Engineering managers occupy a unique position in their industry. They combine their management expertise and engineering knowledge to lead teams of specialists in highly technical tasks. Most engineering managers focus on product development, materials management, production processes, and workforce reliability. Management Engineers must also possess strong communication skills so they can relate to a workforce made up of peers and subordinates.
Improved technology has allowed the arcane aspects of the engineering field to be magnified and easily studied by future engineers. The platform offered by the Internet and its ancillary services serve as an ideal viewpoint for engineering managers to evaluate the success and failure of systems.
The days of engineers being considered to only be part of the scientific community are long gone. Engineers transcend almost every facet of the workplace, whether in the government or in the private sector. As the popularity of engineering continues to grow, schools and institutions of higher learning have applied new technology to hasten the ease of getting an engineering education.
The opportunities afforded by a college degree in Engineering Management encompass a wide spectrum of fields ranging from the academic to the technical. Individuals that excel in this field possess a strong combination of scientific knowledge and a passion for problem solving. E-learning and distance courses provide the pathway for a satisfying career in the Engineering industry.
The breadth of possibility is one of the most attractive facets of this specialty. Fields that require this experience include:
Technical Consulting, and
Chemical Process Consulting.
The track that a prospective engineer specializing in management follows can vary greatly. New options provided by improved technology including web courses, have had a large impact on the time it takes for someone to attain their degree. Depending on the discipline, internships and apprenticeships may be available. These positions offer real world exposure to the world of Engineering and an idea of the skills necessary to be successful.
Online Training is also extremely helpful when completing this major. Students can view hypothetical situations in real time and craft management decisions that solve the problems presented. Online learning allows instant communication between student and teacher through group discussion utilizing chat room features, instant messaging, and email. Ensuring reliable communication between teacher and student is an integral part of the learning process and distance learning ensures there will not be a breakdown in communication.
The future for Engineers overall continues to be bright, according to CNN Money Magazine. Marilyn Mackes, Director of The National Association of Colleges and Employers said, "a number of disciplines are posting salary increases and many are regaining ground that was lost in the past few years in their salaries". According to a NACE Salary Survey, Engineering disciplines ranked in the top ten of all employment opportunities reviewed.
According to a survey by engineerk12.org the engineering profession enjoys salaries far above average. Many engineers report very high job satisfaction. Management engineers enjoy the opportunity to reap the benefits of their technical backgrounds while participating in lucrative business ventures as leaders and as entrepreneurs.
The diversity in the Engineering field has also continued to grow and blossom. Women comprise 19% of first-year engineering students. Meanwhile, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering has been actively recruiting minorities nationwide to become Engineers. As salaries and other professional benefits continue to increase we can expect the number of minority Engineers to grow.
Planning for your career as an engineering manager
Before embarking on the journey towards a college degree in engineering it is important to evaluate whether this career would be a good fit. Prospective engineers should possess some of the following traits:
A love for solving challenging problems.
The ability to visualize solutions using computer modeling and design tools.
Strong scores on standardized tests like the SATs.
The ability to apply abstract thought to problem solving.
Many professionals with a bachelor's degree in engineering can prepare themselves for management positions by enrolling in engineering management certificate programs. Most certificate programs allow students to work part-time, especially when attending classes online.
Many companies can tighten their belts by asking engineers to assume more management responsibilities. Engineering management certificate programs allow participants to build important skills that complement their technical abilities. By applying these new talents to their projects, graduates can increase profitability for their employers and expand their own earning potential.
Engineering management certificate programs also offer students the opportunity to build social networks, even when students meet in online discussion boards. These personal networks provide a wellspring of ideas and resources throughout a graduate's career, especially when looking for new jobs.
Many colleges now offer online certificates in project management and research to accommodate the needs of professional engineers who must take on more of the daily oversight responsibilities for their company's projects. In many cases, credits earned during the successful completion of an engineering management certificate program can be applied towards later graduate degree programs.
Graduate programs in engineering management allow professionals to build upon the skills they developed during their undergraduate years. Participants absorb the best practices from the business world while immersing themselves in cutting edge technologies and techniques from the field of engineering.
The higher-level coursework of a graduate engineering management program emphasizes project work and intensive research. Students collaborate in groups and study their own personal dynamics and management styles. Engineering management graduate students enjoy more direct access to faculty than they had as undergraduates. They often work closely with professors on groundbreaking research projects.
Candidates for a Master's degree in engineering management can expect to earn significantly higher salaries and land more promotion opportunities than their colleagues who hold only Bachelor's degrees in engineering. Many technology and pharmaceutical companies relish the idea of employing engineering management graduates, since line engineers tend to work more efficiently when reporting to an experienced engineer than when they must answer to someone they view as an uninformed, "pointy-haired" boss.
Professionals who want to segue from positions in the business world to careers in academia can enroll in Ph.D. programs in engineering management. Unlike other disciplines, where tenure track faculty members spend all their time on campus, many engineering management faculty continue their involvement with the private sector. In fact, many esteemed engineering management professors serve as board members and advisors to Fortune 500 companies.
Engineering Management Concentrations
Depending on his or her educational background and prior work experience, an engineering management major can usually customize his or her professional development by selecting a concentration of courses that complements his or her career. Engineering management students can increase their earning potential significantly by focusing on some of these hot specialties:
Crisis, Emergency, and Risk Management. When engineering management professionals in this sector do their jobs well, citizens hardly notice. That's because the very best crisis and risk managers use sophisticated computer models and training scenarios to prevent catastrophes. Government agencies and insurance companies employ skilled engineering managers to lead teams of researchers to fully understand weaknesses in construction, civil, and military programs.
Economics, Finance, and Cost Accounting. It may seem like overkill to hire an engineer to oversee a team of accountants. On the other hand, a skilled engineering manager can use his or her group dynamics experience to motivate their staff members while relying on their problem solving skills to find new processes to automate or streamline procedures.
Engineering and Technology Management. With the explosive growth of the technology sector, many engineers have seized the opportunity to enhance their management skills to pursue higher paying jobs. At the height of the tech bubble, companies were content to hire energetic newcomers. Today's mature technology businesses expect their managers to possess a deep understanding of the world's best practices for leadership and staff development.
Environmental and Energy Management. As oil prices skyrocket and fossil fuels become scarce, utility companies and auto manufacturers scramble to meet the energy needs of future generations.
Engineering management specialists
travel the world to deploy innovative new systems that generate power from wind, water, and other renewable sources. Other engineering managers lead teams that design efficient cars, computers, and generators, to prevent us of squandering precious resources.
Information Security Management. While previous generations feared the work of international military spies, today's threats involve industrial espionage. Intellectual property thieves try to steal company secrets, while hackers and thugs attempt to swipe customer identities. Engineering managers lead teams of experts who keep company data secure by staying many steps ahead of the criminals. Using techniques like encryption and diversion, engineers contribute to the law enforcement effort by drawing criminals into the open, where they can be caught and prosecuted.
Knowledge Management. Many workers in small offices get a handle on a company's trends by hanging around the water cooler. Today's international conglomerates often employ tens of thousands of workers, spread out over a few continents. When the water cooler is the size of the Pacific Ocean, engineering management specialists step in to design systems and processes that keep team members informed about their projects, no matter what country they happen to be in at the moment.
Management and Reliability of Infrastructure Systems. Engineering management specialists oversee the operation of power lines, canals, dams, drawbridges, and other vital pieces of infrastructure that we often take for granted. By leading teams of planners and researchers, engineering managers can maximize taxpayer investment in these operations by building reliable facilities that perform efficiently over the long haul.
Operations Research and Management Science. At first, this specialty can seem like an exercise in corporate navel gazing. In fact, engineering managers can analyze the ways that companies communicate and operate in order to make recommendations for efficiency. As a result, companies run more smoothly and employees enjoy greater personal satisfaction.
Software Engineering and Information Systems Management. Today's complex software requires development teams of hundreds or even thousands of skilled programmers. Engineering management graduates coordinate the efforts of specialists so that their final product runs smoothly.
A myriad of choices awaits prospective students in the Engineering Management field and most educational institutions offer a wide variety of courses to satisfy student's curiosities. Ranging from a Bachelor's Degree to graduate level Programs. The distance a student goes is only limited by their desire and online courses provided by most schools makes the learning process even easier and more convenient.
Managerial Science. This course provides a broad overview of the fundamentals of the main major concentration. Providing a strong foundation for adding the additional components of Engineering Management.
Marketing. Students in this course are exposed to the business and retail sides of Engineering Management. They learn how common business practices and communication skills apply to the Engineering field.
Accounting. Interested students will learn the fundamentals of money management and the integral accounting processes that keep the management of the daily workload functioning correctly.
Materials Handling and Plant Layout. Participants gain first hand knowledge of the system that transports and process products during a typical workday and how each area of the plant contributes to the overall success of the operation.
Computer Science. Technology plays a large part in any profession in today's society. This course well equips the prospective Management Engineer to grasp and utilize Information Technology during his or her career as an Engineer.
Physics and Chemistry. These courses are integral to a proper understanding of how Engineering works and how the theories are applied to daily tasks.
Systems Engineering. This course allows students to study in-dept the various processes and systems that allow the mechanisms of Engineering to function daily.
Engineering management students build skills in mathematics, the sciences, communications, and humanities. Therefore, an engineering management degree qualifies professionals for a diverse array of jobs, including:
Engineering Project Manager. This position has direct authority over the actions of everyone on the work site. A combination of engineering knowledge and business acumen is essential.
Senior Lead Analyst. This specialist ensures that engineering teams reach the most efficient outcomes on their assigned tasks.
Cost Systems Analyst. A combination of financial management knowledge and engineering skills is needed for this position. These individuals have a direct impact on the bottom line of large-scale projects.
Construction Management Engineer. A construction management engineer has authority over the planning and building of a wide variety of structures in the construction industry. Issues he or she deals with daily would include: manpower, materials, and machines.
Industrial Management Engineer. This specialist ensures that industrial emissions were processing correctly through the industrial production system.
Alfred Hitchcock, Neil Armstrong, and President Jimmy Carter all had very divergent careers but all began with an engineering degree. Engineers also enjoy the ability to be creative and be problem solvers in their fields. Each day presents a new challenge. Engineers also benefit from the ability to continue learning throughout their careers as new breakthroughs and methods of performing skills are ever changing.
Many engineering managers take the licensure exam given through the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Before earning the right to apply for the exam, an engineering manager must:
Complete a four year degree through an accredited program
Earn four years of qualifying experience
Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
Pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam
Most engineering management students have met most of those qualifications during their undergraduate studies, or in the work experience they gained between their undergraduate and graduate years. Though not required by every employer, professional certification can benefit engineering managers who can use their designation to inspire greater confidence among their staff members.
American Society of Management Engineers
The ASME serves as a national sounding board and forum for engineering managers to exchange information and interact with peers. The group also consists of several national chapters that meet regularly. The society is also committed to adapting new technologies to increase the flow of new ideas and encourage advances among the membership base. An important mission for the organization is the encouragement of the younger generation to pursue a career in Management.
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