Entry-level industrial engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree. Employers also value experience, so cooperative-education engineering programs at universities are also valuable. Students interested in studying industrial engineering should take high school courses in mathematics, such as algebra, trigonometry, and calculus; computer science; and sciences such as chemistry and physics.
Bachelor’s degree programs typically are four-year programs and include lectures in classrooms and practice in laboratories. Courses include statistics, production systems planning, and manufacturing systems design, among others. Many colleges and universities offer cooperative-education programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education. Some colleges and universities offer five-year degree programs that lead to a bachelor’s and master’s degree upon completion. A graduate degree will allow an engineer to work as a professor at a university or to engage in research and development. Some five-year or even six-year cooperative-education plans combine classroom study with practical work, permitting students to gain experience and to finance part of their education.
Programs in industrial engineering are accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Beginning industrial engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In large companies, new engineers also may receive formal training in classes or seminars. As beginning engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move to more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.
Eventually, industrial engineers may advance to become technical specialists, such as quality engineers or facility planners. In that role, they supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Many move into management positions because the work they do is closely related to the work of manager.