Getting a Degree in Industrial Engineering

 An industrial engineer works to improve processes or systems. They strive to eliminate waste. They devise efficient ways to use workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service. They figure out how to manufacture parts or products or deliver services with maximum efficiency. They develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient and work with customers and management to develop standards for design and production.

Industrial engineers work in offices and in the settings they are trying to improve. You can get your associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or even a doctorate degree in industrial engineering.

Associate’s Degree in Industrial Engineering

A two-year associate’s degree in industrial engineering will help prepare you for basic entry-level positions. It can also serve as a foundation for a bachelor’s degree program in industrial technology, engineering, or more.

Some of the courses you might take would be on electricity, circuits, and industrial electronics. You might then be able to find work as a utility worker, electrical technician, or mechanical apprentice.

Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial  Engineering

A bachelor’s degree is going to be required by most entry-level industrial engineering jobs. When going for your bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering you would start by studying pre-engineering and general education. The last two years would be more devoted to core engineering curriculum. You take classes in production and operations planning, international production and operation management, materials handling, logistics, and operations scheduling.

A bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering should take you four years on average and you can do so online or in-person.

Online Industrial Engineering Programs

Highly rated online industrial engineering programs:

  • Western Carolina University
  • Seminole State College of Florida
  • Daytona State College

In-Person Industrial Engineering Programs

Highly rated in-person programs:

  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • Virginia Tech

Jobs you can get with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial  Engineering

  • Sales Engineers, who sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses and have extensive knowledge of the products, parts, and functions and must understand the scientific processes that make these products work, have an average salary of $87,598, according to Glassdoor as of July 2020.
  • Senior Automation Project Engineers, who work with multiple disciplines, manufacturing, process engineering, process development, utility operations, develop and analyze master test plans, test cases, and more, have an average salary of $94,130 according to Glassdoor, as of July 2020.
  • Process Engineers, who design, optimize, and oversee the systems used to transform raw materials into finished products and provide the chemical or biochemical processes and equipment that are used to turn raw materials into the end product, have an average salary of $74,822, according to Glassdoor as of July 2020.

Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering

A master’s degree in industrial engineering prepares you to work in many roles and industries. It will allow you to take on leadership roles, enter management, or go into more analytics or engineering oriented jobs. It will give you more options for your career.

Each master’s degree program will have its own requirements, courses, and features. You would take classes in quality control and improvement, facility planning and design, manufacturing systems, transportation and supply chain systems, and warehousing systems.

A master’s degree will take you around two years and you can attend an online or in-person program.

For online programs, Columbia University, the University of Southern California, and North Carolina State University are all highly rated. For in-person programs, Northwestern University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor are all highly rated.

Jobs you can get with a Master’s Degree in Industrial  Engineering:

  • Logisticians, who work in many different industries, analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain and the systems that move a product from supplier to consumer, have an average salary of $54,060, according to Glassdoor, as of June 2020.
  • Quality Control Inspectors, who read blueprints and specifications, monitor operations to ensure that they meet production standards, and recommend adjustments to the assembly or production processes, have an average salary of $44,432 according to Glassdoor, as of July 2020.
  • Industrial Production Managers, who oversee the daily operations of manufacturing and related plants, coordinate plans, and direct the activities used to create a wide range of goods such as cars, computers and other products, have an average salary of $67,096, according to Glassdoor as of May 2020.

Doctorate Degrees in Industrial Engineering

If you want to go even further with your career in industrial engineering, you can go on to get your Ph.D. This will take you around 5-6 years and would be an advanced degree that can prepare you to become a researcher in the realm of industrial engineering or go into academia, the private sector, or even the government.

The University of South Florida, Wichita State University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign all have highly rated programs. The courses you would take would depend on what direction you were going in. Some examples of classes would be production planning, project management and engineering, and industrial optimization.

Related Majors

Industrial Engineering Licensing

Becoming licensed in industrial engineering isn’t required, and not as common as it is for other types of engineering.

However, it can be encouraged depending on the type of job you will get and where you will work. Getting a PE (Professional Engineering) license will also allow for a higher level of leadership and independence during your career.

State requirements can include having:

  • a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • a passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • relevant work experience typically at least four years
  • a passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

Industrial Engineering Scholarships

Getting your degree in industrial engineering means you can apply for certain scholarships that specialize in engineering or similar degrees. Here are a couple of them:

A.O. Putnam Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship is through IISE, the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, and available to undergraduate students at a school where their industrial engineering program or equivalent is accredited by an agency or organization that is recognized by IISE and that the student is pursuing a course of study in industrial engineering. Priority is given to students who have demonstrated an interest in management consulting. There will be one scholarship for $1,000.

C.B. Gambrell Undergraduate Scholarship

This scholarship is also through IISE, and available to undergraduate industrial engineering students who are US citizens who have graduated from a US high school and have a class standing above a freshman in an ABET-accredited IE program. There will be one scholarship of $2,000.

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Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.