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Since the dawn of the modern age and industrialization, there has been a need for industrial engineers. Although not everyone may know what industrial engineering is without looking it up, they are complex professionals who have touched the materials, money, or processes at some point in the supply chain of nearly every product or service that we buy or receive at any given point. Industrial engineers find ways to trim down systems and eliminate waste. Their analytical minds find the most efficient way to run a big business or reduce injury on a factory line. Graduates with an online industrial engineering degree may see slowing demand for their skills, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While still solid, pay for this engineering degree is lower than most engineering programs. Industrial engineers who hold a bachelor's degree earn a mean of about $80,000. Industrials engineers work in many fields and specialty areas, so expect pay and demand to be variable for this major.
THE CAREER PATH
Few people understand what an industrial engineer does. Industrial engineers develop statistical models and methods to quantify and improve the performance of machine and human systems. They help eliminate wasted effort. They work in many fields, including ergonomics and safety, operations and logistics, operations research, quality engineering, manufacturing and cost and value engineering. Historically, industrial engineers designed the layout and production flow of factories and assembly lines in manufacturing plants. They still perform in manufacturing settings, but in recent years, their influence has spread to include the statistical analysis and improvement of the way humans interact with all types of machines. They study problems as obscure as the best methods to load people onto airplanes in the most time- and cost-effective manner.
Since every smart business wants to maximize the efficiency and minimize costs, the demand for professionals who make it happen in the coming years is expected to grow more than the national average. The variety of opportunity across the spectrum of industrial engineering means that professionals are able to apply their skills to an area that suits their interests, from manufacturing to healthcare to environmental studies to business.
The Department of Labor (DOL) describes manufacturing engineering as the primary specialization that falls under the umbrella of industrial engineering. Manufacturing Engineers are the industrial engineering experts that focus their career entirely on the automated aspects of the manufacturing process. They may design manufacturing systems to optimize the use of computer networks, robots, and materials. Industrial engineers can work for businesses, governments, and nonprofits. The average industrial engineer makes nearly $85,000 annually, and the demand is high across a variety of industries that might appeal to developing professionals in the engineering field.
Industrial engineering technicians assist engineers in preparing layouts, planning workflows, conducting studies, and analyzing data and costs. Technicians make more than $50,000 on average, and can start out with an associate degree or post-secondary certificate. Regardless of the unique path or pace that you set for your career in industrial engineering, you can start your journey if you are confident in your ability to apply the science, math, and engineering methods to complex systems of integration and operations.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
No one should expect a career in engineering without the math and science aspects. On top of those traditional engineering qualities, industrial engineering is unique because it requires professionals to be creative and think outside of the box in order to pioneer new solutions for effective production. Professionals that succeed in industrial engineering can invest their collection of skills in listening, reading, and writing, into dynamic teams within the industries that appeal most to them in order to truly impact the efficiency and long-term outcome of society’s production.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Most industrial engineering degree online programs are for master's degrees. Because industrial engineers apply mathematical models to improve efficiency, professionals who enter this field often hold a bachelor's in math, statistics and probability, computer science or supply chain management and logistics.
Industrial engineering degree programs are also sometimes referred to as systems engineering. Explore online systems engineering degree programs if an industrial engineering major interests you. There may also be career crossover with an online manufacturing degree. Other related degree majors include an online quality assurance degree and online materials science degree.
Since industrial engineers specialize in designing systems that optimize time, money and resources. Expect an online industrial engineering degree to include courses in quantitative engineering such as engineering economics and finance, ergonomics and safety, operation research, production, probability and statistics, supply chain and logistics, computer simulation modeling, and production and manufacturing systems.
The highest quality industrial engineering programs will be programmatically recognized by the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), but may cost more. Post-graduation licenses are not required for most entry-level positions, but as competitive professionals seek to advance their careers and educate future students or dedicate time to research, they may be interested in a Professional Engineer certification, issued on a state-by-state basis. Additional certifications are offered for specializations by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).
The average cost of an online master's degree program in engineering is $28,000. Keep this number in mind as you research programs. Although ABET accredited programs are usually more expensive, that's not always the case! Consult our cost rankings or click on any program below to view tuition, accreditation, and admission information.