Engineering management and the top career opportunities

Engineering management and the top career opportunities
Post Menu and Details.

Words: 1951

Reading time: ~8 minutes

Engineering managers play a significant role in bringing engineering-based projects to life. They help achieve this by leading engineering teams and providing different forms of mentorship and guidance, on and off-site.

If that sounds like a career path you would like to pursue, read this article for more information about engineering management. Readers will also get a breakdown of the opportunities available to engineering management degree holders and how to take advantage of them.

Who is an engineering manager?

Engineering management is a career that combines the problem solving aspect of engineering with leadership and managerial skills.

While engineers and team members might have the same knowledge and educational background, individual differences will always exist. The engineering manager’s job is to understand each team member’s uniqueness and strength and find the most suitable roles for them. An engineering manager must coach, mentor, and motivate professionals under their supervision toward achieving a singular goal.

What is the scope of a career as an engineering manager?

The function of an engineering manager comprises both functional management and project management. This position revolves around projects and company objectives and requires engineering managers to help design, evaluate and implement projects and plans. Naturally, these managers work with team members and other professionals to achieve set goals and objectives.

Most times, these managers do not have to get their hands dirty. They simply direct the team’s activities and evaluate them for technical accuracy. Engineering managers also work with other managers from different departments to plan, strategize and implement projects. For instance, they may liaise with the finance team concerning budgeting, or the HR department if there is a need to hire specialist engineers or outsource parts of the project.

Job opportunities with a master’s degree in engineering management

Job Opportunities With A Master's Degree In Engineering Management

An advanced degree in a technology-driven economy like the US will certainly open up more job opportunities. This career path is quite versatile, so the opportunities may span different work settings. Below are some job positions available for engineering management graduates.

  • Project engineer

These professionals oversee specific projects and, therefore, should possess a deep understanding of the field. Project engineers need to be present in every aspect of the project, from the design stage to the implementation. They are the glue marrying each member’s skills and abilities to make the project a success.

The position of a project engineer is not such a general one as it varies with the engineering field. For instance, a civil engineering project engineer might supervise a skyscraper’s construction. At the same time, a project manager for electrical engineering may take charge of wiring up the building.

  • Systems analyst

The functions of a systems analyst have to do with IT infrastructures. As such, much of the work revolves around computers and other digital systems. It is one of the most popular aspects of engineering, as most businesses and organizations have IT systems. A manager in this field will guide the team in designing, managing, and improving the sustainability of IT systems.

The duties of a systems analyst include the following:

  • Evaluating existing IT systems and creating reports for them.
  • Researching new technologies and implementing possible upgrades.
  • Optimizing IT protocols and maximizing computer resources.

Due to the high level of digitalization in organizations, these professionals are in high demand and earn attractive salaries.

  • Business analyst

These professionals’ function in a similar way to system analysts. However, the focus is no longer on IT systems but the company’s structures and procedures. Business analysts typically work as consultants. They are hired to evaluate and optimize the operations and processes in different parts of an organization.

Business analysis is broad and has no predetermined end point. When evaluating departmental budgets, for instance, analysts look for as many loopholes and excesses as exist.

  • Operations manager

This is a top position in the HR department of most engineering organizations. Operations managers specialize in optimizing productivity and increasing cost-efficiency by improving the quality of operations.

The duties here involve materials, workforce and budget. In other words, managers may need to oversee budgets, inventory work and staff training.

  • Construction manager

The primary duty of construction managers is to oversee the affairs of constructing a building or any other structure. These functions start from the early development stage down to completion, and managers organize all the resources and personnel involved in the process.

The construction manager oversees the laborers, engineers, architects, and other professionals on-site. Ultimately, they guide individual activities toward the common goal of completing the building.

A construction manager also does the following:

  • Ensures the project is in line with government building regulations.
  • Creates budget plans and ensure construction does not exceed it.
  • Interprets technical drawings and documents for stakeholders.
  • Process engineer

Modern technology encompasses a lot of automation, especially in the manufacturing sector. While automated technologies minimize human input, human elements are still necessary to oversee them. This is where process engineers come in. In today’s world of modern technology, GPS tracking time clock apps are a must-have tool for construction managers. GPS tracking makes it easier to track employees’ hours and locations so that project milestones can be met without delays. Not only does this keep projects on track, but it also reduces costs by eliminating manual processes for calculating and tracking timesheets. Keeping an accurate timesheet is essential in the construction industry as it helps ensure compliance with labor regulations and keeps productivity up to date. These apps provide the data needed to make sure construction productivity remains at its highest potential.

They do whatever is necessary to ensure that manufacturing facilities turn the raw materials into the proper finished product. These managers optimize the manufacturing process by:

  • Reducing defects.
  • Improving operational cost.
  • Increasing the productivity of the machines.

In addition, process engineers might have to conduct routine maintenance tests to keep equipment functioning properly.

  • Senior chemical engineer

These professionals have an advanced understanding of chemical processes and how to use them in refining raw materials. While the team works to produce fertilizers, fuel, drugs, etc., the senior chemical engineer is assigned with overhauling tasks. For instance, these managers come up with systems and precautions to ensure the chemical products, as well as the process of making them, are safe for humans.

Other responsibilities include:

  • Leading research on chemical processes and products.
  • Supervising chemical engineering-based projects.
  • Testing of new chemicals.

Top engineering management skills

Operating as an engineering manager involves coordinating the affairs of different teams in an engineering department. This requires some core skills, including:

  • Technical knowledge

Any managerial position primarily involves supervising and motivating professionals for optimal productivity. However, engineering management is equal parts technical and people oriented. As such, having sound technical knowledge is indispensable.

Sometimes, motivating team members requires more than just inspiring words. Where software engineers encounter problems, engineering managers should be able to proffer some technical knowledge to help push through the roadblock. For this reason, a career in this field usually requires a prior engineering degree or some related technical training. Since managerial positions are a much higher echelon, these kinds of skills can be developed with the help of an engineer management master degree, such as the one offered by the University of Ottawa, as this will increase your chances of success.

  • Good communication

Engineering managers need good communication skills to effectively bring the best out in the professionals they work with. These managers need to know the best way to communicate with team members so that they get the message across as clearly as possible. This skill also comes in handy when interacting with executives, clients, etc.

Once again, a degree in engineering management is essential, as you will often need to communicate with jargon and technical terminology.

  • Decision-making

For engineers, decision-making usually involves proffering solutions to a problem. However, for engineering managers, the purview of decisions in the organization leans toward judgment calls. Managers are tasked with making decisions that could help seize a good opportunity or avoid a potential threat to company goals.

  • Delegation

This is an essential skill for all kinds of managers and leadership positions in general. Managers cannot oversee every single aspect of a project on their own. So, they should be able to delegate work among the team members for greater productivity. However, for any form of delegation to be productive, the engineering manager must understand each team member’s strengths, weaknesses and capabilities. By extension, this requires interpersonal skills such as active listening, emotional intelligence, etc.

Why get a master’s degree in engineering management?

A master’s degree goes a long way in the career of an engineering manager. It opens many doors and opportunities that a bachelor’s degree alone might not offer. Master’s degrees often take no longer than two years, during which time you acquire grounded knowledge in deeper aspects of this career path, such as organizational behavior, engineering management strategy, and technical project management.

With a good command of these aspects, you will be able to manage engineering teams better. You will also attain a better understanding of the different aspects of engineering projects and how to implement them.

Building a career as an engineering manager

Building A Career As An Engineering Manager

Achieving a lasting career in engineering management requires you to take several predefined steps. As mentioned, managerial jobs are high-ranking positions, and a lot of groundwork is needed to get there, especially if you hope to join the most coveted organizations.

  • Earn a degree

To flourish in engineering management, you need a strong engineering background and good management skills. The former requires you to complete an undergraduate program. Related bachelor’s degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management (BSEM) and a Bachelor of Engineering in Engineering Management (BEEM).

You can further strengthen your knowledge base by getting a master’s degree like the online program at the University of Ottawa.

  • Gain work experience

In the real world, practical experience is just as valuable as theoretical knowledge acquired from an academic institution. So, it is essential to gain work experience. The first work experience after college is often an internship position under the supervision of a senior professional.

Prospective engineering managers may need to work lower engineering jobs before setting their sights on a managerial position. Many organizations require at least four years of experience when hiring for this level.

  • Earn the required licenses

In most parts of the US, an engineering manager would require a Practice of Engineering (PE) license to practice. Getting this license requires you to have completed the steps mentioned above. You may also need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) before taking the PE exams.

These examinations are conducted by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. The purpose of these tests is to evaluate your knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  • Project management
  • Software and computer knowledge
  • Engineering Science
  • Workflow development
  • Math
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Seek further education and certifications

The next step after obtaining a license is strengthening your credentials. Fortunately, you can get more certifications and degrees while you work. These certifications help improve your profile and your viability for promotions and higher roles.

One of the popular certifications to consider is Engineering Manager Professional Certification (EMPC) from the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM).

Advantages of an engineering management career

There are lots of reasons why engineering management is a good career path to pursue. Firstly, numerous job opportunities are available, as defined in earlier parts of this article. These opportunities come with even better pay and more prominent roles if you have a master’s degree in this field.

Suppose you want to avoid spending the rest of your life running the affairs of someone else’s organization. This flexible career allows you to start up your own business and become the employer instead of the employee.

Engineering management duties are similar to those of entrepreneurship. Bringing different professionals together to achieve a common goal is a significant part of running a business. Without a doubt, becoming a successful entrepreneur is an arduous journey. However, a degree in engineering management affords you the proper intellectual tools to make it easier.

Thank you for reading!