Is Management for Me?

Blocks in a Row

You've finished your engineering degree, landed your first job (or two) and may be wondering what's next. Where do you want your career to go? Should you continue down a technical track and perhaps get your PE?

Do you want to turn your engineering degree into a consulting business, or get another degree where your engineering expertise is useful, such as the law? Or should you try management, and go for your MBA, M.S. in Engineering Management, or enroll in a training program toward professional certification in project management, software development or engineering management?

Only you can answer these questions about your career. One thing is certain, however. Fewer and fewer companies are providing in-house training, and getting training and further education is increasingly going to be up to you. There are also many options available for continuing your education.

In this article, we are going to explore training options for engineering management.

What are the attributes of a good manager? In general, a good manager has good time management, exceptional written and oral communications skills, the ability to make decisions and communicate them, to listen to management and line staff, and an understanding of finance and marketing, to name a few. Beyond that, engineering managers must also be able to cope with the complexities of rapid changing work environments in science and technology in the multidisciplinary realm. They must understand and bring together the product/service development, manufacturing, systems engineering and project management that make the engineering enterprise happen.

To be an effective engineering manager you should have a skill-set of knowledge in the following areas:

  • Market Research, Technology Updates, & Environmental Scanning
  • Planning & Adjusting Business Strategies
  • Developing Products, Services, & Processes
  • Engineering Operations & Change
  • Financial Resources & Procurement
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Leading Individuals & Engineering Project Teams
  • Professional Responsibility & Legal Issues


Training Options for Professional Credentials

Although you could possibly work your way up the managerial ladder through first-hand on the job training, obtaining additional professional credentials through either an Advanced Degree or Certification could help you to validate your level of competency and give you leverage over your counterparts. Plus, it may assist you in becoming more promotable now sooner.

Certificate Programs vs. Certification

First, let's talk about the difference between a Certificate Program and receiving Certification. Certificate Programs recognize the completion of a series of pre-determined courses on a particular subject or focus.

Certification assesses your qualifications against a set standard of competence through an examination process. To maintain certification, and therefore, your skills, continuous education and assessment become a career-long journey.

Advanced Degrees

If you prefer a graduate degree, many universities offer the Master of Science in Engineering Management or you could take the more general route to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Both options deserve considerable research and consideration. You will need to meet specific admission requirements including passing admission test, submitting an application and writing an essay. It will vary from one institution to another. You will also need to determine whether you should attend a full-time or part-time program, if available.

Additional Preparation

Before you decide to participate in a structured program you may be interested in self-study. There are self-study programs to help you get familiar with some of the practical leadership/business topics that are taught in the graduate level programs. Plus, you can apply what you learn on the job immediately.

One thing is certain, however. Fewer and fewer companies are providing in-house training, and getting training and further education is increasingly going to be up to you.  


March 2011

by ME Today