One of the advantages of a career in engineering is that the work of engineers keeps modern day societies moving. This means that there will always be work for engineers, including manufacturing engineers. The salaries in engineering are generally quite good, in part reflecting a shortage of professionals in engineering in the United States compared to other industrialized countries. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not predict strong growth of jobs in this field, the manufacturing engineer salary should remain strong.
The work engineers in this specialty are closely tied to that of engineers in a related specialty, the field of industrial engineering. Although data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not always indicate why job growth in a particular is strong or weak compared to other industries, it is possible that a shift away from manufacturing jobs towards more service-oriented industries may be surfacing in the relatively slow predicted growth in this industry compared to the national average across all careers.
Job Duties and Responsibilities
There are many specialized careers within the wider field of engineering, and students considering a career in engineering should possess certain strengths as well as a strong background in specific academic areas. This highly specialized field combines some of the general aspects of engineering with the specifics of the industrial manufacturing arena, which may require an understanding of business and accounting.
Certain skills will help students interested in manufacturing engineering as a career achieve success in their educational studies and training as well as later on in their careers. Possession of these skills may also help in earning a manufacturing engineer salary on the higher end of the spectrum which will be discussed in a later section. Although many skills are important in manufacturing or industrial engineering, the following are significant:
Manufacturing engineers are involved in various aspects of the manufacturing process, and their importance is reflected in the manufacturing engineer salary. Manufacturing engineers design, implement and manage all stages of the manufacturing process. This means that everything from designing, ordering, planning, and implementing the machinery that allows a product to be created, shipped, or integrated into a factory or other industrial setting has a role for these professionals. This also means that these professionals have a wide variety of tasks that they will be expected to perform.
Education will be discussed in the next section, but the level of educational training will impact the type of roles that professionals in this industry can expect to find employment in. In particular, roles that involve computer manufacturing, integrated manufacturing, or research and teaching may require a master’s or doctoral degree, not unlike in other engineering or hard science subjects.
As mentioned previously, because there is an economic component to the industrial and manufacturing arts, manufacturing engineers may benefit from an understanding of or explicit training in business, finance, accounting, and the like. These engineers will be expected to help implement practices in the manufacturing field that lead to the low-cost and efficient production of various products and goods for use in the industry or outside of it, by the general public.
These are the expectations for manufacturing and industrial engineers in terms of skills and on-the-job abilities, but in reality, these engineers occupy an often interdisciplinary role and may wear many hats. The following is a list of some of the roles that may be occupied by these engineers, listed by job title:
There are often various levels within each specialized area of the field, and the manufacturing engineer salary naturally increases as employees achieve higher levels within their specific job title. It may surprise many to learn how interesting some of the manufacturing processes these engineers are involved in are. In reality, this should not be surprising as these engineers can play a role in any product that requires manufacturing, whether it be toys, computers, weapons, or any of a host of other manufactured goods.
As clear from the list above, these engineers can eventually branch out to other roles like management of other engineers and workers, and direction of work sites, offices, and facilities. This allows these engineers to expand in their responsibility as they acquire more years on the job while also retaining their highly specialized knowledge by still remaining close to the industry.
A large number of engineers in manufacturing work in private industry, which should not be surprising considering the commercial nature of the work that they do. In their capacity as employees of private companies providing an important technical and oversight role, manufacturing engineers can expect to be engaged in the following activities:
In terms of the career outlook for this profession, many of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the United States employ large teams of manufacturing and industrial engineers, companies like Lockheed Martin, Ford Motor Company, and General Electric. This means that there will always be work for these talented professionals and the manufacturing engineer salary should remain robust.
The basic requirement for a career in this specialized field of engineering is a bachelor’s degree. This is a requirement that this industry shares with other fields in science and engineering that it overlaps with, like civil engineering and mechanical engineering. Students considering pursuing a future in the field of manufacturing engineering have many schools to choose from, with programs in this area available across the country. Students should have a strong background in math, electronics, science, and should possess strong analytical skills to gain entry into a manufacturing engineering undergraduate program.
Like most technical fields within the wider realm of science and engineering, there are numerous graduate training programs available for manufacturing engineers, including a master’s degree and doctoral degree programs. These allow students and working professionals to gain advanced knowledge and more specialized training within their field. This can open more doors in terms of obtaining a desired or competitive position as well as increase the potential manufacturing engineer salary.
Salary will be discussed in greater detail in the next section, but it is influenced by many factors of which years of experience in a particular specialized area is among the more important ones. Employment in this industry requires a bachelor’s degree, and students should be aware that programs in the United States are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission. Education at the undergraduate level should provide a solid footing in the following areas:
Many positions within this industry will require advanced degrees and many colleges and universities have departments with programs leading to a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in manufacturing or industrial engineering. As stated above, graduate programs will provide the student with more specialized training in areas like a computer simulation, but may also include classes in business management, or the other aspects of the field that are important for a successful career.
Manufacturing Engineer Salary
It is important to have an understanding of normal salaries within any given profession when considering a potential career and manufacturing and industrial engineering is no different. Many students take these considerations into account when weighing the relative costs and benefits that come with education, years of training, and the like. Although salary is important, it is not the only factor to take into account, and this may be especially true in this field where salaries may not be as high as they are in other fields where the workers have similar backgrounds and training.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, the average salary for manufacturing and industrial engineers id about $83,000, although starting salary for new entrants into the workforce is lower. Entry-level manufacturing engineers make in the range of $58,000 to $70,000. As with any profession, a number of variables impact the salaries that workers receive and in the case of this field of engineering, factors like experience, geographic location, education, and specific company in which the employee is employed appear to be among the more important factors.
There are many variables to consider when deciding which field to study or when making a career change and factors like manufacturing engineer salary are just one of several. Some aspects of this industry may be attractive to new entrants. Because manufacturing remains an important part of the national economy, there will always be manufacturing jobs available, including jobs in engineering. Also, as many of the highest-earning corporations in this country are in the field of manufacturing, this career does give the impression of stability, even if lukewarm job growth is expected in the next ten years.