Day in the Life
graduates usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers
and, in large companies, also may receive formal classroom or
seminar-type training. As new engineers gain knowledge and experience,
they are assigned more difficult projects with greater independence to
develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions. Engineers may
advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a staff or team
of engineers and technicians. Some may eventually become engineering
managers or enter other managerial or sales jobs.
Almost all jobs in engineering require some sort of interaction with
coworkers. Whether they are working in a team situation, or just asking
for advice, most engineers have to have the ability to communicate and
work with other people. Engineers should be creative, inquisitive,
analytical, and detail-oriented. They should be able to work as part of
a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing.
Communication abilities are important because engineers often interact
with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.
engineers determine the most effective ways to use the basic factors
of production -- people, machines, materials, information, and
energy -- to make a product or to provide a service. They are the
bridge between management goals and operational performance. They
are more concerned with increasing productivity through the
management of people, methods of business organization, and
technology than are engineers in other specialties, who generally
work more with products or processes. Although most industrial
engineers work in manufacturing industries, they may also work in
consulting services, healthcare, and communications.
To solve organizational, production, and related problems most
efficiently, industrial engineers carefully study the product and
its requirements, use mathematical methods such as operations
research to meet those requirements, and design manufacturing and
information systems. They develop management control systems to aid
in financial planning and cost analysis and design production
planning and control systems to coordinate activities and ensure
product quality. They also design or improve systems for the
physical distribution of goods and services. Industrial engineers
determine which plant location has the best combination of raw
materials availability, transportation facilities, and costs.
Industrial engineers use computers for simulations and to control
various activities and devices, such as assembly lines and robots.
They also develop wage and salary administration systems and job
evaluation programs. Many industrial engineers move into management
positions because the work is closely related.
The work of health and safety engineers is similar to that of
industrial engineers in that it deals with the entire production
process. Health and safety engineers promote worksite or product
safety and health by applying knowledge of industrial processes, as
well as mechanical, chemical, and psychological principles. They
must be able to anticipate, recognize, and evaluate hazardous
conditions as well as develop hazard control methods. They also must
be familiar with the application of health and safety regulations.
Six in 10
industrial engineers are employed in manufacturing
industries, and an additional 1 in 10 worked in professional,
scientific, and technical services firms, many of whom provide
consulting services to manufacturing firms. Because their skills can
be used in almost any type of organization, industrial engineers are
more widely distributed among industries than are other engineers.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.