While originally focused on streamlining manufacturing processes, the field of industrial engineering now improves processes and systems in virtually all industries, to make them more efficient, yielding less waste, and costing less. To maximize efficiency, industrial engineers balance many factors such as the number and type of workers involved in a process, available equipment, safety, environmental impact, and cost. They might design faster production methods… choose new materials to make longer-lasting products… or devise ways to move customers through a line faster at an amusement park. Some engineers focus entirely on automated manufacturing and work with robots and computer networks. Industrial engineers often rely on teams to identify problems and solutions in their work. They generally work in offices… or travel to the settings they are analyzing to identify improvements. For example, they may watch workers assemble parts in a factory, then return to an office to analyze the data they have collected. Most industrial engineers work full time, but hours may vary depending on the needs of specific projects. Industrial engineers need a bachelor’s degree, in industrial engineering or a related engineering field. Employers value practical experience in the field, which many programs offer as part of a degree program.
What they do:
Design objects, facilities, and environments to optimize human well-being and overall system performance, applying theory, principles, and data regarding the relationship between humans and respective technology. Investigate and analyze characteristics of human behavior and performance as it relates to the use of technology.
On the job, you would:
Design or evaluate human work systems, using human factors engineering and ergonomic principles to optimize usability, cost, quality, safety, or performance.
Develop or implement human performance research, investigation, or analysis protocols.
Recommend workplace changes to improve health and safety, using knowledge of potentially harmful factors, such as heavy loads or repetitive motions.
Engineering and Technology
product and service development
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
Arts and Humanities
Education and Training
teaching and course design
reading work related information
talking to others
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
measuring how well a system is working and how to improve it
communicate by speaking
communicate by writing
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
use rules to solve problems
choose the right type of math to solve a problem
add, subtract, multiply, or divide
see hidden patterns
People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Analytical or scientific software
IBM SPSS Statistics
The MathWorks MATLAB
Web platform development software
master's degree or doctoral degree usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.