You did it. You waited to hear your name called, walked across the stage and posed for a picture with Dr. Swann. You earned your industrial engineering degree from NC State which is a noteworthy accomplishment. If you haven’t already landed one, you will need a plan to find one of those lucrative industrial engineering jobs.
The Good News
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median industrial engineer earned $87,040 per year in 2018. They also predict that the demand for industrial engineers over the next decade will grow at a rate of eight percent compared to other jobs in the United States.
So, what are some best practices you can use to get your first industrial engineering job? Here are four.
1. Network, Network, Network
Networking is an essential part of getting a job. So, supercharge your networking skills. Professional organizations such as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers hold networking events and are a great place to meet fellow industrial engineers in your area. Once there, find a mentor that can give you valuable career advice.
Consider going on informational interviews, an informal conversation with someone working in the field. It is not a job interview, but it is a great way to learn more about what employers are looking for.
Connect with former classmates who work at the companies where you want to work. Ask them for a referral. Research shows that 30 percent of hires come from referrals. But remember, it’s important to build and nurture relationships before asking someone to put in a good word for you.
2. Take the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam
If you are thinking that you might want to become a professional engineer later in your career, you must first pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. The FE exam is designed for those people who have graduated within the last 12 months. So, it’s suggested that you take it while the information is fresh in your mind.
A good idea is to team up with your former classmates and others to study together as a group. This will improve your chances of passing the exam. Once you have passed, you can become an engineer-in-training or engineering intern as you prepare for your PE exam.
3. Don’t Only Look for Industrial Engineering Jobs
One of the great advantages of being an industrial engineer is that you can work in almost any industry. Use your degree to open doors to other jobs related to your degree, like a business analyst or field engineer.
Also, think about your location. Some of the highest-paid industrial engineers work in Texas, California, Washington, Wyoming and Massachusetts. This may be due to several factors like demand in the area and the cost of living in that state.
4. Get a Co-op or Internship
Internships are not for current engineering students only. You can get an internship as a recent graduate, too. They are great for gaining valuable experience. Landing an internship requires reaching out to the right people. Start with the Career Development Center at NC State, the ISE Department and don’t forget LinkedIn.
Although you may not have taken advantage of them while you were a student, co-op programs can provide access to valuable industrial engineering jobs. You can earn a decent living on an industrial engineering salary from a co-op program, too. In 2019, ZipRecruiter reported that the average industrial engineering co-op in the U.S. earned $51,404 per year. Companies like Universal Orlando and Disney offer access to industrial engineering jobs through co-op programs.
As a fresh industrial engineering graduate, you need a plan to land a high-paying industrial engineering job. Use these best practices to get your first professional role as an industrial engineer. If you already have a job, help out your classmates who are still looking.