Within the engineering arena, leadership is as critical as in any other industry. During their undergraduate education, engineering professionals are equipped with the technical knowledge they need to complete tasks. However, equipping a professional not just to perform, but ultimately to lead, is a different task altogether. It requires a different set of aptitudes and training objectives. For this reason, Master of Engineering Management (MEM) degrees can prove extremely beneficial to professionals who would like to move into engineering leadership positions and increase their impact while enhancing their careers.
Overview of MEM Curriculum
An MEM degree differs from other leadership-oriented postgraduate degrees (including general management, organizational leadership, business, and more) because it teaches leadership within the context of engineering. Due to this, an MEM can prove more valuable to an engineer than a generic leadership degree.
Learning leadership skills within an engineering framework will significantly enhance an MEM student’s training and will allow him or her to learn more efficiently. It avoids superfluous contexts and hones in on the skills and experience needed to excel in an engineering environment. By focusing on the applications an engineering manager would most likely encounter in their future leadership positions, an MEM curriculum allows its graduates to enter leadership roles often more prepared than those with general leadership postgraduate degrees.
Good MEM degrees will include leadership courses and components throughout their curriculum. As you consider what program might be right for you, be sure to investigate the types of courses involved in each program you’re considering to ensure that you’ll receive adequate leadership training.
“Engineering Leadership” courses address engineering-specific leadership scenarios to prepare future engineering management professionals for what they may encounter on the job. These types of courses should include input from experts in the field and allow for practical skill development as well as classroom instruction.
Theory courses develop frameworks for problem-solving, decision-making, and analysis. They make up an integral part of an engineering manager’s training. Courses entitled, for example, “Lean Thinking Methods” or “Principles of Six Sigma” promise theoretical explorations of these types of frameworks and provide students the tools to quantitatively and objectively make decisions on the job.
Career Opportunities for MEM Graduates
MEM graduates are equipped to succeed in a variety of position types within the engineering industry. For every engineering project, a manager is necessary to oversee the undertaking. Work environments can vary widely from position to position. Engineering managers may find themselves in an office setting or they may spend almost all their time on-site. They may work in a fast-paced atmosphere or choose to accept a position that facilitates a more relaxed pace. Thus, engineering managers can often tailor their career to match their work preferences.
Engineering Manager Career Outlook
Pursuing positions within engineering management can prove an extremely lucrative career path. Engineering managers have the opportunity to use their leadership abilities and their engineering expertise in the context of their work. However, the engineer who becomes an engineering manager must also assume a variety of additional roles. Managers must possess business skills, human resources and communication skills, financial understanding, planning and scheduling aptitudes, and problem-solving prowess. Professionals equipped with an MEM degree are uniquely prepared to accept the challenges of a position in engineering leadership.
- Responsibilities: In most settings, engineering leadership personnel are responsible for overseeing all aspects of a project in order to ensure its successful completion within given parameters. These facets may include personnel, resource management, budget creation and management, equipment procurement and management, schedule creation, coordination, communication between various factions involved with the project, technical accuracy, and legal requirements.
- Salary: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), engineering managers’ reported median annual compensation in 2016 was $134,730.
- Employment:Engineering managers could be employed within the context of any engineering operation, from large firms to small organizations, nonprofits, government departments, agricultural applications, or even research and development enterprises.
According to the BLS, the engineering industry will grow by perhaps 7% between the years of 2016 and 2026. However, the number of professionals vying for those positions will increase as well. Earning a Master of Engineering Management opens new levels of opportunity and develops a skillset much more valuable and pertinent to the engineering field than earning a more general leadership postgraduate degree. To prepare for positions of management within the engineering field, earning an MEM is a strategic investment that can provide a huge value return in the form of elite career advancement opportunities as well as greater influence and ability.