Engineering is one of the most lucrative and in-demand fields, with opportunities in multiple related disciplines that easily command annual salaries well north of $100,000. It offers many opportunities for advancement and engineers frequently assume managerial and leadership roles within their companies, often serving as engineering managers, where they use their engineering and management expertise to supervise teams bringing technically complex projects to successful completion.
In addition to being sought after and well-paid, engineers enjoy a high level of job security. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates that 74,800 new jobs will be created through 2029 for scientists, inventors, designers, builders in the architecture and engineering realm due to expected growth in infrastructure rebuilding, renewable energy, oil and gas extraction, and robotics.
Not only do engineers feel secure in their jobs, they love what they do. In a 2020 Salary & Career Survey: Engineering in the Time of COVID-19, 70 percent of engineering professionals said potential for growth in their field is as promising today as it was five years ago; 89 percent reported being satisfied with their current position; and 66 percent said they have never considered leaving engineering as a career.
Let's take a deeper look into engineering managers’ compensation—and how your level of education can impact it.
So, how much money do engineering managers make? We'll answer this by covering the following topics:
Behind every skyscraper, software product, and solar power grid is an engineering manager in charge of the teams of engineers, scientists, technicians, and other support personnel who research, design, and build them. Their day-to-day work typically requires both an in-depth understanding of multiple engineering and technical disciplines coupled with business administration and management expertise.
On the engineering side, engineering managers need up-to-date knowledge of the processes and technologies that enable their teams to efficiently and effectively complete engineering projects. Technical proficiency also is required to check their team's work for accuracy and quality assurance, and make recommendations and evaluate the necessity of trade-offs.
The business side of this role requires a strong grasp of project and financial management, as well as risk assessment. Engineering managers can expect to work on simultaneous projects, while balancing tasks that range from allocating and budgeting resources and coordinating communication across multiple departments, to planning and implementing a supply chain strategy, to ensuring that teams are meeting deadlines and maintaining a high standard of work.
At a minimum, a bachelor's degree in engineering and leadership experience are required for anyone considering a managerial role in this field, but a master's will significantly enhance your expertise and credibility, and make you a more competitive and desirable candidate to employers. In the past, graduate-level education opportunities for engineering managers took one of two routes: either a Master of Business Administration (MBA) to boost management skills or a Master of Science (MS) in a particular engineering discipline to boost technical understanding. Today, however, a range of master's programs in engineering management are available to help professionals develop their business acumen while also staying current in this technically-demanding field.
Other credentials also can help add to an engineer manager’s employability, such as Professional Engineer licensure from the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), which requires successfully completion of the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam in your state. Other professional engineering organizations, like the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM), provide two certification options to recognize "the knowledge and experience of professionals involved in the complex task of technical and engineering management." Their Certified Associate in Engineering Management (CAEM) credential is available to individuals who are new to engineering, technology, and science careers. The Certified Professional in Engineering Management (CPEM) qualification is for more seasoned professionals and requires several years of experience in project execution, design, team activities, leadership, and management.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, architectural and engineering managers make a median salary of $149,530 per year. However, salaries for engineering managers can differ greatly depending on industry and location.
While more traditional engineering fields such as civil and electrical engineering offer lucrative compensation, the highest paying positions are in tech and information systems, energy, ed/tech, and sports entertainment:
According to BLS data, the top-paying states for architectural and engineering managers by average median wage are:
Salary expectations, of course, also vary by city. The top paying metropolitan areas include:
While management positions within the engineering industry and other tech-driven fields are attainable with a bachelor's degree in STEM and relevant advanced work experience, how do their salaries compare to their peers who hold a engineering management master's ?
To answer that, we looked to reputable sites that offer salary information for specific jobs. According to PayScale, engineering managers make an average annual salary of $118,658, while Salary.com, reported that engineering managers earn a median salary of $135,392. In contrast, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that full-time engineering managers with a master’s degree earned an average of nearly 16 percent more than those whose highest degree completion was a bachelor’s. Those engineering managers with master's degrees also saw an unemployment rate that was 1.4 percent lower than their colleagues with bachelor's degrees.
A variety of online master's degree programs are available for prospective students seeking the flexibility of online learning, which can be helpful if you’re considering balancing graduate school with the demands of work, caring for family, and other outside obligations.
Asynchronous online degree programs allow students to study at their own pace, which can be ideal for engineers who plan to work full-time while pursuing their course of study. Synchronous online programs may be more challenging to complete while working, but offer the benefit of real-time engagement between students and instructors, as courses take place in a live learning environment.
The engineering management master's at Stevens Institute of Technology is one online program that utilizes both formats, with courses blending live weekly discussions, lectures, and Q/A sessions with asynchronous coursework. In contrast, more technical and math-oriented online courses tend to emphasize homework assignments and projects.
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