Students interested in studying industrial engineering should take high school courses in mathematics (algebra, trigonometry, calculus), computer science, chemistry, and physics. Entry-level industrial engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree. Employers also value experience, so cooperative-education engineering programs at universities are also valuable.
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 a manager.
What are Industrial Engineers like?
Based on our pool of users, industrial engineers tend to be predominately enterprising people.
Take our career test to see what career interest category best describes you.
Industrial Engineers by Strongest Interest Archetype
Based on sample of 353 Sokanu users
Are Industrial Engineers happy?
Industrial engineers rank
among the least happy
careers. Overall they rank in the 27th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores.
Industrial Engineer Career Satisfaction by Dimension
Percentile among all careers
Education History of Industrial Engineers
The most common degree held by industrial engineers is Industrial Engineering.
12% of industrial engineers had a degree in industrial engineering before becoming industrial engineers. That is over 40 times the average across all careers.
Mechanical Engineering graduates are the second most common among industrial engineers, representing 6% of industrial engineers in the Sokanu user base, which is 3.5 times the average.
Industrial Engineer Education History
This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming an Industrial Engineer, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.