Outlook & Growth
This career is expected to grow 9 percent through 2020.
There should be strong demand for engineering management professionals in the scientific research and development services industry and in the architectural, engineering and related services industry. The job market will be best in areas such as environmental and biomedical engineering and will favor engineers with advanced technical knowledge, strong communication skills and business management skills.
Salary & Wages
In 2010, engineering managers earned an average salary of $119,260. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $77,440, while the top 10 percent earned more than $166,400. Those in scientific research and development services earned the most; those in architectural, engineering and related services earned the least.
What is an Engineering Manager?
Engineering managers plan, coordinate and direct research, design and production activities. These managers use their knowledge of engineering to oversee a variety of activities.
Engineering managers may supervise people who design and develop machinery, products, systems and processes. They might also direct and coordinate production, operations, quality assurance, testing or maintenance in industrial plants.
Many are plant engineers, who direct and coordinate the design, installation, operation and maintenance of equipment and machinery in industrial plants. Others manage research and development teams that produce new products and processes or improve existing ones.
Like other managers, engineering managers propose budgets for projects and programs and determine staff, training and equipment needs. They hire, assign and supervise the engineers and support personnel who carry out the projects. They coordinate the activities of their unit with those of other units or organizations and confer with higher levels of management.
Education & Degree Path
Most engineering managers have bachelor's degrees
, and most also gain business management skills by completing a master’s degree in engineering management
(MEM) or business administration
Typically, engineers who prefer to manage in technical areas pursue an MEM, and those interested in less technical management earn an MBA. The master’s in technology management is an increasingly popular choice for anyone interested in the broad management of technical teams.
Since managers usually begin as engineers, they are often licensed. All 50 states require engineers to be licensed if they directly serve the public.
Entering the Field:
Most engineering managers begin their careers as field engineers after completing a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a closely allied technical field. To advance to a management position, engineers and scientists generally must gain experience and gradually assume management responsibility.
There is opportunity for engineering technicians of all types to earn master’s
or graduate certificates
in technology management or project management in preparation for managing complex technical teams.
Career Changers: It is easier for engineering managers to make career changes to other jobs within their firms—typically to sales manager positions, for which engineering experience is a huge plus—than it is for non-engineers to become engineering managers.
General managers who are working in low-pay fields such as retail or hospitality management can earn master's degrees or graduate certificates in technology management or specialized engineering areas in an effort to move into technical management, which in general is a much higher paying management career niche.
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