Engineering Management Careers

According to a United States Department of Labor report released in 2010, engineering management employment should grow by nearly 10 percent between 2010 and 2020. Employment growth for engineering managers hinges on many of the same economic factors that affect the people that the managers supervise. With an increase in public sector infrastructure projects, engineering management careers should remain in high demand. However, the increase in public sector infrastructure spending is somewhat offset by the trend to outsource engineering jobs on a project-by-project basis.

The job prospects for engineering managers brightens for online graduates who pursue leadership positions in environmental and biomedical engineering. Both engineering disciplines have seen an uptick in both private and public sector investment. Federal and state governments continue to pump money into ecosystem preservation systems that require engineer managers who possess highly technical skills combined with the ability to run projects as if they are running their own businesses. Engineer managers who can juggle financial planning, production management, and Internet marketing responsibilities typically reap the rewards of their engineering management careers.

Becoming an Engineering Manager

The first step towards engineering management requires you to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a specialized engineering field, preferably from a school sanctioned by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The most common specializations that undergraduate students pursue include industrial, electrical, civil and mechanical engineering. Bachelor degrees in engineering typically take four years to complete, although many co-op programs that involve hands- on experience last longer. After earning an undergraduate engineering degree, most states require you to obtain state regulated licenses. You must take the Fundamentals of Engineering examination, which many undergraduate engineering programs incorporate into their curriculum.

Becoming an engineering manager involves extensive on the job training. You must complete at least four years of entry-level engineering training under the guidance and mentoring of a professional engineer. Some engineering firms supplement the hands on training with additional classroom curriculum. After licensure, you take the next step towards earning an engineering management salary by garnering experience as a professional engineer. You work for several years until your technical expertise reaches the point when you are ready to pursue an online advanced engineering management degree.

Learning how to become an engineering manager has changed with the explosion of online Master’s in Engineering Management programs. LTU offers a comprehensive graduate degree in engineering management that allows engineers to gain additional technical knowledge on the job, while they attend school online. Students listen to classroom lectures and participate in team projects by downloading files from the comfort of their homes. The LTU master’s degree in engineering management requires the completion of 36 semester hours that students take at their own pace.

An MEM degree teaches fundamental business concepts, such as human resources, computer information systems, accounting, marketing, and finance. In addition to the core business coursework, LTU students who pursue engineering management careers learn how to set and reach technical goals, manage research and development teams, and verify the technical accuracy of a completed engineering project. Students also become skilled at recruiting engineers, directing and coordinating the design of engineering equipment, and creating budgets for long-term projects.

Engineering Management Salary

Are all of the additional academic pursuits worth it? Many engineers prefer to remain in their current positions because they already receive generous salaries. Yet engineers who augment their technical skills with business acumen earn much more than their engineering counterparts earn. The average engineering management salary varies depending on the industry and your location. In the United States, engineering managers earn between $75,000 and $166,000 per year. Salary numbers increase for managers who work on specialized projects that involve skills requiring more education than the standard Master’s in Engineering Management degree. Another factor that influences the income of engineering managers is the law of labor supply and demand. For example, Connecticut and California employ the most engineering managers per capita and thus, the abundance of engineering managers depresses average wages.

The three industries that pay the highest engineering management salaries are as follows:

  • Spectator Sports
  • Oil and Gas Extraction
  • Scientific Research and Development Services

In addition to the state engineering employment numbers, engineering managers can expect to face stiffer employment competition in the following engineering industries:

  • Architecture, Engineering, and Related Services
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Electronic Component Manufacturing

Engineering Management Career Outlook

After taking a series of hits during the Great Recession, the engineering profession has finally entered its year of rebuilding. Computer, petroleum, electrical, and environmental engineers along with physics majors with postgraduate degrees in engineering are seeing a surge in employment prospects. Thanks to production technology development, the post-Hurricane Sandy infrastructure update, and increasing concern over climate change and the energy crisis, unemployment for engineering graduates is down to 2 percent as of December 2012. The future of engineering careers has never looked rosier. But will this trend continue into the next decade?

If Bureau of Labor Statistics figures are anything to go by, the answer is a qualified yes. The projected rate of change in engineering employment over the next decade is 11 percent—about as fast as the average projected rate for all occupations in the US. This will, however, be dependent on specialization, with some fields outperforming others in terms of employability.

The Bad
While opportunities and competition for engineering jobs will remain in rough balance, domestic employment growth will be tempered by globalization in the form of outsourced (off-site) engineering work and the influx of skilled but lower-paid foreign engineers. Other limiting factors include declining or slow-growing manufacturing industries and future cutbacks in government funding for defense research and development.

The BLS expects a slower-than-average growth outlook for aerospace, agricultural, chemical, computer hardware, electrical and electronics, industrial, materials, and mechanical engineering jobs. Civil, health and safety, marine, mining and geological, nuclear, and petroleum engineering jobs, on the other hand, will undergo no significant increase or decrease within the next ten years.

The Good
The post-industrial American economy means a slow-but-steady decline in manufacturing in favor of the various service industries; however, engineers will still be called upon to design, improve, and test manufacturing processes and products. Engineering careers will remain relevant in manufacturing so long as manufacturing technologies continue to advance and employers continue to demand high output and productivity.
The two specializations that hold the highest promise in terms of growth in job outlook are biomedical (62%) and environmental engineering (22%). Engineering graduates will also remain in high demand in consulting and in R&D services industries—sectors that remain stable even during recessions.

Why Master in Engineering Management online at LTU?

While LTU is one of several online colleges to offer a degree that leads to a higher engineering management salary, the school possesses credentials that renowned education experts have praised. According to U.S. News & World Report, LTU ranks in the top 32 advanced engineering programs in the United States and in the top 10 of online schools that teach working engineers how to become an engineering manager. LTU sits in the engineering hotbed of Automation Alley, which gives students access to networking contacts and an advisory board of engineering experts. Faculty experienced in engineering management develops and teaches the MEM curriculum, which includes extensive on-site work projects where students lead engineer teams.