Career Definition of a Research & Development Manager
A research and development (R&D) manager performs a number of highly important roles within an organization. They are responsible for research, planning, and implementing new programs and protocols into their company or organization and overseeing the development of new products. The industry in which a research and development manager works will likely have an impact on their specific duties, as these professionals often find employment in fields like healthcare, technology, business, and pharmaceuticals. The types of products produced by a pharmaceutical company are likely to be different from those produced by a technical company, so R&D managers have the ability to specialize according to their interests.
Regardless of the specific field, R&D managers are usually responsible for overseeing the entire development process of new products and programs within an organization, from the initial planning phase to implementation or production. You will need to keep track of all the costs related to the creation of these new products and decide what ideas are worth pursuing. The R&D manager should also stay informed on what is happening in the research and development field at large in order to make sure their company is up-to-date and current with the most advanced R&D developments. As a manager, you will also have important managerial and administrative responsibilities and may be in charge of overseeing employees.
|Educational Requirements||Bachelor's or master's degree|
|Job Skills||Leadership and management skills, budgeting ability, communication and presentation skills, ingenuity and creativity|
|Median Salary (2021)*||$98,294|
|Job Outlook (2019-2029)**||6% (for general and operations managers)|
Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
To become a research and development manager, you will generally need at least a bachelor's degree. The field in which you get a degree could be quite general, like human resources, finance, or management. However, if you know the type of industry in which you plan to work after you graduate, you could also study that field while in college. For example, if you know you want to work in healthcare or engineering, it may be wise to combine courses from both that discipline and a management or business discipline. Pursuing a master's degree may also increase your job prospects.
To be successful as a research and development manager, it is important to be able to see the big picture as you will have to envision projects from start to finish. At the same time, having a keen ability to pay attention to details is important, as R&D managers ultimately need to closely supervise every step of the development process for new products. Leadership and managerial skills are also important in this role, as well as the ability to communicate well with colleagues and lower level staff. A strong sense of creativity will also aid in the process of thinking of new product ideas and solving problems creatively.
Career and Salary Outlook
In terms of job growth, research and development managers fall under the broader category of general and operations managers, who are expected to experience 6% job growth from 2019 to 2029 (BLS). Individuals interested in working in this field are expected to face tough competition for these positions, as they offer high pay. According to PayScale, the 2021 median salary of research and development managers was $98,294 annually. According to the BLS, the top 10% of general and operations managers made more than $208,000 in 2019, so this position does offer significant opportunity for higher pay.
Those interested in research and development management may also find that the careers listed below share similar roles and responsibilities.