Learn About Being an Industrial Engineer

Updated June 24, 2022

What does an industrial engineer do?

Industrial engineers work with machines and systems to improve the efficiency of a company. An industrial engineer may work in production or manufacturing and will find ways to cut costs, improve productivity and maximize the organization’s output. An industrial engineer may have the following responsibilities:

  • Evaluate productivity and offer recommendations to improve procedures

  • Assess machinery and identify ways to improve its efficiency

  • Develop quality control standards and regularly test and report on results

  • Predict and improve financial planning for industrial equipment

  • Monitor employee schedules and tasks and make improvements to meet demands

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Average salary

While most industrial engineers are full-time employees, some may work as consultants on a one-time project, improving the efficiency of an organization. Salaries can vary based on geographical location, industry and experience in the field. Industrial engineers, on a large team, may earn less than lead industrial engineers who make recommendations to companies’ management teams. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $75,765 per year

  • Some salaries range from $29,000 to $138,000 per year.

Industrial engineer requirements

An industrial engineer has certain requirements, which include:


Most industrial engineering positions require the completion of a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering or a related field. Related industries might include agricultural engineering, civil engineering, engineering management and information engineering. Depending on the position, a master’s degree in a related engineering field may also be a requirement. Some programs offer students an internship or practicum opportunity to apply their educational skills in the industry.


Many aspiring industrial engineers will obtain a competitive skillset throughout their education. Additional training is often available while working on-the-job with another industrial engineer. The specific training will depend on the industry, but will often include training in design, installation, assessment, evaluation and reporting.


Certifications are not usually a requirement as an industrial engineer, but they can make you a more competitive job candidate. Some employers may require certain certifications or licenses for experienced industrial engineers. A few common certifications you can get in the industry include:

Professional Engineering License (PE)

The PE license is ideal for more experienced industrial engineers. This license moves you from an entry-level industrial engineer title to a professional engineer (PE) classification. To become licensed, you will need a bachelor’s degree, at least four years of industrial experience and successful completion of the Fundamentals of Engineering and the Professional Engineering exams.

Certified in Engineering Graphics (CTP)

The CTP certification is available for industrial engineers pursuing graphic design, geometric construction and annotations. Interested engineers can achieve this certification after completing their engineering degrees and successfully passing the written exam.

Society of Manufacturing Engineers Certification (SME)

The SME certification is ideal for industrial engineers who work in the manufacturing industry and want to keep up with the latest technology and software programs. To achieve an SME certification, you will need a minimum of four years of education and four years of industry experience, and then you will have to pass the exam.

Certified Industrial Energy Professional (CIEP)

The CIEP is a good certification for industrial engineers working in the manufacturing industry with energy efficiency goals. To earn the CIEP, you must have a minimum of six years of combined education and work experience, attend a CIEP training seminar and successfully pass an open book exam.


Industrial engineers require a few soft and hard skills to succeed in their position. A few skills include:


The ability to identify a problem and take the necessary steps to overcome it is important as an industrial engineer. They are often tasked with improving machinery, operating procedures or quality assurance guidelines.

Project management

It is normal for an industrial engineer to have multiple projects at one time. Strong skills in organization, leadership and time management will assist an industrial engineer in completing each project by its intended due date.


Developed verbal and written communication skills are crucial as an industrial engineer. Engineers must communicate with clients or supervisors to better understand their needs. They must collaborate with other engineers to improve productivity. Finally, industrial engineers will also communicate with team members to report results and make recommendations for improvement.


Strongly developed mathematics skills will help industrial engineers with evaluating, designing and implementing new procedures to maximize productivity.

Industrial engineer work environment

A typical workday for an industrial engineer will depend on their current project. They will often split their time between working in an office assessing data and spending time in the warehouse assessing machinery and equipment. Industrial engineers can expect the following job characteristics:

  • A diverse work environment 

  • Long periods of time spent on their feet

  • Numerous meetings with management, engineering teams and employees

  • Long periods of time spent using computers and other technological equipment

  • Frequent use of mathematics

The training and development of skills that industrial engineers receive will often transfer over to other, similar industries. Industrial engineers may work in the following industries:

  • Small business

  • Manufacturing warehouse

  • Insurance

  • Automotive

  • Architecture

  • Technology

How to become an industrial engineer

You can follow these steps to become an industrial engineer:

1. Earn a degree.

Because most industrial engineering positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, the first step toward this career is to complete your education. Choose the area of engineering you are most interested in and then develop the knowledge you will need to succeed in the role. If possible, take advantage of any internships or practicums that might be available through your college program.

2. Find an entry-level position.

Licensure or certification can assist you with finding an industrial engineering position, but most of the certifications require you to have relevant work experience. An entry-level engineering position will not only develop vital industrial engineer skills but also help you progress towards certification.

3. Prepare your resume.

After you have completed your education and developed experience in the engineering industry, prepare your resume. Use your resume to highlight your academic and work experience. With each resume, draft a new cover letter to the open position.

4. Apply for industrial engineer positions.

Once your cover letter and resume are ready, you can begin applying for open industrial engineering positions. Carefully evaluate each position’s requirements to apply where you’re most interested and qualified.

Industrial engineer job description example

Garner Manufacturing Firm is seeking an experienced industrial engineering professional. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of eight years of experience with evaluating and improving the manufacturing equipment in a warehouse environment. Strong teamwork and communication skills are a requirement, as the individual will work with our other analysts regularly. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related field is required, and a professional engineering license is preferred.

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