Industrial engineers determine the most effective ways for an organization to use the basic factors of production -- people, machines, materials, information, and energy. They bridge the gap between management and operations, and are more concerned with people and methods of career organization than are engineers in other specialties, who generally work more with products or processes.
To solve organizational, production, and related problems most efficiently, industrial engineers design data processing systems and apply mathematical analysis such as operations research. They also develop management control systems to aid in financial planning and cost analysis, design production planning control systems to coordinate activities and control product quality, and design or improve systems for the physical distribution of goods and services. Industrial engineers conduct surveys to find plant locations with the best combination of raw materials, transportation, and taxes. 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.
Industrial engineers held about 121,000 jobs in 1990; over 4 out of 5 jobs were in manufacturing industries. Because their skills can be used in almost any type of organization, industrial engineers are more widely distributed among industries than other engineers. For example, some even work for insurance companies, banks, hospitals, and retail organizations. Some work for government agencies or are independent consultants.
Employment opportunities for industrial engineers are expected to be good; their employment is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through the year 2000. Most job openings, however, will result from the need to replace industrial engineers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.
Industrial growth, more complex career operations, and the greater use of automation both in factories and in offices underlie the projected employment growth. Jobs also will be created as firms seek to reduce costs and increase productivity through scientific management and safety engineering.
Sources of Additional Information
Institute of Industrial Engineers, Inc., 25 Technology Park/ Atlanta, Norcross, GA 30092.