What Does a Career in Engineering Management Entail?
Engineering is necessary in many industries, whether it's behind the scenes or part of the everyday function of a company. It is practically impossible to go a day without encountering an infrastructure object designed by an engineer including computers, lamps, automobiles, construction, toothpaste, railroad tracks, and airplanes. Engineering uses math, science, and technology for problem-solving by determining the ways in which things function and creating practical solutions to issues. However, the focus on problem-solving doesn't mean that engineering management isn't a necessity. Engineering management graduates have learned not just the basics of engineering, but also how to handle the people that make engineering projects successful and the project management and business management techniques that keep whole departments happy and up to speed. While you might find yourself in an engineering management career without the degree, your certain to have better access to engineering management jobs after you earn a master's in engineering management degree and develop leadership skills, project management and supply chain management knowledge, and skills directly tied to engineering and technology management.
With the ever-changing world of technology and innovation being their main focus, the engineering field is in constant need of highly skilled engineering management personnel. It's possible for all types of specialized engineers to pursue an engineering management degree including those specializing in architectural, aerospace, electronics, operations research, industrial, construction, computer engineering, project engineering, electrical, mechanical engineering, systems engineering, electronics, civil engineering, and materials science engineers. The growth of innovation, construction, and other engineering sectors have made it so that engineering management graduates are in high demand, and will continue to be in demand for years into the future. They can find positions in which they lead technology projects, offer their technical expertise in engineering economics and engineering statistics as architectural and engineering managers, consult on technology management and engineering projects, quality control and quality management, and more.
Components of A Successful Career In Engineering Management
Technical and engineering employees often require a unique approach to management. Engineering management majors will require a specific understanding of and experience in the engineering discipline which they are to manage, such as mechanical engineering or computer engineering. In addition to engineering skills such as mathematical, analytical, and organizational skills, engineering management professionals must possess the soft skills required to mentor and motivate professionals of the technical variety.
Communication is an essential component for any managerial leader. Such managers must be able to lead by example and communicate with other departments and senior business management executives.
Emotional intelligence develops trust and comradery amongst teams and leadership skills are a must. Engineering managers must be willing to have an open door and answer questions despite the fact that it may disrupt their own work.
People skills and technical skills are also required. Engineering managers must be able to balance both technical problems and the best ways to interact with different team members at the same time. This is why an engineering management degree exists.
Macro management will be necessary on occasion. Engineering managers have to know when to step in and help and when to back off and let their team work independently. They will also set policy and best practices to make sure a whole company or department runs smoothly with the current and future team.
How to Become an Engineering Manager
The path to engineering management begins early. It is important to select a mentor the moment you know this is your desired profession.
You will require at least an online associate degree. However, many companies prefer a bachelor's degree in engineering management, even for entry-level positions.
Choose whichever path works for you pertaining to campus classes, online classes, or a combination of the two course types. They will likely have the same content in terms of academics, so the main aim is to take your general education, core courses, and electives in topics such as business and management or project management, engineering design, or systems engineering in a timely manner. An engineering management degree is likely to be hard to find at the associate level.
It is also imperative that the school you choose is accredited, as this will greatly affect which jobs and companies you can pursue. If you can, find a college of engineering or school of engineering that is ABET accredited, as this is the gold standard in accreditation for engineering management programs and really any business management degree.
Typical Online Engineering Management Degree Requirements
An online associate degree requires roughly 60 credit hours for completion. This will vary based on the school.
An online bachelor’s degree typically requires 120 credit hours from a 4-year college or university for completion. This may vary if you transfer schools.
An in-person or online master’s requires roughly 30 credit hours for completion. This may be broken down into core courses, elective courses, and fieldwork. A non-research degree, such as one in business management or an engineering management program, may require 34 credit hours with a combination of core classes, elective classes, and an exam.
Typical Engineering Management Certifications Needed
While an engineering management degree is required for most positions, certifications are not commonly required for jobs, but they are a way to demonstrate to potential employers that you are serious about your continual learning and new developments in engineering. This way, you will continue to be seen as an industry expert long after you finish your undergraduate degree or even an online Master of Science in Engineering Management. These programs might include engineering management courses or engineering courses in specifc fields, such as mechanical engineering.
It's possible to pursue certifications in skill development, such as engineering management leadership, computer science or IT project management, or a lean six sigma black belt. Or you might consider a professional association certification, such as the Engineering Manager Professional Certification from the American Society for Engineering Management.
Academic Standards for an Online Engineering Management Degree
As with any job, the higher your grade point average (GPA) the better your chances for gainful employment. Most employers will require a minimum of a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for an online bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or a similar field of study. If you wish to pursue any online master’s degrees in engineering management, most reputable postgraduate, accredited degree programs will require the same to be considered for admission into the program. It is also imperative to have at least two years of real-world working experience before you apply for a postgraduate degree. People with a technology degree will require a 3.8 from their online bachelor’s and up to 8 years of work experience. You will still have an opportunity for an entry-level position and entry into a master's engineering management degree if you earn at least a 2.50 or higher.
Exam/Experience Needed for an Online Engineering Management Degree
You will not require a higher learning exam to work in engineering management nor to pursue an online Master of Engineering Management program. Industry professionals consider work experience to be of far greater value for such positions and higher learning opportunities. Be sure to choose a specialty on which to focus your education and work experience, as that is likely to be the area in which you will work as an engineering manager.
Online Engineering Management Fields of Study
Industrial Engineering Management
Industrial engineering applies engineering, math, and science to highly complex and sophisticated systems integration and operational procedures as a way to eliminate waste. These individuals must possess a wide range of skills and know-how in a number of disciplines to be able to integrate numerous system types. This might include information systems, logistics, resource allocation and scheduling, employee safety, analysis and design facilities, inventory control, business processes, production systems planning and control, service processes, and quality improvement.
Construction Engineering Management
Construction engineering management is directly related to the title of the field of study which is construction projects. These projects might include the designing, planning, constructing, and managing of infrastructure, such as bridges, dams, freeways, railroads, tunnels, and much more. The overall goal of construction engineering management is to safely construct quality infrastructure in a timely manner at a fair and practical price. Construction engineering professionals must be able to interact within all aspects of a construction project from the beginning design stages to the final construction stages and construction engineering courses will help to develop these skills.
Electrical Engineering Management
Electrical engineering management has an emphasis on electricity and technology. Electrical engineering professionals will work with a diverse array of projects, including small microchips, components, devices, electrical systems, power station generators, and test equipment. These individuals might even design and develop radar and navigation systems, communications systems, or electric motors. They will also supervise manufacturing and test projects during various stages. It is important to note that an electrical engineer is different from an electronics engineer.
Online Associates Degree
An online associate’s degree will permit any individual to enter the engineering management career path as an intern, in an entry-level job, or as an assistant manager for people with enough work experience. The courses will focus on the fundamentals of engineering management.
Here are a few example courses:
- Engineering and Ethics
- Physics I
- Programming Essentials
Online Bachelor’s Degree
An online bachelor’s degree provides a degree holder with a greater wealth of knowledge with which to begin their career. As such, these individuals will be more qualified for many positions. Students enrolled in these online degree programs will be required to have a far more significant understanding of engineering principles and management practices.
Some example online courses include:
- Industrial Accident Prevention
- CAD Fundamentals
- Applied Probability and Statistics
- Organizational Behavior
- Systems management
Online Master’s Degree
Online Master’s degrees in engineering management programs have a prerequisite of an online bachelor’s degree and work experience, and it prepares program participants to be exceptional; leaders within their field. These courses will become more in-depth in specializations, technology, and business areas so that graduates are prepared to be successful managers upon completion.
Some online engineering management courses will be more research based, and much of the core courses will focus on business and managerial practices as related to specialized fields, such as:
- Management of Technical Organizations
- Statistical Methods and Data Analysis
- Communication Systems Engineering
- Decision Making with Uncertainty
- Discrete Systems Simulation
- Technical Enterprises
Online Associates, Bachelors and Master’s Cost with Range for Each
The cost of a degree is highly dependent upon the school you choose. The cost will also vary based on the type of degree you seek and the number of years to complete the program. Below you will find a range of cost for each degree:
|Online Associate’s Degree||Online Bachelor’s Degree||Online Master’s Degree|
|$7,140 to $29,174||$39,880 to $138,960||$30,000 to $120,000|
Potential Careers & Salaries for Engineering Management Grads
The level of degree completed does impact pay for most positions. A graduate with an online master’s degree will likely earn an average of $30,000 more a year than someone with an online associate’s degree and $10,000 more than an online bachelor’s degree holder. And a person with an online bachelor’s degree will likely earn an average of $17,500 more than someone with an online associate’s degree.
It is possible to close the pay gap. If someone has years of experience and completes an online associate’s degree with relevant industry and professional certificates, they can earn significantly more. A person with an online bachelor’s degree and years of experience can earn just as much as someone with an online master’s degree and little experience. For a person without an online master’s degree who wishes to advance more quickly and to receive better pay, certificates are a critical component to reaching such goals.
Engineering Management Median Salaries by Occupation
Most people have to start with an entry-level position, and as such, you can expect to have a variety of jobs prior to achieving the title of Engineering Manager. Most engineering management positions require years of experience within a specialized field of engineering before earning the title. You might begin as an analyst or work on special projects and then become a lead and work your way up to a managing position. The path of each person will be unique to their goals, aspirations, and the organization.
Salary by Occupation
Annual Median Salary by Occupation
|Engineering Project Manager||$64,600||$90,500||$115,700|
|Engineering Group Manager||$93,900||$105,200||$128,100|
|Construction Engineer Manager||$66,800||$89,900||$105,400|
|Industrial Engineer Manager||$83,400||$101,000||$108,800|
Important Questions to Ask (FAQ)
How long does it take to earn an Engineering Management bachelor’s degree online?
Anyone who pursues an accredited online engineering management bachelor’s degree taken online might expect 7.5 weeks per class with a total of 75 classes and 120 credit hours. If you are able to follow this outlined curriculum as a full-time student, you should finish in 4 years. It is possible to finish more quickly with summer classes, and it is possible to take it more slowly if you have work or family obligations at the same time.
How much does an online Engineering Management bachelor’s degree cost?
An online bachelor’s degree in engineering management will vary significantly based on the type of university you select. Some online schools are likely to have a similar cost per credit fees; however, with an online school, you will save money on travel, food, housing and other areas.
The following is an average online bachelor’s degree cost in the US:
- Public four-year school, in-state tuition cost is $9,716 annually
- Public four-year school, out-of-state tuition average cost is $21,629 annually
- Private four-year school average tuition cost is $35,676 annually
Does the online school have the major(s) you’re considering?
Before you begin your university selection process, it is essential to consider whether or not the schools offer an academic path to your end goal of becoming an engineering manager. The courses offered within majors and minors will shape your career development.
If you wish to pursue a specialized field of engineering, make sure that field is offered as an engineering degree. If it is not, be sure you can minor in it or take a few electives to gain some academic experience in the niche you prefer.
How many students graduate “on time,” in four years?
The ability to graduate in four years is an important factor for most undergraduate students. In many instances, the ability to achieve on-time graduation status is in your control. Four-year colleges and universities are listening to the concerns of students and making changes accordingly. Schools that have implemented on-time graduation initiatives have seen an increase of roughly 20% since 2012. Many reputable, accredited schools experience on-time 4-year graduation rates of over 70%. You can find the exact graduation rate of your preferred schools on the Department of Education’s College Scoreboard website.
What kind of accreditation does then online program hold? How is it regarded in the field?
Two types of widely accepted accreditation exist for all schools. Those are regional and national accreditation. Schools with regional accreditation are often considered to have greater influence over potential employers and higher learning institutions. Regional accreditations typically have higher standards and more difficult measurements than national accreditations. This is a highly important distinction for people looking to work for prestigious and highly reputable companies. It can even affect the pay of the position for an engineering manager.
Software and technology skills are quite important within all facets of engineering, including engineering management. You will be required to know a variety of software design applications, such as computer-aided drafting and computer simulation programs. The most popular programs and applications might change from one employer to another and every few years as technology advances.
You will also require a solid background in communication applications, word processing, and proper email correspondence. Degree courses should prepare you for these skills in many ways; however, some students pursue certificates or elective courses to learn the best ways to use various design software applications.
Engineering Management Scholarships
Hypertherm International HyTech Leadership Scholarship
Deadline: March 1
The American Welding Society provides one scholarship dedicated to students pursuing an online master’s degree in engineering management with an emphasis on welding. The applicant must at least be active in their senior year of college or possess an online bachelor’s degree with a minimum of a 2.8. The scholarship is worth $2,500 for tuition.
Amount: $1,000 (per year)
Deadline: February 9
The Florida Engineering Society funds a scholarship for engineering management students in at least year three of their online bachelor’s degree. The scholarship is funded through the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), and recipients must be a US citizen. The value of the scholarship is $1,000 a year. Those who are awarded this scholarship become eligible for the ACEC $5,000 scholarship.
Robert F. Sykes Scholarship
Deadline: April 1
Kansas State University provides this scholarship for distance education students pursuing an online master’s degree in engineering management. Eligible participants must already be accepted to the online master’s program at Kansas State and hold an online engineering bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering department. Those who apply must also have at least one year of professional engineering work experience and a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.
American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association Scholarships
AREMA provides several scholarships valued at $10,000 in total for those pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees with an interest in railway engineering. A few examples include the Light & Density Short Line Railways Scholarship worth $1,500 and the Communications & Signals Functional Group Scholarship for $2,000. All applicants must maintain a 2.0 grade point average and interview with the organization.
Professional Engineering Management Organizations
American Society of Engineering Management
The ASEM is a professional society with global membership that works to promote and advance technical and engineering management professions. The organization focuses on the challenges of managerial professionals working in technical and complex businesses with highly knowledgeable team members. Such managers might work in a variety of areas, such as biology and chemistry, information technology, operations, or manufacturing. The organization was founded in 1979.
IEEE Technology and Engineering Management
IEEE work to improve humanity through excellence and technological innovation. This is a global organization with significant industry impact and members are featured in publications, conferences, and more. Members often participate and offer insights and feedback. The focus of the group is on improving the global impact of technology and engineering through innovation whilst following compliance regulations and remaining highly ethical.
Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering
ATMAE is a professional organization for innovative individuals who work in the areas of applied engineering, management, and technology. The members discuss ideas, applications, and research that are able to impact the future in a positive manner. Participants also work with accredited educational institutions, host a conference, provide scholarships and awards, host a job board, and offer a career center for members so that everyone can develop their professional lives to the fullest.
Choosing an Accredited College
Accreditation is essential to quality education and degrees that assist in realizing career goals. Accreditation is the evaluation process of colleges and universities as a whole, and the process can also apply to specific programs within a school, such as the Engineering Department. All higher education in the US is based on accreditation, and accreditation is required for colleges and universities that utilize federal student loan programs from the Department of Education.
The Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology and the Engineering Accreditation Commission are two of the most respected and accepted accreditation agencies for all engineering degree types, including engineering management. Nationally accredited degrees are still acceptable and have value; however, they are not as useful, as it can be difficult to transfer credits from a nationally accredited school to a regionally accredited school.
Online vs. On-Campus vs Hybrid
The choice of platform for an engineering management education is entirely up to the student and their needs. The educational platforms consist of on-campus learning, online learning and a hybrid experience that is a combination of online and on-campus options. Each possesses numerous advantages. Such advantages will be unique to the student and their educational needs, home life, and preferences.
Online learning is ideal for students who are unable to easily attend classes on an actual campus, whether it be full- or part-time. Several schools offer engineering management degrees online either partially or fully. For people who have jobs, own a business, or are a primary childcare provider, online education is an excellent alternative to be able to minimize disruption to one’s routine.
Online education possesses additional benefits in the form of flexibility and the ability to access schedules, information, and professor feedback anywhere the Internet is available. Online students may also save money on housing and expenses. And some people simply learn better outside of a physical classroom.
Traditional learning, such as on-campus learning, is based around a physical classroom where a professor or instructor speaks to a group of students in the same room at the same time. This type of education is ideal for many who prefer a more personal, interactive experience. It is also possible for students to combine online education with on-campus education for a hybrid experience as long as they live close enough to allow them to commute to campus occasionally.
Frequently Asked Questions
What degree must I have to work as an engineering manager?
This will greatly depend on your state’s requirements for engineering licensure, as well as the requirements of your employer. They may also be required by the state to ensure that those who work in their company have appropriate licensure or certification for their work. However, in many positions, a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) and experience can help you to earn a management position. Adding a master’s degree in engineering management to this can only help if you’ve had trouble moving up in your career. These degrees focus on providing you with management theories and techniques but may also address specific issues you might run into as an engineering manager, such as dangers your employees could face on a manufacturing floor and more. That is why these degrees are so valuable – to those who earn them and the companies that hire them.
What’s the most important thing I will learn in an engineering management degree?
While graduates from these programs may argue about which part of their schooling was the most important, many would say that it was learning about the business side of their career. After all, knowing all about engineering may not help you manage people. It certainly won’t help you discuss important issues with those who work as executives of your company, and it may or may not give you an understanding of all the important, behind the scenes work that is done at the top echelon of a company. With this degree, you learn the ins and outs of the business side of things. You can more easily understand how they mesh together and why some things that seem unimportant to your engineers or manufacturing floor workers is actually very important to the business as a whole. It teaches you the language of business.
Does the College Have Post-Graduate Job Placement Help & Assistance?
The school selection decision should be based on a number of short-term and long-term goals. The school should provide education for the desired degree and career guidance, such as career counseling, job assistance, mentorship programs, corporate partners, and an extensive alumni network. It is also ideal if the school hosts networking events for both undergraduates and graduates to meet in person.
Why You Need to Consider the Overall National Rankings of the College and The Effects on Your Career or Salary
College rankings can be vitally important to employee selection and recruitment by employers. Therefore, whatever ranking is assigned to a college or university can have a huge impact on your future success or at least your pay in your first couple jobs.
The ranking may be less important to you than other factors like faculty experience, on-campus resources, or the school culture. And the things on which ranking are based, such as the income level of recent graduates, will not likely predict whether a student will do well in classes or enjoy the time spent in school.
Each student must decide the weight to give to rankings and salary considerations. When selecting among school choices that may seem otherwise equal, the ranking can be an excellent deciding factor because it relates to the investment and the return on investment for a college degree.