Inside Industrial Engineer Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"School Is Good For Learning How To Think, Not How To Do Your Job...
What I am surprised about is how specialized each job is in a company. In school, I had engineering classes where you utilize certain lab equipment, or study certain disciplines. While these classes help you learn to think and evaluate, it is very rare that you will be doing or using the same techniques or equipment in actual work." (Manufacturing Engineer; 2013)

Career: 12 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Electrical Engineering at Lawrence Technological University in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2002

"Systems Engineering Is A Broad Field...
While working as a systems engineer, I have been surprised at how much knowledge I have gained about other fields of engineering. Systems engineering is a field that encompasses parts of many other types of engineering. I have also been surprised at home broad of a field systems engineering is. Some systems engineers work in information technology fields, while others work in testing, modeling and simulation, requirements definition, and/ or project management." (Systems Engineer; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Alabama, female
School: Studied Industrial & Systems Engineering at University Of Alabama In Huntsville in Alabama; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Managing Skills More Important Than Technical Skills...
I was surprised at how difficult it is to change the methods of production due to so much corporate control. It really prevents the rapid increase in productivity improvements that are possible." (Engineer; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, male
School: Studied Industrial And Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech in Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"I Hardly Use My College Learning At All...
I was surprised at how little of what I learned in college I actually use in my career. Sure, my jobs have required a little bit of basic engineering knowledge, but most of what I do just requires some solid common sense." (Project Manager; 2014)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, female
School: Studied Manufacturing Engineering at Rochester Institute Of Technology in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2004

"Amount Of Extra Over Time Allowed Is Great...
The first thing I was surprised about was the amount of over time that is allow during certain times of the year. You can almost work as much as you want if you are motivated to make the extra money. I was also surprised by the about of training that is required to maintain a high level of knowledge in this job, usually several hours per week." (Radiation Health Tech; 2014)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, male
School: Studied Nuclear Power at Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Math And Chemistry Used Heavily...
I was surprised at how technical my water treatment job turned out. I have to use mathematics and chemistry in my day to day duties." (Water Treatment Plant Operator; 2012)

Career: 25 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, male
School: Studied Water Treatment at Virginia Rural Water Association in Virginia; completed Certificate degree in 1987

"I was surprised that Industrial Engineering is not just an office job where you are working out plans. You must be very interactive and involved in the field and the workers so that you will be able to complete the job in the most satisfactory way possible. Being in the field and taking data and imagining how the new system could function is almost more important than the work done in the office doing calculations." (Industrial Engineer; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, male
School: Studied Industrial And Manufacturing Systems Engineering at University Of Missouri in Missouri; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

Best & Worst Things About This Career

President Of A Small Business: "The best part of the job is watching as products we worked on are successfully introduced to the market. It's very satisfying to know that we helped our clients introduce successful, profitable products which deliver benefits to the people who buy them. It is especially satisfying if we have made a major contribution to a product, as is often the case. The worst part of the job is dealing with clients who don't pay their bills on time. Fortunately, that is a rare problem for us." (2010)

Industrial Hygienist: "The best part of the job is the opportunity it gives me to evaluate workplaces and make corrections in order that the employees have a safety and health environment. I almost always have the sense that I am helping society by improving overall safety in the workplace. The worst part of the job is that I sometimes get to see fatalities and have to document how, why and when they happened. And interviewing relatives of the deceased or injured employees is sometimes hard." (2010)

Career Background

Industrial Engineer

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Career Video

Career Tips

"Government Employment Could Help A Lot...
Be ready to learn an awful lot of knowledge and be able to retain it well, it is used frequently during performance of the job. Government employment in this field could also open a lot of other doors down the road." (Radiation Health Tech; 2014)

"Learn To Network...
If you want to be successful in engineering, you have to learn how to network. Often, for us technical types, networking seems unimportant or even unsavory. However, it can mean the difference between a three month job search and a three day job search." (Project Manager; 2014)

"Successful Systems Engineers Need A Broad Knowledge Base...
If you want to be a successful systems engineer, you should be interested in learning about business principles including (possibly) procurement, cost accounting, and project management as well as engineering basics including (possibly) information technology, and software/hardware integration." (Systems Engineer; 2014)

"Public Speaking And Keeping An Open Mind Will Take You Far...
I would stay to work on your public speaking. Without good public speaking skills, you will find it hard to get your points across and lead your teams. Also, always keep an open mind. Do not be closed off to change in your environment." (Engineer; 2014)

"Work Experience Is Just As Valuable As Education...
On the job experience is the best way to get better at what you will be expected to do. If you don't have a job yet, use a company's website or talk to people already working to get a good idea of what the actual work is like." (Manufacturing Engineer; 2013)

"Know The Jobs NOT To Take...
To run a small consulting company you have to be comfortable doing any or all of the important jobs including sales, operations, finances, personnel and project management. It is important to know which work to refuse. Sometimes it is necessary to refuse work which is outside the area of our expertise. Other times it is necessary to refuse work because it is clear that the client would just be too difficult to work with. To retain customers and gain a positive reputation, it is essential to always put the customer's interests first." (President Of A Small Business; 2010)

"Strong Math And Science Background...
Be sure to study math, chemistry and physics. As an engineer I can do a lot of calculations that are very helpful during the inspections and investigations. Studying a second language has been very helpful to me, since I often have to interview employees who don't speak English. Being bilingual has opened a lot of doors for me." (Industrial Hygienist; 2010)