Industrial Engineering – Job Descriptions, Working Fields, Salaries…

Industrial engineering infograph.
Image Source: Rochester Institute of Technology

Engineering is a very interesting area and there are lots of engineering fields. One of these engineering fields is industrial engineering. This engineering branch is a very important engineering area that lots of people are employed as industrial engineers in various sectors. Here, we will talk about the various aspects of industrial engineering. These general topics are;

  • What is industrial engineering? What is the job description of this engineering field?
  • A short history of industrial engineering and where it emerged from.
  • The general sectors that which these engineers are working.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of this engineering field over others.
  • The education in this engineering field.
  • General salaries of industrial engineers in top-paying countries.

What is Industrial Engineering?

Industrial engineering is an engineering field that deals with the management of people, materials, and machinery in industrial sites. These engineers are capable of lots of engineering topics also they are capable of finance, business management, and other management topics. So, these engineering field is the combination of these different fields; engineering and management.

Industrial engineers have very important responsibilities in manufacturing sites. They are generally making optimizations of manufacturing operations in terms of time and cost. So, time and cost are very important for these engineers. They need to use both engineering practices and business and money management practices while they are performing their jobs.

The difference between industrial engineering from other engineering fields such as; mechanical engineeringcivil engineering, or chemical engineering, they are not thinking inside a specific profession. They are looking from the biggest perspective of the system.

For example, there is a very big manufacturing machine such as a machining center. An industrial engineer’s job is to improve the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the manufacturing in these centers. So, they need to know the principles of machining operations, management of the manufacturing site, management of people, and management of money.

Where Did Industrial Engineering Emerge?

Industrial engineering.
Image Source: SDU.

The emergence of this engineering field is new if we compare it with other engineering fields. The requirement for industrial engineers emerged with the emergence of very big manufacturing industries. Because of this, they need people who are capable of engineering and money management.

Before industrial engineering, mechanical engineers with MBA degrees are hired for these positions. But education institutions noticed this type of necessity, and they opened faculties and departments of this engineering. So the emergence of this engineering branch came from this.

These education institutions combined the different kinds of topics from different kinds of disciplines. For example, they are taking lessons from mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and materials engineering. Also, they are taking lessons such as business management, economics, etc.

So, we can understand that this engineering branch emerged from the direct necessity of the manufacturing sector.

Sectors and Fields That Industrial Engineers Work

In different fields, people from this engineering branch are working in different positions. Because different departments of engineering companies need industrial engineers.

Automotive Companies

Automotive sector is veyr important for industrial engineers.

Production and research and development of automotive products is not an easy business. There are lots of kinds of parts in an automobile and the production of these parts is not easy stuff. We need lots of kinds of manufacturing processes to produce an automobile. So, in the development of these manufacturing processes and manufacturing lines of automobiles, they need to hire these engineers.

In the direct cost improvement of the products, the cost improvements in manufacturing and the cost improvement of the parts of products are required. So, they need to use two fields which are cost management and engineering. So, industrial engineers will be vital for the automotive industry.

Metal Manufacturing Companies

Metal industry.

The metal industry has lots of kinds of branches such as metal casting, machining, or forging to obtain the primary parts of the whole products such as automobiles or other complex systems. The metal industry is one of the biggest manufacturing industries where lots of industrial engineers are working in.

In the developments and cost-improvement of the metal manufacturing systems, these engineers are taking very important roles. They know the metal production techniques and how to make it more efficient these systems in general. So, they are in the management sections of these metal production processes.

Household Appliances Companies

There are lots of international companies that produce and develop household appliances. The development and production of household appliances are also not easy businesses. They are using lots of kinds of manufacturing processes to produce these household appliances. So, in the production and development of these products, industrial engineers have a very big responsibility.

High Technology Companies

High technology companies generally provide to other businesses. Such as the fully-automated production lines. In the research and development phase of these high technology complex systems, cost research of components are a very important thing. If we think there are lots of kinds of components that are used in high-tech devices, people who carry out these kinds of things should know both the engineering and the cost management. So, industrial engineers are generally taking on very important roles in high-tech companies.

Aerospace Companies

In aerospace companies, there are no kinds of serial production manner if we compare with other types of industries. Because the products are very big and the assembly of the product is performed in one place. But in aerospace companies, research and development activities are very dense. So, there are lots of cost-effectiveness analyses.

Aerospace production and maintenance.

There are lots of parts of products that should be cost-effective and safe in terms of engineering. So, industrial engineers are best for this kind of business. They can assess the cost-effectiveness and the engineering side of the change.

As you understand, there are lots of industrial engineers in the research and development departments. Yes, there are very big engineering research and development centers. But, the cost is also a very big problem. If there are people that understand the cost analysis of a system, it will be very efficient.

Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharmaceutical industry.

The available working areas for industrial engineers are very wide. Because they are looking from a bigger viewpoint to things. For example in the pharmaceutical industry, probably industrial engineers will not take part in the medicine development. But they can take a part in the development of production of the products.

Also in pharmaceutical industries and manufacturing sites, there is a lot of machinery to produce products in serial production. So, cost-improvement and efficiency improvements of these production facilities are one of the biggest responsibilities of industrial engineers.

Recycling Industries

Recycling is a very important topic today. This is very important for our environment. To save nature, it will be better to recycle the materials that we use. So, there is great engineering inside it. People dealing with the development of recycling processes are engineers.

Also, cost-effectiveness is very important for recycling industries. The recycling expenses must meet the price of the material in the marketç Otherwise, it will not effective as well. So, hiring industrial engineers will be very effective for the recycling sector. They can optimize the engineering and cost sides of recycling processes.

Green Energy Sector

Also, green energy is very important to save our planet. Global warming is a real problem. And there must be very innovative energy solutions to get rid of fossil fuels. In the green energy sector, there are lots of investments in the development of these technologies. So, green energy is a developing sector.

In the developing sectors, there are also very strict research and development activities. So if there is research and development, hiring industrial engineers will be very beneficial. Industrial engineers that experience in the energy sector will be very vital for green energy projects.

What are the Advantages of Industrial Engineering?

If we compare it with the other engineering branches, there are various advantages of industrial engineering.

Industrial engineers.
  • Can be hired in various sectors: This is the biggest advantage of industrial engineering. In a very wide variety of companies, they are are employed. If there is a research and development activity or serial production activity, there is a working space for them.
  • Different engineering disciplines: Another important advantage of industrial engineering is, that this branch is a combination of different engineering disciplines such as mechanical engineering and manufacturing engineering. So, they are capable of looking at the more wide viewpoint of the systems.
  • Different financial disciplines and cost management: Other than the conventional engineering disciplines, they are capable of the financial and cost side of the engineering systems. They combine engineering knowledge with other financial disciplines such as business management.
  • A brand-new engineering field: This is a very new engineering branch. The other 4 main engineering disciplines are very old up to the industrial revolutions. But if we take a look at the emergence of industrial engineering, it is very new. So, there are lots of sides that need to be improved. It is very open to improvements.
  • High-paying job: Like other engineering fields, industrial engineering is a very high-paying job. Companies spare lots of money for their industrial engineers. Because industrial engineers are improving the costs and efficiencies and company makes more money.

These are the general advantages of this engineering field. If we take a look at these advantages, industrial engineering is a very good and exciting engineering branch to improve yourself.

Disadvantages of Industrial Engineering

Along with the advantages, there are also disadvantages of this engineering field. These are the general disadvantages of industrial engineering.

  • A brand-new engineering field: Yes we stated it as an advantage. But also, it may appear as a disadvantage. Some companies may be close to innovations. And hiring them may seem hard for them. They may just be looking for mechanical engineers for the positions of industrial engineers. So, you will probably get worried about it. But, you do not need to worry. Because, companies that are not aware of these kinds of innovations, can not survive in today’s world. We are living in a world of innovations.
  • Not being focused on engineering discipline: Unlike other engineering disciplines, this engineering area is a combination of different disciplines. Yes, this may provide a general viewpoint about businesses. But, it is quite hard to get specialize in a specific area in this engineering if we compare it with other mainstream engineering areas.
  • Being exposed to jokes from other disciplines: People from other engineering disciplines can make jokes like “Industrial engineering is not an actual engineering…”. Because they also know that this engineering field is a combination of different disciplines. So, they are not seen as a focused engineering branch. But, don’t worry, this is a brand new area and some people may be close to the innovations.

These are very basic disadvantages and they can be alleviated by a different approach to industrial engineering. The advantages are more straightforward and make this engineering a preferable job.

How is the Industrial Engineering Education?

Engineering educations are generally very hard. You need to have the ability to complete the engineering education with success. And success is a very important factor in a career after education. You can find the general educational aspects of this engineering area here.

The education in this engineering area is given by the engineering faculties of official education institutions. The certificate of industrial engineering is given by accredited schools and education institutions.

Before starting the industrial engineering education, you can have a 1 year of preparation class. In preparation class, generally, language education is given. For example, an additional language that you can learn here will be very useful for your career.

After the preparation class, engineering education starts.

First Year

In general, each year has 2 semesters. And also, people call the level of education semesters. Such as 5. semester means the first semester of the third year of engineering education.

In the first semester of industrial engineering education, general lessons about physics, chemistry, mathematics, and maybe a programming language such as Phyton or Matlab. These primary lessons will prepare you for advanced education in engineering.

In the second semester, you will generally take the 102 lessons in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Also, there can be orientation classes for them and linear algebra courses. In general, the basics of computer-aided engineering and drawing courses can be the topic of the second semester.

Second Year

In the second year, you will start with the very advanced topics of mathematics and algebra. These tools are very important in calculations. Also, you will start to take financial and material planning lessons. And the topics of production engineering can be mentioned in the first semester of the second year.

Also in the second semester, you will take 102 lessons of algebra and mathematics courses. Fundamentals of materials science and engineering statistics are among the lessons of industrial engineering. Along with these lessons, you will probably take network flows and integer programming which is again related to electronics.

As you understand, you are taking lessons from lots of engineering disciplines and also from economics and finance. You are gaining a general viewpoint of engineering in this education.

Third Year

In the third year of industrial engineering education, you will take lessons that will make you an engineer. In general, the lessons in the third year of engineering education is the hardest one. Because all the fundamental lessons are in the third year.

In the fifth semester or the first semester in the third year, general lessons are; system design and control which is from control engineering. Production and operation engineering, engineering economy, and work systems analysis and design are the main lessons.

The second semester starts with the 102 lessons of the first semester. Engineering simulations and quality planning and control lessons are the general lessons of the sixth semester. Also, there can be additional lessons such as thermodynamics and heat transfer from mechanical engineering.

In the third year, some education institutions can have mandatory summer practices. These mandatory summer practices are generally summer interns in professional engineering companies. Some institutions provide summer practices in contracted companies. In some of the institutions, you need to find yourself.

You need to complete your summer practice related to the field in which you want to improve yourself.

The Last Year

The last year of the industrial engineering education comprises the seventh and eighth semesters. In these semesters, you will probably take optional lessons according to the field in which you want to improve yourself. Also, you will have a final project in industrial engineering. Also, this final project must be related to the area in which you want to improve yourself.

If you complete the final thesis in cooperation with an engineering company, it will be a very valuable asset for your career.

These are the general aspects of industrial engineering education.

Salaries of Industrial Engineers in the World

Industrial engineering is one of the best-paid jobs among others. Because the responsibilities of industrial engineers are very hard in companies. They are responsible for the operations of manufacturing, cost improvement of manufacturing lines, and efficiency improvements. These aspects are directly related to the total profits of the company. Because of this, companies are paying very well to industrial engineers.

Let’s take a look at the list below to see the top paying countries for them.

  • Switzerland: Switzerland is one of the best countries to be an engineer. The working hours are also very low in Switzerland. Industrial engineers are earning around $80.000 per year on average which is very high if we compare it with other countries of the world.
  • The US: The US is one of the biggest industrialized countries in the world. And the need for industrial engineers in the US is very high. The average annual wage of them in the US is around $75.000.
  • The UK: Also, they can earn lots of money in British companies. They can earn up to 43.000 pounds per year in the UK which is very above the world average.
  • Australia: Australia is around the highest demand for industrial engineers in the world. They are paying an average of $60.000 per year to them.
  • Germany: Germany is among the most industrialized countries. So, the demand for industrial engineers is very high in Germany. You can earn up to $90.000 per year in German companies.
  • Canada: Like Australia, Canada has always place for industrial engineers. In Canada, they can earn up to $75.000 per year.

As you see above, these countries are paying very well for this branch of engineers. You can earn lots of money if you work in companies in these countries.


This engineering branch is a very promising engineering branch. Because it is the combination of multiple useful disciplines. So, they have a general viewpoint on engineering companies and engineering itself. They are taking education according to this approach. And education in industrial engineering is very hard.

There are advantages and disadvantages of this engineering just like other jobs. But the advantages of it are much higher than the disadvantages. In addition, they can work in various kinds of companies. Because, if there is research and development and production, industrial engineers are at the stage.

Also, this engineering is among the most paid jobs and engineering fields. Because their responsibilities are very hard in companies. They have a direct effect on the profits of a company.

These are the general aspects of this engineering. We tried to take a look at industrial engineering from the widest viewpoint.

Do not forget to leave your comments and questions below about this engineering. If you are an industrial engineer or an industrial engineering student, your comments and experiences are very important for us and the readers.

Your precious feedbacks are very important to us!

FAQs About Industrial Engineering

Who is the industrial engineer? 

An industrial engineer is a person who has an industrial engineering degree from an accredited school. Also, they are responsible for the operation and improvement of the manufacturing and products.

Which companies hire industrial engineers? 

 In general, most companies have industrial engineers if there is research and development and active production. Because there are lots of aspects to be improved by them.

What do industrial engineers do?

They are the improvements of manufacturing processes and the products to provide much more profits for the companies.

Is industrial engineering hard? 

Yes, it is a very hard topic. You need to work very hard to be an industrial engineer. Also, being professional is very hard.

Is industrial engineering in demand? 

Exactly. Because every company needs to enhance its profits. They are are generally directly responsible for this kind of thing.

What are the salaries of industrial engineers? 

The salaries are very good for industrial engineers. They can earn up to $100.000 per year in the US according to their experiences. Because of their hard responsibilities, companies pay very high.

Can industrial engineers work in finance?

Yes. Because industrial engineers are capable of most of the business and finance topics other than engineering topics. Also, engineering topics can be very advantageous background for this engineering.


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