A master's in any engineering discipline is a concrete way to prove a passion for science and innovation and the desire for a challenging career. This includes a master's degree in engineering management, which introduces students to the advanced technical concepts and business skills they'll need to successfully pursue a range of high-level, specialized positions.
In some fields, it’s necessary to move from undergraduate to graduate education to ensure career progression and mobility. Take healthcare, for example, which is not only one of the fast-growing fields but one in which a master’s degree is increasingly required for a wide range of positions. Education is another field that requires its practitioners to obtain a graduate degree early in their careers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a master’s in education was the second most awarded degree type in 2018–19, with over 146,400 degrees conferred.
And then there’s engineering, where a master’s degree isn’t a prerequisite for an engineering management career for now, at least. Which makes it all the more interesting that masters in various engineering disciplines made for the fourth largest percentage of master’s degrees awarded in 2018–19. So, why are they so popular?
For many, a master’s in the field is a concrete way to demonstrate a passion for science and innovation, and the desire to be competitive in this challenging field. A master’s degree in engineering management, in particular, introduces students to the advanced technical concepts and business skills they’ll need to successfully pursue a range of high-level, specialized positions.
So, what jobs can I get with a master’s in engineering management? We’ll cover that as well as the following topics:
According to the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM), “engineering management is the art and science of planning, organizing, allocating resources, and directing and controlling activities which have a technological component. Engineering management is rapidly becoming recognized as a professional discipline. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, engineering managers are distinguished from other managers by the fact that they possess both an ability to apply engineering principles and a skill in organizing and directing technical projects and people in technical jobs.”
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Engineering management graduates have many career options and pursue advanced roles and management positions across project management, product development, organizational behavior, and a wide range of specialized engineering fields and other high-tech fields.
Many engineering manager roles focused on operations management also may hold the role of engineering operations supervisor. This position is primarily focused on strategic outcomes and execution, including business planning, large development projects, and long-term development. As the bridge between an organization’s engineering and business departments, they serve as the primary point of contact for engineering planning and execution and often provide various analyses and reports to executive management to support decision-making within the engineering department.
Senior systems analysts are responsible for managing an organization’s computer systems for an organization and its clients. Their work often focuses on areas of IT improvement, whether supervising the design of new system architecture, the troubleshooting and resolution of system errors and inefficiencies, or the integration of new solutions into existing technologies. Since it’s an advanced role, they typically oversee the work of database administrators, network designers, and lower-level IT personnel to promote organization and efficiency by advising on design concepts and changes, implementation strategies, and deployment timelines.
The engineering professionals working in the technology management realm are largely responsible for supervising the planning, maintenance, and operation of information systems. Day-to-day, this may find technology managers leading tech support teams, overseeing the installation of hardware and software, and integrating various information systems for purposes ranging from telecommunications and data management to transaction processing, office automation, and executive support.
Senior IT project managers oversee individual and multi-disciplined IT projects from the initial idea phase through to completion, while supervising a team of junior and mid-level project managers who are directly involved with ongoing projects. As an IT lead, they’re accountable for their team’s ability to meet projected delivery dates and stay within budget and must often serve as a liaison between different departments and outside vendors and suppliers to clearly define project requirements and expectations.
The engineering managers in construction fields bridge elements of design and management to help push building projects to completion. Given their focus in the engineering realm, they’re responsible for assembling teams of qualified engineers who can ensure project completion and must possess a deep understanding of risk analysis and cost planning alongside the laws, regulations, and building codes that directly impact the project at hand.
A master’s degree in engineering management is available through a Master of Engineering Management (MEM) or Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM) and is designed for engineering professionals eyeing leadership roles within their specialized fields. Programs are applicable across a broad scope of engineering disciplines and offer technical and financial insight into how complex engineering projects are created, operated, and managed. They build on undergraduate degree concepts and exposing students to the decision-making, problem-solving, management skills, and leadership skills needed to successfully oversee a team of engineers.
Graduate programs in engineering management aim to help students grow their expertise in engineering management methods and tools used in technology-based settings and how to apply them strategically across a range of business functions and career paths. Engineering management degrees of this type are often particularly valuable to professionals who have several years of work experience in tech-driven government, corporate, or entrepreneurial roles, as they provide the broad-based knowledge and skills to succeed as organizational and project managers.
Graduate-level engineering management programs offer core courses emphasizing foundations of operations research, engineering project management, and aspects of financial management and accounting related to leading cross-disciplinary engineering and science-based teams. Students also complete electives in engineering and other technical disciplines, as well as specialized management courses that align with their experiences, skill sets, and goals. In many degree programs, this interdisciplinary mix of coursework results in a specialization that reflects students’ specific interests and career goals, such as industrial engineering, supply chain management, technological entrepreneurship, and information systems management.
Another common component of engineering management master’s degree programs is the capstone project, which requires students to showcase real-world applications of the knowledge they gained from their program. Effort in this realm typically culminates in a written report or case study, which is often presented before a school committee, a board of engineering educators, or a classroom of peers.
Slightly less common are graduate certificates, which some students may complete alongside their graduate degree through a shorter course of study in a specialized topic area. The School of Systems and Enterprises at Stevens Institute of Technology offers this option, both as an individual credential and incorporated into a related on-campus and online master’s degree, such as its Master of Engineering in Engineering Management program. The 13 graduate certificates available include advanced systems engineering, logistics and supply chain analysis, and healthcare systems and data analytics.
Admissions requirements can vary from school to school, but generally speaking, your application for enrollment in a master of engineering management program requires most or all of the following criteria:
Whether pursuing an on-campus program, online program, or hybrid approach, most students will need to complete 30 and 36 credits to earn their degree. Full-time learners usually need about two years to finish all required coursework, while those studying on a part-time basis typically need about three to four years. Accelerated programs are also available, particularly through online engineering management master’s programs, and can be completed in anywhere from one year to 16 months.
The truth is, it depends. Engineering management master’s programs require a significant amount of time, commitment, and money. When deciding whether to complete a degree of your own, you’ll need to give serious consideration to your future in the field—and know for sure if you’re committed to pursuing roles leading innovative and tech-driven teams and departments. If so, the degree will likely be worth it, not only in terms of the satisfaction you’ll derive from your coursework and the skills and knowledge you’ll gain, but also the newfound confidence you’ll have to climb the ranks after graduation and for the duration of your career.
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