Where do industrial engineers work

Profession industrial engineer - job description and job opportunities

Find out here what an industrial engineer does, which possible professions await you after studying industrial engineering and what the career prospects are.

Thanks to their interdisciplinary approach, industrial engineers have many different branches and professional fields open to them after successfully completing their studies. This is generally very positive and ensures that you will always be able to face new career opportunities and reorient yourself in the course of your life.

For a successful career start in an "all-rounder" subject such as industrial engineering, it is an advantage if you start your studies with an approximate idea of ​​your future occupation and set your priorities here. This gives you a good chance of asserting yourself against graduates from specialized courses, for example in the field of business administration. To make your decision easier, we will introduce you to the most important industries and occupational fields in which industrial engineers work and explain career opportunities to you.

University tip


The Fresenius University of Applied Sciences offers you a variety of facets of industrial engineering in the form of online courses and advanced training. You can find all the details in the information material.

Professional fields after studying industrial engineering

Industrial engineers find work in the same industries and similar companies as, for example, mechatronics engineers, electrical engineers or mechanical engineers. These are mainly:

  • the automotive industry
  • the aerospace industry
  • Energy supplier
  • information and communication technology
  • medical technology
  • logistics
  • Research and Development
  • company-related service providers
  • mechanical engineering
  • the construction industry

However, industrial engineers usually take on different areas of responsibility than graduates of pure engineering courses, which is why we would like to introduce you to a number of typical professional fields in more detail below.

Purchasing is of the utmost importance for every manufacturing industry. Among other things, this is where it decides whether a company can produce at a profit or not. Buyers not only have to make sure that they get the material they need at the lowest possible price, they also have to be able to assess its quality and usability. In addition, companies also rely on the assessment of their buyers when it comes to the reliability of suppliers and the smooth flow of supply chains. On the basis of the industrial engineer’s assessment, the company ultimately concludes the contracts with suppliers. The buyer has an important and responsible position in the company and makes an important contribution to ensuring that a company can work in a high-quality and cost-effective manner.

Industrial engineers are predestined for this profession: their specialist and technical know-how enables them to correctly evaluate and assess the quality of the goods; their commercial skills enable them to make calculations and ensure the profitability of a purchase. A job in this professional field is recommended for every industrial engineer who is happy to travel and socialize, has negotiating skills and knowledge of foreign languages ​​and who wants to take on responsibility quickly.

The term controlling is not clearly defined per se and can combine a large number of different activities. An employee in controlling has a wide variety of tasks, ranging from bookkeeping to project administration and budget planning to management tasks. The controller calculates and checks costs, calculates production analyzes and works through optimization processes on the continuous cost improvement of a manufacturing process. This is probably the professional field in which industrial engineers have to assert themselves most strongly against the graduates of a classic business administration course.

However, they have advantages in all technical operations and companies: If you want to be successful as a controller here, you have to have a good understanding of the subject in addition to business management qualities, which pure business students usually lack. Anyone who decides on a career in controlling at an early stage should, however, qualify accordingly during their studies. Topics such as accounting and corporate planning should then by no means be missing from the timetable. Corresponding internships bring the necessary practical experience. In addition to good analytical skills and a confident demeanor, prospective controllers should also have leadership qualities and a good command of English.

Due to their interdisciplinary studies, industrial engineers always look at a situation from different perspectives and have an eye on both the details and the overall picture. It is precisely these characteristics that make them sought-after specialists in the professional field of management consulting. Industrial engineers who work in this area have the task of evaluating the processes and structures of a company with the aim of ensuring and increasing profitability and economic success. For example, they develop strategies and concepts for marketing and sales, evaluate internal organization and processes or make recommendations for human resources.

For example, if a technology company is thinking about introducing a new technical innovation or a product, but is unsure about the profitability and chances of success in the market, then turn to a management consultancy who will support it in solving these complex issues. Business consultants can either work in a company themselves or work for consulting agencies that have various companies among their customers.

Those who strive for a long-term consultancy career have advantages to familiarize themselves with many different areas and projects by working in an agency and thus to build up broad and diversified expertise. In order to work in this professional area, in addition to technical know-how, you should above all have characteristics such as an independent way of working, teamwork, creativity and good analytical skills.

The fact that a company manufactures or offers good products is not enough on its own for economic success. The presentation and sale of the goods plays an equally important role. Positioning a company correctly on the market and securing and expanding competitive advantages is accordingly an important task that makes a decisive contribution to the success of a company, and here, too, industrial engineers can incorporate their diverse skills. They analyze market movements, define target groups and their needs and align their strategies accordingly. Communication with customers and the general public through public relations are also important areas of responsibility.

As an industrial engineer in the field of marketing and sales, the following areas of activity could be part of your work: creating advertising measures, targeted market research and analyzes, developing systemic solutions for sales or optimizing sales processes. Industrial engineers have a great advantage here thanks to their technical understanding, because after all, you can only sell a product if you understand and can explain it correctly. Above all, industrial engineers who are communicative and creative and like to analyze and work strategically have career opportunities here.

Career opportunities for industrial engineers

According to an analysis by the Federal Employment Agency, industrial engineers are currently among the most sought-after specialists on the job market (source: welt.de). And even if the number of industrial engineering students has increased significantly over the last few years due to this fact, the job opportunities and career prospects are still very good. The largest employer in Germany is still the manufacturing industry, but the service sector and wholesale and foreign trade are also increasingly relying on the technical and economic know-how and the interdisciplinary skills of industrial engineers. For this reason, the unemployment rate for industrial engineers is generally very low at around 3 percent (source: wolfsburgerblatt.de).

Even if industrial engineers are sought in almost all industries, it is above all mechanical engineering, vehicle construction and the electrical industry that have a particularly high demand for industrial engineers and offer graduates a good start into their careers (source: Federal Employment Agency). Since the great potential of industrial engineers has meanwhile "got around", not only large companies, but also small and medium-sized companies are increasingly looking for all-rounders and offer good opportunities for starting a career.

Since supply chains, projects and production no longer only take place within national borders, but function across borders, the international market also offers very good career opportunities for graduates who are not afraid of technical English and intercultural exchange.

The same applies to prospective industrial engineers: the more practical experience and the better the professional network, the easier it is to start a career. Internships during the semester break not only make it easier to choose a career later, but also create important personal contacts and thus increase application success.

Salary: What does an industrial engineer earn?

Industrial engineers are among the best deserving engineers. We'll tell you how much the monthly plus is on the account in our large salary article:

Salary industrial engineer

Vacancies for industrial engineers

Curious about the job market? Job advertisements are a good source of assessing job prospects - not just for those who are already looking.