An Engineering Manager could...
|Lead a team to create a product that revolutionizes transportation, like a self-driving car, from concept to reality.||Oversee the design and manufacture of cutting-edge prosthetics, like carbon fiber blades for high-speed running.|
|Guide an architectural team to overcome construction challenges, such as in building an energy-efficient skyscraper.||Meet with customers to understand their challenges and work to integrate solutions into the next product release.|
Key Facts & Information
|Overview||Engineering managers not only have to be knowledgeable about engineering, but they also need the right skills to be a good manager. Engineering managers supervise and coordinate a team of engineers. There are many specific engineering fields in which they could work, including manufacturing, electrical design, nuclear engineering, software, aerospace, and many others.|
|Key Requirements||Analytical abilities, confidence in using mathematics, complex problem-solving abilities, a hands-on understanding of the world, outstanding communication skills|
|Minimum Degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Subjects to Study in High School||Biology, chemistry, physics, geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus, calculus, English; if available, computer science, statistics, applied technology|
|Projected Job Growth (2010-2020)||More Slowly than Average (3% to 6%)|
Training, Other Qualifications
To become an engineering manager, experience in an engineering discipline is important in order to understand and guide the work of subordinate engineers, and to explain the work in nontechnical terms to senior management and potential customers. Consequently, most engineering managers typically have a bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline and professional work experience as an engineer, as well as management experience or training (sometimes in the form of a specialized master's degree).
If an engineering manager is in an engineering discipline that is rapidly changing, they may pursue continuing education, attend professional development seminars and conferences, read research and trade journals, and do other activities to keep their knowledge and skills up to date.
Education and Training
A bachelor's degree in a relevant engineering discipline is typically required for all entry-level engineering jobs. Most engineering-related degrees are granted in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, or software engineering. Occasionally, college graduates with a degree in a natural science, architecture, or mathematics may qualify for some engineering jobs, especially in specialties that are in high demand. Engineers trained in one branch may work in related branches. For example, many aerospace engineers have training in mechanical engineering.
Some engineering managers have more educational training in a management-related area than they do in engineering. For example, they may have a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance but not in an engineering discipline. However, they still need to be experienced in, and have technical knowledge of, the particular engineering discipline that they supervise.
A master's degree in engineering management (MEM), technology management (MSTM), or business administration (MBA) is common for an engineering manager to have to be more competitive.
Engineering managers should be creative and have strong problem-solving and analytical skills. They must also be able to effectively guide and supervise a group of subordinates to complete a given task, and communicate effectively (both orally and in writing) with subordinates, team members, specialists, other staff, senior management, and the customers they meet. Because they often must coordinate a number of tasks simultaneously, they must be able to concentrate and pay close attention to detail.
Nature of the Work
Engineering managers plan, coordinate, and direct research, design, and production activities. They may supervise and manage junior engineers, technicians, specialists, and other support personnel. Senior management typically outlines projects and goals that need to be accomplished in general terms, and engineering managers then break the projects and goals down into smaller, feasible goals. Engineering managers must use relevant engineering skills to create detailed plans to accomplish these goals by specific deadlines. This can involve planning, strategizing, and innovating with other engineers for years in advance, and may include developing a new product, and/or upgrading and improving an existing product. Once detailed plans are made, the engineering manager must then guide, supervise, and coordinate subordinates to meet specific deadlines, while anticipating potential delays, troubleshooting, and setbacks.
Engineering managers may need to carry out several administrative-related procedures. In addition to planning and coordinating production with engineers, this can include hiring, interacting with people in sales, going over financial reviews and budgeting, and overall helping to determine the best financial strategy to pursue in the marketplace for the company to succeed.
Engineering managers also frequently interact with customers, typically showing them the company's product, discussing how it could help customers, and discussing how the product could be improved/altered (or a new product developed) to better meet customers' specific needs. Customer feedback is passed back to the company and the company determines whether it should be altered, or if a new one should be made. Frequent travel may be involved.
Engineering managers spend most of their time in an office, but depending on how involved they are with the production aspect, they may also work in manufacturing plants, laboratories, or other places where production is being done. Engineering managers may also travel to meet with customers. Many engineering managers work at least 40 hours a week and might work much longer, on occasion, to meet project deadlines. Some might experience considerable pressure to meet production goal deadlines and work within a tight budget.
On the Job
- Create a detailed schedule to accomplish feasible goals by setting specific deadlines, while taking into consideration possible delays and setbacks.
- Use engineering skills to improve and troubleshoot a product.
- Interact with senior management to understand and incorporate bigger-picture and longer-term goals for the company.
- Work with other engineers to design a new product based on customer feedback.
- Work with other engineers to improve, or tailor, a product based on specific customer needs.
- Hire a person with the right skill set for a project.
- Supervise and manage a team of engineers and others involved in a project to accomplish a goal by a specific deadline.
- Meet with customers to understand their product needs and advise them on using a certain product.
- Meet with customers to get feedback on a product.
- Relay customer feedback on a product back to others in the company and discuss how the product should be improved, or how a new one should be designed.
- Determine how to meet specific goals while staying within a tight budget.
- Meet with people in sales and go over financial reviews and budgeting records to determine what financial avenues to pursue for the company.
- Travel to meet with customers, and possibly collaborators, at other locations.
- Write summaries and give presentations on a project and its progress.
- Interact with specialists that may be required for a specific project.
- Train customers in using the company's product.
- Update senior management on the progress of a specific product or project.
Companies That Hire Engineering Managers
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Do you have a specific question about a career as an Engineering Manager that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.
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