More likely than not, you got into engineering for the opportunity to build things – Computer software, bridges, spaceships, medical equipment. Engineers get the rare professional opportunity to see their creations come to life before their eyes. Unlike other careers, engineering applies math and logic to produce something the world desperately needs. Why would you ever give that up?
You might change your mind after learning about engineering management. Like engineers, engineering managers get to contribute to the creation of necessary structures with the bonus of a pay raise and a more impressive title. In most engineering fields, there are few opportunities for advancement – unless you head to management. Therefore, you might consider the pros and cons of moving into management during your engineering career.
1. Putting Fingers in Many Engineering Project Pies
As an engineer, you are lucky to work on a few projects every year. While you might be able to devote yourself entirely to a single problem, working until a viable solution is found, the fact is that your impact is severely limited by your restricted time and effort.
Conversely, engineering managers have the opportunity to work on dozens of projects at once. Managers tend to supervise multiple teams, allowing them to advise on several projects throughout the year. After completing an online engineering program, you’ll be prepared to organize projects rather than simply carry them out; engineering managers will plan timelines, set budgets, and direct individual workers.
2. Finally Understanding Exactly What Clients Want
Clients tend to be exceedingly specific in regards to their needs, but engineers hardly ever meet them face-to-face. Instead, clients’ desires are filtered through dozens of administrators, eventually finding themselves in engineers’ inboxes with little explanation to guide the project. Dealing with clients’ needs without the opportunity to meet with clients is frustrating and exhausting.
As an engineering manager, you are responsible for meeting with clients, which means you can ensure that your team is never confused by garbled client instructions.
Engineering managers are present at initial client meetings and are integral in reviewing initial project specifications, so you can be certain from the get-go that your team can give clients what they want.
3. Giving Advice to Youngsters Like a Sage Engineer
Due to the stability of their career, many young people are diving head-first into engineering. You might not remember the insecurity and bewilderment of your first few years as a working engineer, but you can see it plainly on the newcomers’ faces.
Fortunately, as an engineering manager, you are in the perfect position to mentor and help young engineers become confident and competent in their jobs. Managers function as resources for their teams; you are experienced and educated enough to provide advice to any and all engineers who step into your office.
4. Applying Soft Skills Like Never Before
Engineers are rarely known for their empathy. It is a running joke that engineers don’t write or speak particularly well, and engineers tend to avoid especially creative endeavors that don’t also employ strict, cold logic. In short, soft skills are not many engineers’ strong points.
Yet, if you take pride in your emotional intelligence, your effective communication strategies, and your creative problem-solving abilities, you might feel at home in an engineer management position.
All managers are principally focused on people – engaging them, motivating them, etc. – which requires proficiency in many soft skills, but engineer managers must also use hard rationality to work with and alongside engineers.
5. Finally Getting Input on the Project Budgets
Often, engineers must move mountains with barely enough cash to shovel gravel. To make money, most engineering firms keep budgets tight, which severely restricts how engineers design and build. It causes many engineers to wonder who, exactly, is in charge of creating projects’ financial plans.
The answer, in part, is you, the engineer manager. Armed with information regarding expected expenses, you meet with other business and engineering leaders to create viable budgets for departments and teams. Thus, engineering managers can restructure budgets if they are prohibiting innovation to clients’ detriment.
6. Earning What You Are Rightfully Owed
Engineers are responsible for advancing civilization, and for that, they are paid better than most professionals. Still, many engineers feel their salaries do not match the time and effort they put into their jobs.
This is generally not true of engineer managers, whose median salaries hover around $132,800 – a potential increase of at least $50,000, depending on your engineering specialty. If nothing else, the salary of an engineer manager should convince you to take a step up the career ladder.