Engineering Management

Engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities at manufacturing facilities, companies, government agencies, construction sites and anywhere that engineering work is done. They also plan, organize, review resources, and direct activities that have a technological or systems component. They bring to their efforts their expertise in one or more engineering and computing specialties and generally oversee a team of professionals from many disciplines.

They have many areas of responsibility from staffing, to budget control, to inventory management, to design and execution of new or improved products or systems. They need to consider many parts of a project simultaneously and apply both their engineering and technical skills as well as management abilities to meet the demands of their business.

What makes it unique?

Engineering managers can step back a bit and look at a product or system to determine overarching improvements that could be made. They continue to use their engineering skills but also rely on the engineering and computing skills of team members to achieve goals. They are responsible for a larger effort and are rewarded based on overall achievements.

Degree Connections

The following are examples of some accredited degrees leading to a career in engineering management:

Search our global database of accredited engineering programs.

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Click on the blue tabs to explore the field in more detail and learn about preparation and employment, the green tabs to be inspired by people working in engineering management and how they impact the world, and the orange tabs for ideas on how to learn more and you can get involved with activities, camps, and competitions!


Engineering managers apply the technical skills they have developed from their prior degrees or backgrounds to help solve problems and oversee efforts at the managerial level. Generally as they already have some engineering experience, they are able to review and evaluate the work and proposals of the other engineers on their team. Depending on the project, they will be responsible on a daily basis for maintaining talent, promoting team members, reviewing timelines, improving processes, evaluating the integration of technology into an effort, and reporting to supervisors or clients as to project status.

Some of the tasks they might work on include:

  • Making and overseeing plans for new products and designs
  • Determining staff, training, and equipment needs
  • Evaluating and approving budgets for projects and programs
  • Hiring and supervising staff
  • Leading R&D efforts
  • Reviewing the technical accuracy of other’s work
  • Overseeing a project from start to finish

An average work week is generally 40 hours in this field, with extra time needed if there is a deadline or a new product or service launch. Their workplace is determined by the projects they focus on…so if it is the manufacture of a new product, they might spend time at the manufacturing facility…if it is a construction effort, they might be on the job site. They will, however, likely spend a good amount of time in offices and meetings.

Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969, carrying Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin into an initial Earth-orbit of 114 by 116 miles. While an estimated 650 million people watched Armstrong step on the moon, Nasa estimates that a total of 400,000 men and women across the United States were involved in the Apollo program.

Considering this effort from an engineering management vantage-point, that is a lot of people and individual engineered products and systems that had to be managed in order for man to land on the moon!  Each aspect of the effort had engineering managers to oversee their own part of the puzzle, and many engineering managers oversaw the entire effort.

The 400,000 included engineers, scientists, contractors, mathematicians, food service staff, accountants, medical specialists, mission controllers, programmers, and even people who designed and sewed the space suits. IBM had more than 4,000 people working on the Apollo 11 mission, and other companies also had dedicated staff to support the effort.

The Apollo program required an incredible amount of coordination, with so many products, systems, and processes being developed concurrently – that all had to work perfectly! The overarching engineering management was an amazing feat!

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Engineering managers are employed in most industries where engineers are employed. They will either be promoted to manager within the company they currently work for, or be hired into the role. A large percentage of engineering managers are employed in manufacturing as well as in civil related fields such as construction, infrastructure, or related services. They are also employed in government organizations, as well as research and development firms where they oversee larger efforts.  Some work as management consultants, coming in to a project to offer a fresh set of eyes on a challenge not met by current staff.

Many of the newer jobs for engineering managers are tied to technology or computer integration into an existing effort.

For most engineering careers:

  • a bachelor’s degree is required Image
  • a master’s degree may be recommended for those specializing or interested in management
  • students may also start with a related associate degree and then move on to a bachelor’s when they have settled on a degree path.
  • many students are required to participate in a co-op program while at university to gain real world experience in their chosen field.
  • education doesn’t really stop…engineers need to stay current as technology changes and materials and processes improve over time.
  • many professional societies offer certificates and coursework to support continuing education for their members.

Most programs in engineering management are at the Master’s and PhD level and support students who have already built a base of engineering or computing education and experience – but wish to move into management functions.  Courses will include product innovation and design management, engineering project management, financial and managerial accounting for engineers, operations management, manufacturing strategies, managing employees, and other special topics.

In the video to the right Purdue University engineering management student Bhagyashree Ganore explains what it is like to study engineering management.

It is important to select an engineering degree that has been accredited to meet basic standards.  At the Master’s and PhD levels, some universities choose to not accredit, so there may be fewer accredited programs listed.  If a program you are considering is not accredited, check into the program by talking to graduates, employers and others to determine if you will gain the expertise you require from the program. For example, Tufts University provides a Career Impact Report on their Master of Science in Engineering Management. Find out more and browse TryEngineering’s global database of accredited engineering and computing programs.

Be Inspired

One of the best ways to explore what it might be like to work in engineering management is to learn about people who contributed historically or are currently working in the field.

Around the globe energy management is an ongoing challenge. Engineering managers work in every country, every day, to solve challenges such as increased energy demands, protection of the energy supply, weather disasters, evaluation of new energy systems, gauging and improving energy efficiency. gudron

While support staff and departments complete their own tasks to make sure the energy system is up and running, it is the engineering managers who address the larger questions.  They are responsible for considering when to institute an equipment upgrade without having customers lose power. Or to plan in advance for emergency repair plans when weather causes widespread outages. Or how to introduce wind power to augment existing power sources. They have to consider all aspects of larger initiatives to make sure that energy systems are reliable and as cost effective as possible.

Engineering managers might conduct energy audits and look as how green technologies might benefit a local community. They consider and plan for smart grid systems and grid modernization, and determine expanded staffing needs for new initiatives. They work with local and national governments on compliance issues and manage the evaluation of different energy sources such as geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind, thermal energy and bioenergy.

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Try it Out:

Clubs, competitions, and camps are some of the best ways to explore a career path and put your skills to the test in a friendly-competitive environment.


  • Many schools have robotics clubs or opportunities for students to get together and work on challenges that provide a good basis for any engineering degree. Robotic competitions incorporate some of the skills needed by engineering managers as there is a task that needs to be solved, a team of individuals with different skills, limits on time and materials, and funding and scheduling limitations. Participating or managing a large task like preparing for a robotics competition will be good experience in engineering management.


  • FIRST Robotics Competition teams design, program, and build a robot starting with a standard kit of parts and common set of rules.
  • American Society for Engineering Management Annual Engineering Management Student Case Competition challenges students to represent a feasible solution to a relevant case study problem that incorporates the discipline of engineering management.
  • MEMPC presents the first Design & Pitch competition, organized by MEMPC students, for MEMPC students, to showcase the unique skills of engineering management graduate students.
  • Master of Engineering Management Programs Consortium Design and Pitch Competition challenges student teams to design concepts and solutions to satisfy the energy needs of an emerging urban, innovative city “Utopia”, whose goal is to have 50% of its energy comes from sustainable sources by 2030.


  • TryEngineering Summer Institute, US: Attend the TryEngineering Summer Institute to further your core engineering skills.
  • Many universities offer summer engineering experiences. Reach out to your local university’s engineering department to see what they offer.

Did you know you can explore engineering management in your community? Consider the checkout system at your local grocery or market. This is a system that when developed or improved requires a range of engineers and computer specialists working together with others under the supervision of an engineering manager. Think about your local checkout system and consider all the different tasks that need to be functioning for the overall system to work – and all the different tasks and equipment that the engineering manager had to be sure all worked concurrently:

  • How does the scanning system work? What equipment is needed? What software is needed? What systems or procedures need to be in place to make sure all food items are scanned and available electronically for purchase?
  • How does the self-checkout system work? How about scanning while shopping systems? How is the equipment and software different from that used by the checkout staff? Do you think the software needs to interact related to inventory management?
  • How does the inventory system work? What equipment and software is needed? What training is needed? How does this system tie into the payment and checkout system?
  • Does this store accept orders placed online or via an app before pick up at the store? Who developed the app? How do the available products show in the app? How is that updated? How often is it updated? Do you think the app was developed by the grocery store chain, or through an independent software developer? Who is responsible if the app is down? What happens if orders are lost or incorrectly charged?
  • What system and equipment is required for paying for groceries? Are there options for cash payment? Credit cards? Touchless payments? Checks? What equipment is needed? What software is needed? What happens if the electronic payment system breaks down?
  • What training is required for staff to be able to use these systems? How does the manager know whether the staff truly understand the process? Is training different for new and existing employees?
  • How does the conveyor belt work? What happens if it breaks down?
  • What systems or plans are in place in case of a software error? What about if the power went out? What if the internet was down? What systems would have been developed by the management team to ensure people could still purchase groceries?

Find out more:

Be sure to reach out to professional societies focused on engineering management where you live. Not all will offer membership to pre-university students, but most offer groups for university students, and certainly offer online resources to help you explore the field.

Engineering management is often a focus group or section within an overarching engineering association, but others are specifically focused on management. Some examples of groups focusing on engineering management:

Some resources on this page are provided or adapted from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Career Cornerstone Center.