Industrial engineering centers on process—professionals analyze systems and organizations to eliminate the waste of time, resources, and energy. To be more specific, they design and implement systems that better synthesize workers, resources, time, money, and energy to produce value. This unique ability to combine physical and social sciences to produce effective organizational processes has made industrial engineers invaluable to companies and institutions.
That said, design successful systems with so many moving parts is easier said than done. Enter industrial engineering master’s programs. Students in these programs gain the opportunity to take advanced courses in key subjects such as production, quality control, and worker safety. The intensive material of the courses also provide students time to critically examine problems and the solutions they create to identify room for improvement. By the time of graduation, students become experts at analyzing and synthesizing the successful parts of the processes they examine to create innovative and evolving iterations.
There has never been a better time to invest in an industrial engineering degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that positions will grow at a rate of 10% which is faster than average for other jobs. That means graduates can expect stable and fulfilling careers that consistently challenge them to use their skills in creative ways.
What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s Industrial Engineering Program?
Industrial engineers work in nearly every industry and strive to maximize production, streamline processes and eliminate waste. An online master’s in industrial engineering provides you with specialized training in all these areas, enabling you to work for any company looking for strategies to improve production and quality control. Earning your degree online offers a flexible alternative to on-campus programs and individually paced programs let you complete coursework at your convenience. This is an ideal situation for those already working in the engineering field looking to enhance their skills and improve their chances for advancement. Industrial engineering graduate programs differ from one school to another, so compare curriculum, concentration, program delivery and overall degree requirements to find the program that best fits your personal, professional and educational goals.
Degrees Offered for an Online Master’s in Industrial Engineering
Many schools only offer industrial engineering as a concentration within a general engineering master’s degree program. When industrial engineering is offered as its own online master’s program, you can choose from concentrations directly related to the industrial engineering field. Each concentration can also be specialized to further customize your program to match your career goals.
|CONCENTRATION||DESCRIPTION||CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR|
|Information Systems Engineering||Concentrations in information systems engineering prepare you to work in computer-related fields and cover the design and implementation of computer systems, including integration of these systems, processes and data feeds into an organization’s existing platforms.||Software engineer, information systems engineer, database manager|
|Mechanical Engineering||Mechanical engineering concentrations cover the design, development, manufacture and maintenance of anything with moving parts, including engineering materials, solid and fluid mechanics, product design, control systems, thermodynamics and robotics.||Mechanical engineer, electromechanical engineer, industrial engineer, manufacturing engineer, automotive engineer|
|Operations Management||An operations management concentration develops your managerial skills and teaches you to apply them to improve operations in manufacturing and service firms. Courses cover business strategy, technology and supply chain networks with emphasis on knowledge management.||Operations manager, operations consultant, technical consultant, operations analyst|
|Engineering Project Management||A concentration in engineering project management applies industrial and systems engineering skills to programs found in various industries and teaches management skills with direct experience in managing and executing a project.||Project manager, quality control engineer|
|Manufacturing Process Engineering||Concentrations in manufacturing process engineering cover traditional and non-traditional manufacturing processes, including primary, secondary, finishing and assembly processes.||Manufacturing engineer, industrial engineer, mechanical engineer, materials engineer|
Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Industrial Engineering
Many online master’s in industrial engineering programs offer a thesis or non-thesis track. Curriculum varies based on your concentration, which you can customize to fit your career goals. Core coursework also varies by school, but the list below offers a sample of common courses in online industrial engineering master’s program.
|Manufacturing Systems||Examines various types of operations, including topics on manufacturing inventories, lot sizes and lead times, aggregate production planning, pull production systems and analysis of bottlenecks and queuing.|
|Warehousing systems||Design and analysis of materials handling systems, including order picking, warehousing inventories, warehouse layout and management systems and the integration of production and distribution systems.|
|Supply Chain Systems Operation||Integrating and accelerating the flow of materials and information throughout the process of supplying goods and services, including distribution planning, vehicle routing, replenishment management and demand planning.|
|Regression Analysis||How dependent and independent variables interact and how proposed changes affect a company’s future, which applies in every industrial engineering career.|
|Inventory Systems||Covers inventory management, including computerized procedures and materials requirements planning.|
|Lean Manufacturing||Basic principles and theories of lean manufacturing, including integrated approaches to efficient manufacturing and identifying and eliminating design, production and supply chain management activities that don’t add value to the process.|
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Industrial Engineering?
The time it takes to complete your industrial engineering online master’s degree program depends on many factors because each program is unique. Some programs are offered completely online, but others are hybrid programs that divides coursework between online and on-campus study. Programs are also offered asynchronously, which include self-paced classes you take whenever you want, or synchronously, which are cohort-based and require you to take classes at a set time and pace. Individually paced programs offered on an accelerated rate let you finish the quickest. Most online master’s degree programs in industrial engineering require an average of 30 credits to graduate, which you can complete in two years when studying full-time. Part-time students may take three or more years to finish the same degree.
The total credit hours in your program also affects completion time. On average, a 30-credit hour program can be completed in two to three semesters when pursued full-time and four to five semesters studying part-time. Many online master’s in reading and literacy programs require 32 to 36 credits and take two years to complete
Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Industrial Engineering Prepares For
|Certified Manufacturing Technologist or Certified Manufacturing Engineer||Your master’s in industrial engineering helps prepare you for entry-level certification as a Certified Manufacturing Technologist or, for those in leadership positions, certification as a Certified Manufacturing Engineer. Both certifications are recognized and respected industry credentials offered through the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.|
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Industrial Engineering Degrees
When comparing schools, verify it’s accredited to ensure your eligibility for financial aid through the government and private sources and that the program qualifies for certification purposes. The college or university should hold regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation being more respected. Regional accreditation is earned through an agency recognized by the Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to institutional accreditation, some engineering programs are also accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
Employment Outlook for Master’s in Industrial Engineering Graduates
Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s
An advanced degree in industrial engineering makes you a more attractive job applicant, which can help you snag a job quickly. It can also help you climb the ladder faster and earn a higher salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a comparison of all workers in every job field showed that those with a master’s degree had median weekly earnings of $1,521 in 2018 while those with a bachelor’s degree earned $1,198 weekly. In regards to industrial and manufacturing engineers specifically, Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce reported that professionals with a master’s degree earned a median annual salary of $101,000 in 2015 while those with a bachelor’s earned $81,000.
The salary you can expect as an industrial engineer varies based on the industry you work in and any specializations you pursue. Compare the following salary ranges for popular careers in industry engineering to get an idea of salary expectations.
As you gain experience as an industrial engineer, your salary increases. This is true in several career paths related to industrial engineering as the following chart demonstrates. Take note that even entry-level positions offer a higher than average salary when compared to the BLS reported mean wage for all occupations and education levels across the nation, which was $50,620 in 2017.
Average Wage vs Experience Level in a Variety of Engineering Fields
Figures Reported in US Dollars
Online industrial engineering master’s degree program graduates are qualified to work in a variety of fields. Your advanced education prepares you for a career in numerous industries with plenty of room for advancement in most positions. As you advance in your career, you take on more responsibility, which leads to extra job duties and a higher salary.
|JOB TITLE||JOB DESCRIPTION||MEDIAN SALARY||PROJECTED GROWTH RATE|
|Industrial Engineering Technician||Industrial engineering technicians assist industrial engineers; together they devise efficient systems to integrate materials and machines to manufacture products or provide services. Technicians prepare machinery and equipment layouts and plan workflows while also conducting statistical production studies and analyzing production costs.||$54,280 per year||1%|
|Industrial Engineer||Industrial engineers find ways to maximize production, streamline processes and eliminate waste and work in nearly every industry. They devise efficient systems of operation, develop management control systems and quality control procedures to resolve production problems and minimize costs and ensure products meet quality standards.||$85,880 per year||10%|
|Industrial Production Manager||Industrial production managers analyze data to improve production speed and overall safety at manufacturing plants. They also oversee daily operations and perform quality control processes to ensure finished products meet appropriate levels of quality.||$100,580 per year||-1%|
|Materials Engineer||Materials engineers develop materials used to create a wide array of products in nearly every industry. They create new materials or improve existing materials that meet specific electrical, mechanical and chemical requirements, which includes studying the properties of plastics, composites, ceramics, metals, nanomaterials and other substances.||$94,610 per year||2%|
|Health and Safety Engineer||Health and safety engineers implement programs to increase employee safety by developing procedures and systems to protect workers from injuries and illnesses and protect property from damage.||$88,510 per year||9%|
Whether you’re a seasoned industrial engineer, new to the field or a student at any level of education, joining professional organizations offers many advantages. Professional organizations provide you with the resources you need at every stage in your career to keep current on the ever-changing technology and trends in industrial engineering and make valuable connections with other professionals.
Society of Manufacturing Engineers: Membership in the SME allows you to connect with peers, gain valuable knowledge related to industrial engineering technology and participate in leadership opportunities. Some of the many other benefits include a professional monthly magazine, customized research assistance, online networking, industry-recognized certification, job board and career advice, conferences and trade shows and peer-reviewed journals and tech papers.
Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers: IISE is a global association for professionals specializing in industrial engineering, health care, ergonomics and other related professions. Membership offers networking, training, conferences and other events, industry-leading publications, a career center and numerous other resources that contribute to your professional success throughout your career.
Society of Women Engineers Scholarships: SWE is an inclusive organization specifically for women in engineering and technical careers that offers awards and recognition programs, education and outreach activities, scholarship opportunities, national and regional education conferences, networking and professional development opportunities, an online career center, professional publications, seminars, workshops and leadership training.
Financing Your Online Master’s in Industrial Engineering Degree
Earning your degree online is relatively affordable, but many industrial engineering graduate students still need help financing their education. To learn which grants, loans and other forms of financial aid you qualify for through the federal government, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Many colleges and universities also use this form to establish your eligibility for financial assistance offered through the school or engineering department. Industrial engineering students earning their master’s degree may also discover private scholarships offered by companies, nonprofits and other sources. The resources below offer more information about funding your advanced education in industrial engineering.