Director Vs VP Engineering

This article looks at the similarities and differences between the career outlooks, degree requirements, salaries, and responsibilities of directors of engineering and vice presidents of engineering.

Comparing Directors of Engineering to Vice Presidents of Engineering

From materials to aerospace, engineers are always working to develop products that make our lives easier. For the leaders in this field, directors and vice presidents, the job is about planning and hiring the best staff to get the project done. Directors of engineering are more involved in the actual manufacturing or building, while vice presidents of engineering are interested in making sure the product will sell.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Directors of Engineering Bachelor's Degree $137,903 +2% (Architectural and Engineering Managers)
Vice Presidents of Engineering Bachelor's Degree $160,591 +6% (Top Executives)

Sources: *Payscale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Directors of Engineering vs. Vice Presidents of Engineering

Engineers create new products and ways of building things to make them stronger, safer, faster, and/or longer lasting. Both directors of engineering and vice presidents (VPS) of engineering lead teams to create these products. They also control budgeting to make sure the plan is as cost effective as possible. Directors spend time actually building and creating alongside their teams, while VPs spend most of their days working with customers. VPs design to customer specifications, and directors ensure industry specifications are being met.

Directors of Engineering

Directors of engineering work with teams of engineers to ensure the technical and engineering activities of a project are implemented in a sound, correct way. They propose budgets based on the needs of new staff, training, and equipment, and they also hire the new staff on their teams. The director may be required to travel to the site of a project to supervise the team there, as well as offer hands-on assistance to make sure the physics and mechanics of the project are going as planned. When they are not in the field, these professionals tend to conduct business in the office.

Job responsibilities of a director of engineering include:

  • providing plans for new products and designs that meet industry standards
  • ensuring the team of engineers is accurate in their calculations for the technical, physics and chemistry aspects of a project
  • helping the staff when they have a question or complaint
  • remaining up-to-date on new developments in the technical industry through research

Vice Presidents of Engineering

Vice presidents of engineering answer only to the president and/or CEO of their company. They work to create proposals and prototypes of new designs and products that will sell to prospective clients. In fact, VPs meet with customers to sell them existing products, as well as to develop new products to customer specifications. When making a plan for a project, they should analyze consumer needs and available resources to decide if the project is possible, while also working to keep the cost as low as possible. After the plan is set, it is their job to hire staff and allocate resources for the project.

Job responsibilities of a vice president of engineering include:

  • approving budgets for hiring new team members, training, and materials for projects
  • appointing department leads and negotiating their contracts to ensure retention of talented staff
  • reviewing the performance of the team based on implementation, efficiency, and safety
  • implementing department goals and policies as leaders

Related Careers

If you have been looking into a career as a director of engineering, you may be interested in a job as an industrial production manager, since both of these careers require leadership skills and manufacturing knowledge. For someone interested in a position as an engineering vice president, you may want to research a job as a marketing manager, as these both require market knowledge and research.

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