Engineering Management Career: What to Expect

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Engineers meeting around a conference table in a technical office.Most engineers appreciate the value of an effective team leader who consistently brings projects to completion on time. Engineers may choose to pursue an engineering management career to achieve that same standard. By combining their technical background with lessons in management, those looking to advance increase their opportunities once they earn a Master of Engineering Management (MEM).

Because an online graduate degree allows you to study in your free time, you won’t have to quit your current job to pave the way to your new engineering management career ambitions. Additionally, an advanced degree such as a Master of Engineering Management can help you immediately apply management principles in your current engineering setting.

What Is Engineering Management?

A large part of what engineering management is begins with a firm grasp of engineering principles, and most engineering managers work first as engineers before advancing into management positions. Some principal duties of engineering managers include project management, research, and product development.

Engineering managers act as overseers who formulate plans to see that projects are successfully completed and manage employees from various engineering disciplines as well as cross-disciplinary and global teams. They also ensure that the final product is budgeted accurately and that upper management supports it. Along the way, they’ll check the work as it progresses to ensure the quality of work and the methods being used.

Engineering Management Skills

Engineering managers must possess a specific set of core competencies to be successful in their roles. Some of these engineering management skills demonstrate the type of fundamental technical acumen needed to excel in the engineering field. Others demonstrate qualities that can enable an individual to successfully govern a project from start to finish.

Leadership Skills

For a successful engineering management career, leaders must be able to provide comprehensive guidance throughout the course of a project to keep it on time and on budget. They must also be savvy enough to be able to deftly deploy the different components of effective leadership at the appropriate time, such as giving constructive criticism, motivating workers, and giving appropriate recognition.

Technical Skills

While engineering managers oversee projects, they need to keep their technical skills sharp, particularly in the engineering field associated with their management role. This can help foster a sense of trust among workers in a project, as managers with strong technical ability can demonstrate that they can lead by example as opposed to just delegating assignments.

Analytical Skills

Engineering managers monitor a project from start to finish. As such, they must be able to analyze the project as it progresses, detecting vulnerabilities that may disrupt a project’s timeline, budget, or quality along the way. This form of assessment can begin before the project starts, as engineering managers need to evaluate individuals at the project’s hiring stage to determine if they’re a proper fit for the project.

Communication Skills

Engineering managers should be able to communicate instructions, ideas, and goals clearly and concisely, with minimal vagueness and ambiguity. Clear communication keeps everyone on the same page, and communication that’s unclear or confusing could lead to unwitting errors on a project. This could mean finishing a project late or going over budget — or it could result in a project of inferior quality.

Engineering Management Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual engineering manager salary was $149,530 as of May 2020. A few factors could influence the salary, such as level of education and years of experience. The job location itself could also play a key factor in determining the salary. An engineering management role in a city with a higher cost of living may offer a higher median salary than a similar role in a city with a lower cost of living.

The specific engineering field may also play a key role in your salary. Although it’s best to stay within the industry you know when switching to an engineering management career, it can be helpful to understand which industries employ the highest number of engineering managers and which ones pay the highest wages.

Top 5 Industries Employing the Highest Number of Engineering Managers

  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • Scientific research and development services
  • Aerospace product and parts manufacturing
  • Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing

Top 5 Highest-Paying Engineering Management Industries

  • Manufacturing and reproducing magnetic and optical media
  • Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing
  • Oil and gas extraction
  • Spectator sports
  • Educational support services

Engineers are perfect candidates for management positions because of their penchant for problem-solving. Those who can master management skills and maintain focus on technical processes should have no trouble transitioning to an engineering management career.

Become a Leader Others Trust

Regardless of the project, successful engineering happens with trusted leadership at the helm. An engineering manager who exhibits clear communication, technical prowess, and the ability to spot vulnerabilities before they become issues can develop this needed level of trust organically. This can lead to projects that are finished on time, on budget, and with a high level of quality.

The first step on this journey is to develop your engineering management skills to an expert level. For those interested in the electrical engineering field, Ohio University’s online Master of Engineering Management program and its four concentrations can help you refine these skills. The program is designed to allow you to raise your knowledge and skillset to a level that prepares you for any curveball a project may throw at you, giving you the confidence to excel in a future management role. Learn how we can prepare you to achieve success.

Recommended Readings

Engineering Project Management: Methods and Best Practices

Is the Online Engineering Management Degree Right for Me?

Transition to a Higher Paying Engineering Management Salary


Apollo Technical, Top 10 Engineering Management Skills to Succeed (2021)

Indeed, Engineering Manager Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Monster, Electrical Engineering Manager Job Description Template

ONet OnLine, Architectural and Engineering Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Architectural and Engineering Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Architectural and Engineering Managers