Engineering managers play a pivotal role in technical organizations of all sizes. This rewarding career path offers both financial benefits and intellectual challenges for the right person. Engineering managers can rapidly advance to executive roles with valuable management and technical experience. Students looking for a great opportunity in a technical discipline with longevity should look into engineering management as a potential career option.
Getting a job as an engineering manager is easier said than done. Engineering managers have skills and experience that the average person does not possess. This type of position is growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 197,800 engineering and architectural managers in the United States. The first step on your path to becoming an engineering manager is to obtain a degree in engineering.
Engineering Manager Degree
Most engineering managers have a degree in a technical background, usually in some engineering discipline. Students who have aspirations to become engineering managers typically have to become engineers first. To land an engineering job, students should get a degree in engineering.
Engineering Manager Undergraduate Degrees
Most engineering manager roles require an undergraduate degree in some engineering discipline. There are exceptions where a job candidate has the technical experience to substitute for an undergraduate degree. Candidates with undergraduate degrees in other technical fields, such as physics or mathematics, may also be considered for an engineering manager role.
Students looking to become engineering managers should ensure that the college or university they are applying to is accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). An ABET engineering degree ensures that you have the right knowledge and training to excel in any engineering position.
Engineering degrees are notoriously difficult for undergraduate students. Getting a degree in engineering requires many skills, such as problem solving and mathematics. If you are unsure that engineering is for you, going to a two-year college or university and getting a technical associate’s degree can help you decide.
Colleges and universities also offer undergraduate degrees in engineering management. These programs are a perfect fit for students who want both technical and business education. These degrees are becoming increasingly popular across the country. Students who wish to become engineering management professionals may pursue an undergraduate degree in engineering management.
Engineering Manager Graduate Degrees
Engineers who already have an undergraduate degree and are looking to move into a management position may look into going back to school. There are multiple degree paths that engineers can pursue to help them become engineering managers. The degree that you should pursue largely depends on your personal goals and aspirations.
A Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is a graduate degree that engineers often pursue to move into management positions. This degree gives engineers the management skills to excel in a business role. Engineers will learn business skills, such as finance and human resources, in this graduate program. An MBA is not the only graduate degree to help an engineer move up to an engineering management position.
Getting a Masters of Engineering (ME) in Engineering Management is an ideal path for engineers looking to make the jump into management. In the past, getting an MBA was one of the only surefire ways for engineers to move into a management position. That began to change when Syracuse University offered the first graduate degree in engineering management in the United States in 1957.
The trend has only continued to accelerate since then. Colleges and universities worldwide have begun to offer engineering management degrees. The MBA and ME in engineering management are great degrees for engineers looking to advance their careers. Once you have the appropriate degrees, you have a better chance of becoming an engineering manager.
How To Become An Engineering Manager
Becoming an engineering manager is generally a straightforward process. However, the path may take a long time. Some engineers do not reach the manager level for decades. Understanding the steps needed can ensure that you reach your goal of becoming an engineering manager as soon as possible.
1) School and Internships
The first step to becoming an engineering manager is to get a degree in engineering. Engineering managers can receive a degree in any discipline of engineering. Students should pursue whatever engineering discipline they find the most interesting.
An internship in an engineering management program can help students rapidly advance their career prospects. Students can go through multiple internships while they are studying for their degrees. These internships help engineering students gain the necessary experience to move into an engineering management career.
2) Job Experience
Becoming an engineering manager requires years of experience. Most students do not have the skills or experience to jump from school into an engineering manager position. Engineering managers need real-world experience working in engineering environments to grow. Engineers will learn how to problem-solve, resolve conflicts, optimize projects, and more during the early years of their careers.
Hopeful engineering managers should also consider looking into engineering management programs. Some engineering-focused companies offer engineering management training programs where talented engineers can craft their management skills. These programs ensure that engineers can attain their goal of becoming engineering managers.
Students who graduate with an engineering degree can take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. This exam showcases your engineering knowledge. Students looking to land great engineering roles may want to take this exam.
After a few years of experience as an engineer, you can apply for your Professional Engineering License. Engineers need to pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam to obtain a license. Receiving your professional engineering license helps you stand out from the competition when applying for engineering management positions.
There are professional certifications that help engineers move into management positions. The Engineering Manager Professional Certification from the American Society for Engineering Management is a powerful certification that proves your competency in management. Another potential certification is the Professional Engineering Manager Certification from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.
What Does An Engineering Manager Do?
Those who become engineering managers typically have a good level of job satisfaction. One of the reasons is likely that this job does not involve repetitive work. Engineering managers have a variety of daily responsibilities that they are in charge of. These daily tasks vary greatly between industries and even in the same organization. As an engineering manager, you will make decisions that affect company performance.
Managing and engineering are two vastly different abilities. The most talented engineer does not always translate into the most talented engineering manager. People skills are hugely important in this type of job. Engineering managers are required to have analytical, organizational, and communication skills.
Project management is a key skill in an engineering manager’s daily life. Engineering managers ensure that projects remain on track. From making reports on project progress to accurate budgets, engineering managers’ days are filled with interesting work. A good engineering manager has to understand the technology and the jobs that various team members perform.
Engineering managers use their knowledge of engineering to oversee operations and projects. They can take a new product from concept to delivery to the end-user. Additionally, engineering managers are responsible for working out any technical problems that occur throughout the lifetime of a project.
Engineering managers have to put out fires constantly. They are responsible for handling any interpersonal conflicts that occur in their teams. Younger engineers will look to their managers for guidance and possibly mentorship. As an engineering manager, you will help your team grow in their role, and you are responsible for their performance.
The possibilities are endless for engineers who move into a management role. Engineering managers can get involved in many interesting projects while advancing their careers.
Engineering Manager Job Description
When you become an engineering manager, the doors open for other management positions. Engineering managers have the technical and personal skills to rise in their career, which ends at the top of any organization. Engineering managers have a clear shot to the C-suite if that is their desired career path.
Some of the common career advancements for engineering managers are:
- Director of Engineering: This position is in charge of all the engineering activities and projects within an organization.
- Chief Technology Officer: The CTO is responsible for all of the technology requirements, development, and challenges an organization faces.
- Senior Engineering Manager: This position is similar to an engineering manager but with more responsibility, authority, and typically higher pay.
Engineers who move into management are well compensated for their work. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Architectural and Engineering Managers make a median of $149,530 per year. This is one of the many reasons why engineering managers are highly sought-after.
Students looking to become engineering managers should be confident that their job outlook is safe for the foreseeable future. Engineering managers have difficult but rewarding jobs.