The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects roughly average occupational growth rates for engineering managers between 2016 and 2026. That said, jobs in this field offer exceptionally lucrative salaries. According to the BLS, engineering managers earned a median salary of $137,720 in 2017, or more than triple the median pay for all other occupations.
These roles require technical expertise and a deep understanding of financial, personnel, and project management. An online master's in engineering management equips you with this unique mix of knowledge and skills and allows you to schedule your education around the demands of a full-time job or family responsibilities. Online students also avoid expenses like room and board, often making distance education a more affordable option as well.
This page offers an overview of online master's in engineering management degrees, including information on common coursework, possible career paths, and helpful resources for engineering students and professionals.
Engineering managers generally earn significantly more than the national median wage, but those working in scientific research and development typically command the highest salaries. Engineering managers working in government service, meanwhile, earn about $9,000 less per year than their peers in other industries.
According to the BLS, the top 10% of engineering managers -- usually those with advanced degrees or extensive experience -- earn more than $208,000 annually. These professionals may receive additional forms of compensation, as well, such as bonuses and expense accounts.
|Industry||Annual Mean Wage|
|Scientific and Research Development Services||$167,650|
|Management of Companies and Enterprises||$156,380|
|Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing||$156,830|
|Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services||$144,870|
|Federal Executive Branch||$135,350|
The best online master's in engineering management programs lay the foundation for success in a variety of professional roles. For example, you may want to supervise the work of a team of biomedical engineers, leading the design of new medical equipment and devices. Or you may instead hope to manage a group of aerospace engineers, overseeing the development of spacecraft and satellites.
Regardless of the path you choose, careers in engineering management require exceptional analytical, organizational, and communication skills.
Annual Median Salary: $67,393
Manufacturing and industrial engineers study systems of production with the goals of eliminating waste and improving efficiency. They review product specifications and process flows, analyze management and control systems, and consult with customers and vendors on their needs and timelines. Some employers prefer candidates for these positions to hold master's degrees.
Annual Median Salary: $69,286
Mechanical engineers design, build, and test various machines and devices. For example, an auto research engineer may work to improve the fuel efficiency of a new model of car. A robotics engineer may instead design a light sensor that allows a drone to assess and navigate its surroundings.
Annual Median Salary: $89,490
Engineering project managers lead teams of specialized engineers working on specific projects, like the development of a new piece of agricultural machinery. Project managers must monitor budgets, assign staff, and make progress reports to upper-level management.
Annual Median Salary: $67,297
Project engineers usually work under the direction of an engineering project manager. They focus on meeting project goals and facilitating communication among team members. They may also act as a liaison to customers on technical issues that arise during development or implementation. Project engineers may benefit from graduate-level coursework in subjects like resource allocation.
Annual Median Salary: $137,720
Engineering managers oversee a variety of activities related to design, production, operations, quality assurance, and maintenance. They may supervise the work of multiple project managers, collaborate with senior leaders on organizational strategy, and create budgets for projects and departments. Many aspiring engineering managers pursue master's degrees to develop technical and administrative skills.
The nature of your master's curriculum depends on the program you choose and your professional aspirations. If you hope to lead a team of aerospace engineers, for example, you may benefit from taking more technically oriented classes in propulsion and aerodynamics. If you instead want to work across several disciplines within engineering, you may consider more general coursework in accounting and project management.
This course introduces students to the general methodology behind managing a project from concept to operational use, with an emphasis on how project managers shepherd this process. Topics covered include project life cycles, risk management, design reviews, the use of technology in project management, and reaction to critical problems.
Whether sharing expectations or providing direction, a successful engineering manager must demonstrate strong communication skills. In this class, students explore various techniques for effective written and oral communication and discuss common problems that arise in communication between supervisors and subordinates. Students also hone active-listening and presentation skills.
In this class, students review concepts such as financial and managerial accounting, net present value, direct and indirect costs, internal rates of return, and index financial statement analyses. They also study the principles of contract formation, negotiation, and financing, along with the unique requirements of contracting with the federal government.
Engineering managers should understand how to minimize legal risk and avoid expensive legal errors and when to consult legal professionals for advice. This course touches on areas of the law that apply to technical managers' work, including employment law, intellectual property rights, import and export control regulations, and proprietary business information.
With a focus on leadership theory and data-driven decision-making, this course prepares students for managerial roles in engineering and with technical organizations. Students learn to establish goals, motivate team members, maintain agility in the face of shifting circumstances, and evaluate progress. The course also emphasizes the importance of self-reflection among leaders.
After earning your master's in engineering management online, a professional organization may help you take the next step in your career. Through national conferences and regional events, these organizations offer opportunities to meet new colleagues and learn about professional opportunities. Many also host certification and continuing education programs, helping members stay abreast of the latest developments in their field. Below, you can read about some of the most prominent professional associations and resource organizations for engineers and engineering managers.
American Society for Engineering Management: ASEM works to advance the engineering and technical management profession. In addition to hosting an annual conference and publishing a scholarly journal, the society administers two formal professional certification programs.
IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society: As a branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, TEMS supports the continuing education and leadership development of engineering managers. The society primarily organizes industry forums and research conferences for its members.
National Society of Professional Engineers: Since 1934, NSPE has represented the nontechnical interests of licensed professional engineers. The society offers resources on how to earn licensure, online and in-person continuing education opportunities, and scholarships for aspiring engineers.
American Society of Civil Engineers: With more than 150,000 members across the country, ASCE serves as one of the largest professional organizations for engineers in the United States. The group administers a mentorship program for recent graduates, offers specialty certifications in fields like ocean engineering, and maintains a national jobs board.
American Society of Mechanical Engineers: Despite its name, ASME welcomes members from all engineering disciplines. The society publishes a monthly magazine, awards scholarships, and develops codes and standards. Members can also access a series of career development webinars.
Born to Engineer: Born to Engineer hosts a variety of resources for engineering students, teachers, and professionals, including advice from engineering entrepreneurs, instructions on how to write an effective cover letter, and a listing of podcasts in the engineering space.
The Managers Club: The Managers Club features a curated collection of books, podcasts, lectures, and events of interest to current and aspiring engineering managers. The site also includes more than 50 interviews with senior technical leaders.
EngineerGirl: An initiative of the National Academy of Engineering, EngineerGirl works to introduce young women to opportunities in the field. In addition to publishing career profiles and interviews with female engineers, the organization provides scholarships to both undergraduate and graduate students.
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