Due to in part to growth in the renewable energy, oil and gas, and robotics industries, the engineering field is growing rapidly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for architecture and engineering specialists will grow 7% from 2016 to 2026. This translates to close to 200,000 new jobs, mostly for engineers. If you are interested in engineering, and you want to take advantage of this boom, you should strongly consider earning a master's degree in industrial engineering.
Industrial engineers work to optimize operations, promote efficient practices, and streamline workflows. They apply engineering concepts to all types of businesses and organizations with the aim of maximizing efficiency and eliminating waste. For this reason, industrial engineers possess the flexibility to excel in a variety of industries, organizations, and settings.
Should I Get a Master's in Industrial Engineering?
If you want to apply engineering skills to complex issues in manufacturing, efficiency, and productivity, you can benefit greatly from a master's degree in industrial engineering. This degree can propel you into a variety of engineering-oriented careers by teaching you essential skills in mathematics, management, and logistics.
Industrial engineering students learn to optimize efficiency in a variety of businesses. They gain an understanding of common manufacturing processes, warehousing systems, and distribution methods. Learners develop the quantitative and qualitative reasoning skills necessary to evaluate these systems and propose improvements. Master's programs in industrial engineering also build on the skills and concepts students learned through their undergraduate engineering programs.
An industrial engineering master's degree also provides nonacademic benefits. Enrolling in a master's program can help you make connections within the field and ultimately land a job. Most schools host job fairs that allow students to meet with potential employers and learn about available careers. Career advisers can help with your job search, look over your resume, and give mock interviews. In addition, having a master of industrial engineering degree boosts your credentials and increases your professional competitiveness down the line.
If you just finished your undergraduate degree or prefer the structure of in-person learning, you may want to apply to on-campus programs. Online degrees usually appeal more to working professionals or individuals looking for a career change.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Industrial Engineering?
A master's degree in industrial engineering prepares you to work in many roles and industries. Graduates looking to take on leadership roles can enter management jobs in factories and businesses. Those not interested in overseeing employees might prefer more analytics- or engineering-oriented jobs as logisticians or industrial engineers. Over time, these workers often lead a team or a division. Graduates may also find work outside of factories and manufacturing plants. Industrial engineering programs help students develop the skills they need to excel in large corporations, healthcare systems, and a host of other organizations.
- Industrial Engineer
Industrial engineers streamline production processes in a variety of fields. They create and implement systems that organize a business's employees, machines, materials, and vendors. Industrial engineers maximize an organization's efficiency by eliminating waste and unnecessary costs. Master's degree holders can find jobs as high-level industrial engineers.
Median Annual Salary: $85,880*
- Architectural and Engineering Manager
These professionals manage and coordinate daily operations in architectural and engineering companies. They purchase equipment, hire employees, and oversee the development of new products. They also create budgets and determine long-term goals for the firm. An industrial engineering master's program can provide the analytical and organizational skills needed to excel in this role.
Median Annual Salary: $137,720*
Logisticians manage an organization's supply chain and oversee a product's life cycle from manufacturing to disposal. They allocate raw materials, manage inventory, arrange distribution, and ensure proper disposal. Logisticians also evaluate and adjust systems in order to cut costs and maximize efficiency.
Median Annual Salary: $74,590*
- Health and Safety Engineer
These engineers implement systems and measures that prevent workplace injury and illness. They ensure that workers use chemicals, machinery, and equipment correctly so as not to injure themselves or damage company property. Through industrial engineering master's programs, aspiring health and safety engineers can gain a deep understanding of common manufacturing processes.
Median Annual Salary: $88,510*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Master's Program in Industrial Engineering
With so many great schools to choose from, many prospective master's students find it difficult to decide which industrial engineering master's program to attend. Prospective students should take several factors into account when choosing a master's in industrial engineering program, including cost, length, and available courses.
First, determine how much time you plan on committing to your master's program. Some programs expect students to study full time, while others also accept part-time students. A few schools offer accelerated courses and summer sessions for students who want to graduate quickly. In addition, working professionals often prefer online master's in industrial engineering programs, since these programs generally offer more flexibility than their on-campus counterparts. Be sure to apply to programs that fit your particular lifestyle and time constraints.
You should also consider what academic features you prefer in a program. If you would like to pursue a specialization such as supply chain management or mechanical engineering, look for programs that offer those options. You also might consider prioritizing programs that offer interesting electives. If you learn best through hands-on projects, keep an eye out for programs that incorporate a practicum or other workplace experience.
Also consider location. Where you choose to study may impact your living costs, quality of life, and employment opportunities. You may wish to study in a state that supports the industry you plan to enter after graduation.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master's Programs in Industrial Engineering
Before applying to any program, be sure to check that it is properly accredited. Accreditation indicates that a program consistently meets high academic standards. In order to maintain accreditation, schools must agree to regular evaluations. Attending an accredited program can help ensure that you will receive a high quality education. If you want other universities and future employers to recognize your degree, you must study at an accredited school. Only students who attend accredited institutions can qualify for federal financial aid.
Some organizations only accredit programs in specific disciplines. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) reviews engineering programs in the U.S., including industrial engineering master's programs. Students should prioritize ABET-accredited programs, since these programs have a proven track record of providing an excellent engineering education.
Master's in Industrial Engineering Program Admissions
Once you find some programs you like, you can begin the process of applying. Admissions requirements vary for each program, but most schools require the same general forms and materials. Every school requires an application. While each school's form is slightly different, all applications ask you to fill out personal information and answer some basic questions. Graduate programs in industrial engineering typically assess applicants based on transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation. Students often spend more time and energy applying to online programs than on-campus programs.
Be sure to apply to several schools; this increases the chances that at least one will accept you. Start researching and compiling a list of your preferred programs early on. Make sure to include some safety schools, some target schools, and some reach schools.
- Bachelor's Degree: All schools require applicants to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Most schools require a degree in an engineering-related field, as well as foundational engineering and mathematics coursework.
- Professional Experience: Some programs require one or more years of work experience. However, many schools accept students who do not have any work experience.
- Minimum GPA: Industrial engineering master's programs typically require a GPA of around 3.0. However, students can often offset a lower GPA through another requirement.
- Application: Each school requires candidates to fill out an application with basic personal information. These forms typically do not take much time to complete.
- Transcripts: Industrial engineering master's programs usually ask for transcripts from all previous colleges or universities. Some schools provide transcripts for free, while others charge a modest fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: Applicants need to obtain approximately three letters of recommendation from previous professors, advisers, or supervisors. Be sure to ask for recommendations well in advance of any application deadlines.
- Test Scores: Most master's programs in industrial engineering require applicants to submit GRE scores. Foreign students may need to submit TOEFL scores as well. Some universities post average GRE scores on their websites.
- Application Fee: Application fees for graduate programs typically fall between $50 and $100. Some institutions waive application fees for low-income applicants.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Industrial Engineering?
Every industrial engineering master's program boasts its own requirements, courses, and features. Programs vary with respect to cost, length, and location. While specifics are different from school to school, this section provides a general overview of what to expect from a master's program in industrial engineering.
|Operations Research||This concentration focuses on the use of scientific methods to analyze and improve management techniques and strategies. Courses teach students how to solve operations issues and evaluate risk using mathematical models and simulations. Students learn how to apply statistics, mathematics, and probability to business situations.||Industrial engineer, industrial production manager, management analyst|
|Logistics and Transportation Systems Engineering||In this popular concentration, students gain a deep understanding of the manufacturing supply chain. The concentration incorporates coursework in facility design, traffic flow, and inventory management. Learners examine common supply chain models in order to master techniques for organizing, distributing, and transporting manufactured goods.||Logistician, industrial engineer, supply chain manager|
|Quality Engineering and Management||This field focuses on techniques for achieving and maintaining high quality manufacturing. Students develop the quantitative reasoning skills they need to evaluate the reliability and overall quality of manufactured goods. Students also learn to assess manufacturing processes and develop solutions to persistent problems. Courses cover fundamental topics in quality control and engineering.||Quality engineer, quality assurance manager, industrial engineer|
|Engineering Management||Students in this specialization develop skill and techniques for managing a department or team of engineers. This concentration typically includes coursework in finance, accounting, and operations management. Students learn how to supervise employees, coordinate between departments, manage budgets, and improve productivity.||Architectural and engineering manager, industrial engineering manager|
|Manufacturing Systems||Students interested in designing, analyzing, and overseeing manufacturing systems may choose to concentrate in this area. This specialization typically includes courses in manufacturing systems and infrastructures. Students may also study specific manufacturing processes such as automotive engineering or automation.||Logistician, industrial production manager, architectural and engineering manager|
Courses in a Master's in Industrial Engineering Program
Industrial engineering master's programs typically feature core courses in manufacturing, plant design, and logistics. However, specific topics, electives, perspectives, and areas of focus vary depending on which program you choose.
- Quality Control and Improvement
This course introduces fundamental topics in quality assurance and quality management. Students learn how to evaluate a product's quality using common tools such as control charts. The course also covers various techniques for identifying production issues and making improvements. Aspiring industrial production managers and industrial engineers find this course particularly useful.
- Facility Planning and Design
Well-designed facilities are crucial to a business's long-term competitiveness and success. This course provides an overview of how facility design impacts manufacturing and processes. Students discuss site selection, factory layout, storage planning, and other fundamental topics.
- Manufacturing Systems
Through this course, students gain an understanding of the various manufacturing systems and processes that companies use. Learners analyze different methods for planning production, managing inventory, and navigating issues. This course prepares students for careers as logisticians, industrial engineers, and industrial production managers.
- Transportation and Supply Chain Systems
This course provides valuable information to future logisticians and industrial engineers. Students learn to oversee the life cycle of a product by gaining skills in demand management, vehicle routing, and distribution planning. Students also gain an understanding of the systems that support product distribution and transportation.
- Warehousing Systems
This course introduces common warehousing systems, strategies, and concepts. Students also discuss optimal warehouse layout and design. Learners develop valuable skills in materials handling, order picking, and warehouse management.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Industrial Engineering?
Every master's program in industrial engineering is different, but most take around two years to complete. However, program specifics and your learning preferences can affect the length of your particular program. Most programs require approximately 30 credits of coursework, comprised of around 10 courses. Programs with more credits may take longer to finish. Additionally, thesis requirements or other independent research projects may lengthen your course of study.
If you work full time or have other commitments, some schools allow you to take fewer courses each semester. Part-time students can expect to earn a master's degree in three years or more. On the other hand, if you would like to graduate more quickly, you may be able to load up on extra credits, take accelerated courses, or enroll in summer terms.
How Much Is a Master's in Industrial Engineering?
The amount you pay for your industrial engineering degree depends greatly on the program you choose. Program tuition is usually between $10,000 and $40,000. Generally, public institutions charge less than private universities. If you earn your degree through a public university in your state of residence, you may save thousands of dollars on tuition.
You should also consider additional costs. For example, most universities charge fees on top of tuition, including a delivery fee or technology fee for online courses. Course materials constitute another necessary expense, and you may have to purchase several textbooks for each class. Make sure to also factor in the cost of rent, utilities, and other essential living expenses.
You can offset the costs of earning a degree by obtaining scholarships, grants, and other financial aid.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Industrial Engineering Prepares For
- Certified Professional in Supply Management
Offered by the Institute for Supply Management, this certification indicates that the holder has reached a high degree of competency in the supply management field. In order to qualify, candidates must have a bachelor's degree and three years of full-time supply management experience.
- Professional Engineer License
State licensure boards grant this voluntary license to experienced engineers working in many industries. To obtain this certification, candidates must earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited engineering program, work for four years under a licensed professional engineer, and pass two exams. Some companies require certain employees to become licensed.
- Certified Quality Engineer
This certification verifies that the holder possesses a deep understanding of quality control techniques and principles. Certified quality engineers have mastered essential strategies for evaluating and analyzing products and processes. The certification requires at least three years of work experience and a master's degree.
Resources for Graduate Industrial Engineering Students
The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers publishes this technical journal, which features engineering, science, and mathematics research. Industrial engineering students can use this journal to conduct academic research.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology maintains this academic database of over 17 million items. Using Inspec, students can conduct research and keep up-to-date on research developments in engineering and physics.
This biannual journal seeks to advance the industrial engineering field by publishing theoretical and empirical research. The journal includes articles on topics such as logistics, quality management, and production planning.
Since the 1950s, this journal has provided operations research students and professionals with important research and findings. The journal focuses on the science and data behind optimal decision making.
This research database allows master's students to locate and access academic literature on engineering and related topics. The database provides free access to over 4.5 million bibliographic records and abstracts.
Professional Organizations in Industrial Engineering
Professional organizations provide industrial engineering students and recent graduates with valuable career development and continuing education opportunities. For example, the National Society of Professional Engineers provides access to live webinars, educational events, and on-demand courses. Many organizations also maintain career centers that connect recent graduates with relevant job postings. These resources can help aspiring engineers jumpstart their careers and stand out among job candidates.