Industrial Engineering: A Failsafe Degree?

Individuals seeking a new career path in the engineering field may contemplate earning a degree in industrial engineering, believing this industry offers failsafe job options. Are the job prospects as positive as most individuals believe them to be, especially in the present struggling workforce?

What They Do

Industrial engineers focus on the design, development, implementation, and improvement on integrated systems, taking into consideration people, information, materials, energy, and equipment. From the factory assembly lines to hospital operating rooms, industrial engineers help improve complex processes to eliminate wastefulness in a wide range of industries and production processes.


Industrial engineering offers individuals a wide range of career possibilities. The greater your experience and qualifications are, the more job opportunities are available to you; however, with the multitude of choices and much-needed commitment required in this field comes tough decisions that could impact your prospects. In order to increase your chances of finding a position as an industrial engineer, you need to focus on opportunities that are best suited to your strengths and skills, allowing you to be the most effective.

Industrial engineering is predicted to increase by approximately six percent between the years 2010 and 2020, which is less than the overall occupational average; however, being versatile in both the pertinent industries and work nature, industrial engineers are attractive to most employers because their work can help businesses increase efficiency through cost control. Besides playing a crucial role in providing a corporation with a competitive edge, industrial engineering offers individuals many positive prospects in this career.

Career Versatility

Industrial engineering offers a wide range of career choices. Because industrial engineers do not specialize in a specific field, as do other engineers, they can seek employment in various industries such as hospitals, major manufacturing industries, research and development corporations, and consulting and engineering services.

Industrial engineers focus on reducing a companys internal costs, which makes them a valuable asset to even the fastest growing industries. For those contemplating industrial engineering as a career choice, individuals need to take into account that finding a job in this industry may be hindered because many employment opportunities in manufacturing industries are projected to decline or only slowly grow through over the next few years.

Exceptional Pay

Those who are seeking a position as an industrial engineer can expect to earn a decent annual salary. The median annual salary for an industrial engineer was approximately $76,100, as of May 2010. Median annual salaries for industrial engineers in the top employing industries as of May 2010 were as follows:

Semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing – $83,620
Navigational, electromedical, control instruments, and measuring manufacturing – $81,850
Engineering, architectural, and related services – $80,990
Aerospace parts and products manufacturing – $80,940
Automobile parts manufacturing – $72,840

Promotion Opportunities

After obtaining the proper amount of experience, it is not uncommon for industrial engineers to be promoted to a managerial position. For those who are seeking a management position, industrial engineering offers an easy solution. Aspiring industrial engineers obtain similar business training and education as business students, and many times industrial engineers will minor in sales or businesses administration. Additional math, technology, and science training make industrial engineers more marketable to employers, and many will complete their educational experience by earning an MBA.

Nigel Cunningham is a writer and blogger currently penning articles for Allight Sykes, a company which supplies a range of products such as light towers, mining pumps and other equipment.