Should I Become an Engineering Manager?
Engineering managers supervise teams of engineers during the design and development of products, such as electrical devices, computer hardware and medical equipment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of the engineering managers in 2012 worked more than forty hours a week. Typically, these professionals are responsible for making sure their teams meet production and design deadlines, and the job comes with a good deal of stress. However, salaries in this field are significantly higher than average, which may make the stress worth it to some engineers who are looking to move up and take on more responsibility.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree required; some employers may prefer a graduate degree|
|Licensure||Professional Engineer License (PE) is typically required|
|Experience||More than 5 years of experience generally required|
|Key Skills||Math, communication and organizational skills, computer programming and applications|
|Salary (2014)||$130,620 (Median salary for all engineering and architectural managers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Entering the engineering field requires a bachelor's degree in a specialized field of engineering from a school approved by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Common specializations include electrical, mechanical, civil or industrial engineering; however, instruction in one specialization may often include practical engineering applications and concepts that can be used in multiple engineering disciplines. Core engineering courses in a baccalaureate program may include design, statistics, thermodynamics, graphical communication and other topics. Bachelor's degree programs in engineering typically last four years, though some co-op programs may last longer.
Step 2: Pass First Licensure Exam
Depending on the type of engineering work, state-regulated licensure may be required. The licensing process begins by applying to the state licensing board for authorization to take the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Fundamentals of Engineering exam. This exam can be taken in the final year of an ABET-accredited undergraduate program. Upon passing this exam, individuals can work as an engineer in training (EIT).
Step 3: Complete Licensure
EITs must typically complete four years of entry-level engineering work under the supervision of a professional engineer. After this time period, they can apply to their state licensing board to take the NCEES Principles and Practices of Engineering exam. Most states grant a professional engineer (PE) license to those who pass this exam.
- Maintain Licensure. Many states require continuing education requirements be met to remain licensed. These requirements can be met through courses and seminars offered by professional organizations and universities.
Step 4: Advance to Management
As professional engineers gain experience and demonstrate technical knowledge, they may be assigned more complex projects, take on greater responsibility and eventually be promoted to engineering managers. As an engineering manager, they are responsible for making sure their teams meet production and design deadlines. In addition to engineering responsibilities, they also handle items like scheduling and budgeting.
- Consider a graduate degree. Many prospective engineering managers pursue advanced training by earning master's degrees in engineering management. These degree programs focus on developing technical and leadership skills. Courses may include engineering administration, project design, operations management, productivity and marketing.