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Industrial Engineers

At a Glance

  • Deal with the management of people and equipment
  • Work with managers, workers, and assistants
  • Are both creative and analytical
  • Have a bachelor's degree
  • May need a license

Career summary

Industrial engineers design systems for producing goods and providing services. They look for ways to use people and machines most efficiently.

#match with 2424 industrial engineers

Industrial engineers design systems for:

Before they can design a new system, industrial engineers review the steps in the work process for the item being produced or the service being offered. Engineers study each task that workers perform and the machines they use.

Once they understand the process, engineers determine the best way to modify the work. They may recommend changing the order in which materials are processed or how many steps each worker must complete. They may also design new equipment.

Some engineers specialize in improving the output from workers. They may suggest ways to encourage workers to work faster or with fewer errors.

Industrial engineers use many tools and techniques in their work, including computers, drafting tools, and statistical software. They write reports and create diagrams that show their setup recommendations. Industrial engineers must also do mathematical calculations to monitor the costs and savings of their changes. They keep detailed records of their ideas, designs, changes, budgets, and any problems.

Industrial engineers talk with vendors, managers, and employees to discuss changes and generate ideas. Any time something goes wrong, engineers step in to determine what happened and what needs to be done to fix it.

Related careers

This career is part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to industrial engineers.

Common work activities

Industrial engineers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, industrial engineers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Industrial engineers frequently:

It is important for industrial engineers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for industrial engineers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Industrial engineers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an industrial engineer, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most students prepare for this field by earning a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. Many four-year colleges and universities offer this program of study. You may need between four and five years to complete this program.

Some jobs require a master's or doctoral degree (PhD). For instance, if you are interested in teaching industrial engineering, you need a PhD. Also, many engineers go to graduate school to specialize in an area of industrial engineering.

In a typical four-year program, courses include math, basic science, introductory engineering, and social science. You may also study financial engineering, capital budgeting, and safety management. Additional courses include queuing systems and facility planning.

Work experience

You should consider participating in an internship with a manufacturing firm while in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.

On-the-job training

In general, industrial engineers receive on-the-job training. The length of training varies by employer. Some provide up to three months of training and others offer up to two years. Recent graduates work under the guidance of experienced engineers. In large companies, you may also receive formal classroom training. As you gain knowledge and experience you have greater independence and work on more difficult tasks.

Military training

The military does not provide initial training in this field. However, the military may provide work experience to industrial engineering graduates.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link). Engineers use math and science frequently. Try to take math classes through Trigonometry and science classes through Physics.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

For entry-level jobs, most employers prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. Some employers may require applicants who have a few years of direct work experience. Employers may require a master's degree or higher for research and consulting jobs.

Employers prefer to hire industrial engineers who are creative. They also look for applicants who are detail-oriented and analytical. In addition, employers look for applicants who have good communication skills.

Employers may require additional course work in business administration, math, statistics, or related engineering disciplines.

Employers encourage experienced workers to seek their license. For general (non-consulting) positions, a license may not be critical. The extent and type of experience is the most important factor when hiring for these positions.

Costs to workers

Some workers may wish to join a professional association, which may have annual dues. Workers may have to pay for continuing education classes for professional development and to keep up with changes in the field. They may also want to obtain certification from a national organization. This usually involves additional education and testing.


Engineers employed in responsible positions in government or in firms offering services to the public, or who stamp their work as being done by an engineer, must be licensed by the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Getting a license as an engineer-in-training requires:

Professional engineer licensing requirements include:

Engineers who want to be licensed must pay an exam fee to the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors and a $65 fee for the initial state exam application. The state licence renewal fee is $116 every two years. Not all industrial engineers must be licensed.

For information on testing, contact:

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (external link)
PO Box 1686
Clemson, SC 29633-1686

For licensing information, contact:

Washington State Department of Licensing
Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and
Land Surveyors Licensing Program (external link)

PO Box 9025
Olympia, WA 98507-9025

#Deleted reference to fee for Engineers-in-Training since couldn't find on DOL site; rest same, 4/4/18 cj. Wasn't able to find NCEES exam fee so waffled. changed NCEES url to secure format 2/5/19 lh

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Industrial engineers (SOC 17-2112)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $31.14 $38.83 $50.11 $62.76 $76.44
Monthly $5,397 $6,729 $8,684 $10,876 $13,247
Yearly $64,770 $80,760 $104,240 $130,540 $158,990
    Bellingham Hourly $26.55 $30.65 $41.22 $47.85 $52.96
Monthly $4,601 $5,312 $7,143 $8,292 $9,178
Yearly $55,239 $63,759 $85,735 $99,518 $110,157
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $28.52 $33.11 $40.22 $49.36 $57.35
Monthly $4,943 $5,738 $6,970 $8,554 $9,939
Yearly $59,323 $68,858 $83,652 $102,687 $119,284
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $23.41 $27.50 $35.02 $45.02 $50.08
Monthly $4,057 $4,766 $6,069 $7,802 $8,679
Yearly $48,691 $57,211 $72,844 $93,634 $104,150
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $34.39 $41.70 $49.46 $61.90 $78.41
Monthly $5,960 $7,227 $8,571 $10,727 $13,588
Yearly $71,521 $86,748 $102,867 $128,755 $163,092
    Longview Hourly $32.62 $41.23 $48.57 $57.07 $62.86
Monthly $5,653 $7,145 $8,417 $9,890 $10,894
Yearly $67,847 $85,747 $101,035 $118,708 $130,734
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $26.15 $32.49 $36.97 $43.61 $54.48
Monthly $4,532 $5,631 $6,407 $7,558 $9,441
Yearly $54,394 $67,574 $76,898 $90,699 $113,324
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $20.45 $26.82 $42.15 $55.36 $67.94
Monthly $3,544 $4,648 $7,305 $9,594 $11,774
Yearly $42,543 $55,793 $87,680 $115,153 $141,311
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $33.38 $42.07 $54.07 $65.96 $79.39
Monthly $5,785 $7,291 $9,370 $11,431 $13,758
Yearly $69,429 $87,498 $112,459 $137,203 $165,127
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $24.82 $28.22 $35.46 $46.29 $56.32
Monthly $4,301 $4,891 $6,145 $8,022 $9,760
Yearly $51,631 $58,694 $73,756 $96,298 $117,145
    Vancouver Hourly $30.64 $36.09 $43.54 $50.72 $61.58
Monthly $5,310 $6,254 $7,545 $8,790 $10,672
Yearly $63,741 $75,052 $90,547 $105,502 $128,092
    Wenatchee Hourly $22.61 $32.27 $37.46 $46.07 $56.56
Monthly $3,918 $5,592 $6,492 $7,984 $9,802
Yearly $47,017 $67,118 $77,915 $95,822 $117,631
    Yakima Hourly $23.44 $35.22 $46.23 $60.03 $72.46
Monthly $4,062 $6,104 $8,012 $10,403 $12,557
Yearly $48,766 $73,258 $96,169 $124,857 $150,717
United States Hourly $27.15 $33.50 $41.84 $52.19 $63.63
Monthly $4,705 $5,806 $7,251 $9,045 $11,027
Yearly $56,470 $69,690 $87,040 $108,560 $132,340

Wages vary by employer and area of the country. The engineer's level of training, experience, and responsibility also affect wages.

Industrial engineers who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Industrial Engineers (SOC 17-2112)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 7,517 14.4% 16.1% 728
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 90 10.0% 13.4% 8
    Benton and Franklin Counties 221 12.7% 15.0% 21
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 91 5.5% 11.9% 7
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 254 1.2% 15.2% 17
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 93 5.4% 14.1% 7
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 259 18.1% 14.6% 27
    King County 3,616 17.5% 19.6% 377
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 82 7.3% 13.8% 7
    Pierce County 194 17.5% 15.2% 19
    Snohomish County 2,105 10.8% 12.4% 186
    Spokane County 194 6.7% 13.9% 15
United States 284,600 8.4% 5.2% 22,600

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand is expected to grow faster than average for this occupation. This occupation is versatile both in the nature of the work it does and in the industries in which its expertise can be put to use. Growth in healthcare and changes in how healthcare is delivered will create demand for industrial engineers in firms in professional, scientific, and consulting services.

Job openings will occur each year as workers leave this occupation or retire.

Other resources

American Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) (external link)
(This website provides a list of engineering-related programs accredited by ABET)
415 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
American Society for Quality (external link)
PO Box 3005
Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005
Association for Manufacturing Technology (external link)
7901 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
Discover Engineering (external link)
Engineer Girl! (external link)
National Academy of Engineering
Engineering Your Future (external link)
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (external link)
2025 M Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036
Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (external link)
3577 Parkway Lane, Suite 200
Norcross, GA 30092
International Council of Systems Engineers (external link)
7670 Opportunity Road, Suite 220
San Diego, CA 92111
National Academy of Engineering (external link)
500 Fifth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (external link)
National Society of Professional Engineers (external link)
1420 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Society of Women Engineers (external link)
130 East Randolph Street, Suite 3500
Chicago, IL 60601
Technology Student Association (external link)
1904 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191-1540
The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (external link)
Washington Society of Professional Engineers (external link)
Washington State Science & Engineering Fair (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational clusters