Engineering

What Is Engineering Management?

What Is Engineering Management?
Engineering managers must stay up-to-date on the latest processes and technologies that enable their teams to complete engineering projects efficiently and successfully. Image from Pexels
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Craig Hoffman October 6, 2022

Engineering management marries engineering's technical knowledge and problem-solving expertise with business management principles to ensure complex engineering projects succeed.

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Engineering is a broad field of study that integrates scientific, economic, social, and practical concepts into the design, construction, maintenance, and improvement of materials, devices, machines, buildings, infrastructure, and systems. Engineering isn’t a single discipline; it’s a mix of different skills and processes. That’s why most engineering projects require a diverse team of individuals with discrete complementary skill sets. For example, the erection of a new bridge may involve designers, architects, construction managers, geotechnicians, and computer programmers.

As these endeavors become larger and more complex, organizations often employ engineering managers to lead these various groups and ensure they’re functioning as an efficient and effective team. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), engineering managers “direct and coordinate building activities at construction sites or activities related to production, operations, quality assurance, testing, or maintenance at manufacturing sites.” As you can see, the engineering manager’s skill set is as broad and varied as those of the people they manage and the types of projects they oversee.

If you’re interested in entering or advancing within this field, this article can help. It addresses the question what is engineering management? In addition, it covers:

  • What does an engineering manager do?
  • How to become an engineering manager
  • Careers in engineering management
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What is engineering management?

Engineering management is a career that bridges business and engineering realms, combining engineering’s technical knowledge and problem-solving expertise with business management principles. It’s a valued role within a variety of industries because it ensures that projects culminate on schedule and within budget parameters.

Engineering managers must stay up-to-date on the latest processes and technologies that enable their teams to complete engineering projects efficiently and successfully. They also need this knowledge to review their team’s work for accuracy and quality assurance, as well as to assess and provide recommendations for any course corrections, should the project encounter any roadblocks.

Engineering managers budget and allocate resources and coordinate communication across multiple departments. On the business side, they understand the business processes of project and financial management, risk assessment, risk management, scheduling, and human resources.

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What does an engineering manager do?

Engineering managers are responsible for planning, organizing, and managing a company’s technical and engineering activities. They oversee and advise other engineers, as well as plan engineering projects and ensure they are implemented correctly and safely—though they’re primarily focused on meeting project objectives on time and budget and resolving business and scheduling issues. The engineering manager’s specific job functions include:

  • Developing designs and products based on their findings
  • Determining the need for talent development and training
  • Recruiting contractors and assembling teams
  • Ascertaining whether the products have the backing of higher management
  • Providing the technical teams with precise and explicit directions
  • Organizing and leading research and development projects that result in innovative designs, product development, and processes
  • Ensuring the technical accuracy and quality of their team’s work
  • Collaborating with other managers and employees to coordinate projects

Because they must offer technical instructions to various departments based on their position in the project’s progress, a competent engineering manager must have outstanding communication and decision-making abilities. They also need to be well-organized, as they manage resources and finances across different departments throughout the project.

How to become an engineering manager

Employers seek engineering managers with the proper combination of education and training, management expertise, and work experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that job growth in this field between now and 2030 will be 2 percent, which translates to around 14,000 openings for architectural and engineering managers each year. If you can secure one of these positions, you’re paid well. The current average income for engineering managers is approximately $158,000 per year.

While some engineers specialize in a particular sector (such as chemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or software engineering), qualifying for this role often entails gaining years of experience and taking on increasing responsibilities or obtaining an engineering management degree that teaches you the technical skills and management skills necessary for performing this job successfully.

Engineering manager academic and professional credentials

At a minimum, you need a bachelor’s degree—a Bachelor of Science in engineering or architecture is good—plus years of relevant experience to qualify for an engineering manager job. To acquire engineering-related business management expertise, some engineers earn a Master of Engineering Management (MEM or MsEM), a technology management master’s (MSTM), or a traditional graduate degree in business administration (MBA).

In addition, engineering managers can earn certificates that document and certify their abilities and knowledge. Candidates must meet the American Society of Engineering Management’s educational and professional qualifications, pay a fee, and pass an exam based on the principles of the Engineering Management Book of Knowledge (EMBoK), a reference manual for eleven areas of engineering management expertise, including strategic planning and systems engineering.

Skills and knowledge

In the engineering program at Stevens Institute of Technology, students take engineering management courses in

  • Accounting
  • Data science
  • Economics
  • Financial management
  • Informatics
  • Leadership
  • Operations
  • Supply chain management

Depending on their specialty, engineering management program students also choose electives in:

  • Construction
  • General management principles
  • Manufacturing
  • Quality control
  • Safety and health issues
  • Statistics

Careers in engineering management

Stevens Institute of Technology lists four prospective careers for engineering management graduates:

Architectural and engineering managers

These managers oversee a variety of tasks using their understanding of the two disciplines. They plan and oversee construction projects or supervise the operation, production, quality control, testing, and maintenance at manufacturing facilities. Their average annual income is around $145,000.

Computer and information systems managers

Computer and information systems managers, frequently referred to as information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers, manage computer-related operations within a company. They work in fields as diverse as electronic data processing, information systems, systems analysis, and programming. Their average income is $146,000.

Industrial production managers

Industrial production managers oversee the operation of manufacturing and allied plants. They plan, organize, and manage production processes for a variety of products, including cars, computers, and paper goods. The average annual income for industrial production managers is $108,000.

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Industrial engineers

Industrial engineers seek ways to mitigate or eliminate waste in the manufacturing process. They create effective systems that combine labor, machinery, supplies, information, and energy to produce goods or render services. Their average annual income is $95,000.

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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