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Industrial engineering can entail a wide variety of things, so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what to expect on the job or even what is fair compensation. Here are some job profiles that will give you an idea of how varied this profession can be:
Healthcare Management Engineer
The healthcare industry is a very interesting and exciting area where industrial engineers play an integral role. Often called "management engineers" as opposed to industrial engineers, these professionals act as internal or external consultants to hospitals and other healthcare systems.
Their main role is to be problem solvers who have a well-established understanding of the industry.
Projects can include everything from determining staffing levels to implementing new technology to streamlining office processes. While pay is competitive with other industries, expect a lower-than-average salary if you are working for a nonprofit.
"Lean" is a popular business practice of reducing waste so that what you are left with are only value-adding processes and activities. Lean coordinators are found in all types of industries, but most commonly in manufacturing.
Duties include lean training and various lean implementation tasks related to process improvement, cost reduction, and workplace organization. A lean coordinator identifies areas for improvement, and then leads a team in making improvements. For example, a lean coordinator may notice a bottleneck in part of the production line due to a cluttered environment; the lean coordinator would then plan a more effective layout and implement the idea.
Theme Park Industrial Engineer
Industrial engineers generally work in theme parks as internal consultants. Much like other industrial engineers, these engineers are asked to assist in solving issues and streamlining processes.
One aspect of industrial engineering in a theme park is being part of the development of a new product or attraction. For those types of projects, industrial engineers are consulted to determine the best process for launching the product or the best way to take a guest through the attraction.
Another important aspect of industrial engineering is understanding and analyzing guest flow to better balance the guest population throughout the park.
Supply Chain Solutions Engineer
These industrial engineers are quickly growing in numbers, as companies understand how valuable they are to save money. Their focus is to determine the best way to arrange people, organizations, information, technology, and activities to move a product or service from the supplier to the customer. To do this, supply chain solution engineers must analyze costs, processes, materials, and technology to determine the logistics to maximize profits and customer satisfaction. For industrial engineers just getting started in their careers, this is an ideal area because it is growing and in high demand.
Quality Assurance Engineer
Quality assurance engineers are found in almost every manufacturing industry, and their main task is to ensure that products are consistently high quality. Quality engineers' objectives are to determine the level of quality, what areas of a process are disrupting quality, and how to resolve those quality issues. An engineer must do all these things through audits to make sure the process is standardized and low-cost. Some quality issues that these engineers concern themselves with include strength of a product and product lifecycle.
Many industrial engineers of all types eventually find themselves in the position of project manager. As project managers, industrial engineers are in charge of coordinating a team to accomplish a set of objectives.
The project manager will assign responsibilities to team members and monitor the project's progress. It is also the project manager's responsibility to act as a problem solver. Industrial engineers make excellent project managers since they possess an understanding of many different engineering disciplines, and tend to have good leadership and people skills.
What makes industrial engineering such a broad field is that its goal is to optimize processes and systems by finding ways to save time, money, energy, and materials across a range of industries. This is done by leading the implementation of business strategies, such as 5S, Lean, Supply Chain Management, and Six Sigma.
It is often said that the goal of industrial engineering is to take what other engineers have done and make it better. Industrial engineers can be found in almost every industry: manufacturing, logistics,
entertainment, hospitality, service, healthcare, energy, and aerospace, to name a few. Within each of these industries, industrial engineers may find themselves working on a variety of projects, such as: