Engineering managers develop, plan, and direct research, design, and production. They supervise engineers and other related support personnel. Top executives provide them with broad outlines of scientific and technical needs, which they then transform into tangible and feasible goals. These goals can range from improving manufacturing processes to advancing scientific research to developing new products. They use their administrative knowledge to propose budgets for products and to hire the necessary personnel to complete the project. They coordinate with almost every other type of manager, contractor, and supplier that connects with their projects.
Engineering managers need to have a strong background in and knowledge of engineering. Because of the need to communicate in both technical and non-technical terms to workers, senior management, and customers, an engineering manager must have the work experience and formal education of an engineer. In addition to this technical knowledge, they must possess equally strong administrative and communication skills, which they use extensively in the job.
In 2002, sales managers earned a median annual salary of $90,930. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of engineering managers:
- Scientific instruments manufacturing – $101,290
- Management of companies and enterprises – 98,000
- Aerospace product and parts manufacturing – 97,420
- Federal Government – 90,030
- Architectural, engineering, and related services – 89,520
Training and Education
Almost all engineering managers start their careers working as an engineer. In order to be hired as an engineer, they must have completed a bachelor’s degree in the field. However, in order to advance to management positions, they need to acquire administrative and communication skills. To fulfill this skill requirement, many candidates obtain a master’s degree in engineering management or a master’s in business administration. Some large companies provide required degree programs on site.
In 2002, engineering managers, along with natural science managers, held about 257,000 jobs. About 26 percent worked in professional, scientific, and technical services industries; about 35 percent worked in manufacturing industries; and others were employed by government agencies and telecommunications and utilities companies.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of engineering managers is expected to increase about as fast as the average. Many jobs will result from the need to replace retiring managers. Growth will be directly proportional to the growth of the specific industry in which candidates are seeking jobs. Opportunity will be good for managers in management services and management, scientific, and technical consulting firms, due to the increasing trend toward contracting out engineering management services.
For more information on becoming an engineering manager, please visit our Directory of Schools Offering Engineering Degrees