Pros and Cons of Becoming an Industrial Engineering Technician
Industrial engineering technicians use engineering principles to help businesses lower production costs and increase quality efficiency at work sites. Consider the pros and cons of a career in industrial engineering before pursuing a technician position in this field.
|Pros of an Industrial Engineering Technician Career|
|Associate's degree is enough for most positions*|
|Average salary slightly higher than the national average (about $56,000 in 2014)*|
|Technicians can work in a variety of fields and industries*|
|Industrial engineering technicians use a variety of methods to solve problems, which can keep work interesting*|
|Cons of an Industrial Engineering Technician Career|
|Sluggish job growth (-3% decline between 2012 and 2022)*|
|Must have a wide range of skills (computer software, communication, analytical and math skills)*|
|High level of responsibility (responsible for production and work flow)*|
|Travel to the work site is common in this field*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Essential Career Information
Job Description and Duties
Industrial engineering technicians study a manufacturer's complete operation process and develop plans to maximize quality. They use graphs, charts, formulas and observation to determine how to increase efficiency of workers, equipment and material usage.
As an industrial engineering technician, you'll usually work under the supervision of an industrial engineer. You'll likely travel study production techniques and consult with management on-site. You can work in a variety of settings, such as manufacturing plants or industrial facilities.
Salary and Job Prospects
Industrial engineering technicians earned an average annual salary of about $56,000 in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That same year, the BLS reported that industrial engineering technicians who provided support activities for air transportation saw the highest average salaries at roughly $83,000.
Job growth for industrial engineering technicians was expected to remain slow at -3% from 2012 to 2022, but your skills can allow you to work in other fields, such as supply chain or project management. Industrial engineering technicians can seek work in industries that include government, healthcare, research and development and consulting services.
What Are the Requirements?
Most industrial engineering technician jobs require an associate's degree from an ABET-accredited school or a certificate in industrial engineering technology for entry-level positions. Some jobs require a bachelor's degree in areas like applied science, industrial technology and industrial engineering technology. Some useful skills in this field include:
- Analytical skills
- Excellent problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
- Math skills
- Strong observation skills
- Excellent communication skills
Job Postings from Real Employers
Most employers were interested in industrial engineering technicians with a degree and some level of experience in the field. Some jobs required specialized skills, but this doesn't represent all positions. Here are a few examples of jobs listed in April 2012:
- An Oregon company advertised for a temporary 6-month industrial engineering technician to troubleshoot, provide technical support and analyze data among other tasks. Educations requirements were an associate's degree and two years of experience or five years of job experience without a degree. Some other qualifications included ability to work independently and knowledge of basic Lean concepts.
- A Cleveland manufacturing company looked for an industrial engineering technician with a bachelor's degree in engineering or math and a year of experience to observe and analyze production methods. Job duties included performing cost estimates, as well as using Methods-Time Measurement and time study to maximize efficiency.
- A power systems company in Wisconsin sought an industrial engineer to use Lean concepts to improve safety, productions, materials management and quality. Education requirements were an associate's or bachelor's degree and at least five years of experience were preferred. Qualifications included experience with AutoCAD, Pro-E and MS Office.
How to Stand Out in the Field
A bachelor's degree in an industrial engineering-related field can help you stand out, but you can also receive certification through the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). The NICET offers a technician and technologist certification programs, depending on your education level.
The technician certification requires recommendations, a written exam and work history. Some continuing education is needed to renew the certification. This certification demonstrates to employers that you are skilled and knowledgeable in the field of engineering technology.
Develop Related Skills
Many employers look for industrial engineering technicians with specialized skills. Some of the more common skills that employers look for are Auto-CAD and computer software skills. You can take training classes in drafting and computer software to hone those skills.
Excellent communication skills were listed as a requirement for industrial engineering technicians, so classes in written and oral communication can be beneficial to job seekers. Additional math courses may also be useful.
Alternative Career Paths
If you're interested in industrial engineering technology but you want to apply your skills to theory rather than implementation, a career as an industrial engineer may be right for you. Industrial engineers usually work in an office or travel to work sites to improve manufacturing quality and production. They often direct and oversee the work of industrial engineering technicians.
Most positions require at least a bachelor's degree. You could see a higher salary, as well as a slightly larger growth in employment as an engineer. The BLS reported that industrial engineers earned an average salary of $80,000 in 2011 and predicted a six percent employment growth from 2010-2020.
Quality Control Inspector
If you want to enforce quality standards but the educational requirements of an industrial engineering technician are too much, a career as a quality control inspector might be right for you. Quality control inspectors test the quality of products and monitor their production to ensure they meet safety and quality specifications.
They can work in a variety of industries and most entry-level positions only require a high school diploma. The median hourly wage for quality control inspectors was $16.00 in 2010 and job growth will remain slower than the average at a predicted eight percent increase between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS. Training in the field could improve an aspiring quality control inspector's chance of employment.