaptability. Candidates interested in this role should be comfortable working in a matrixed environment
  • Critical thinking - these engineers are responsible for solving problems and creating new systems to remove inefficiencies. Dealing with these issues and identifying the right approach to a problem area requires logic and strong reasoning skills

Industrial Engineer Education and Training

A bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering or a related field is typically required for this career. Industrial engineers work in many industries, as containing costs and maximizing efficiencies is extremely important. Some of these industries include manufacturing, technology, consulting, retail, and healthcare. On-the-job training covering specific processes and policies is typically offered by employers.

Industrial Engineer Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the median annual wage for industrial engineers as $85,880. The organization also suggests that employment is projected to grow 10 percent by 2026, which is faster than the average for most occupations.

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Helpful Resources

There are many helpful resources available for those interested in careers as industrial engineers. Please review the links below for valuable information and the latest industry news:

Institute of Industrial Engineers

this international organization provides industry news, training, and networking opportunities to aspiring and current industrial engineers

National Society of Professional Engineers

this group provides professionals in the engineering community with tools, resources, and services to aid career development

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

this nonprofit organization is an accrediting agency for programs in many fields, including engineering and engineering technology

Maynard's Industrial Engineering Handbook

this book outlines important industry practices and principles

The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook: A Quick Reference Guide to 100 Tools for Improving Quality and Speed

industrial engineers need to be very familiar with Lean, and in many cases work closely with Lean coaches and managers. This book provides many examples and best practices around the Lean Six Sigma method

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