How Can I Get into Engineering Management?

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by the University of Leeds

Progressing into Engineering Management is a natural step for many technical engineers, whichever engineering specialisation you work in.

Management roles in the engineering sector have many benefits like influencing change and innovation, multiplying your impact, and becoming multiskilled in management and technology. There has never been a more important time for businesses to have technically proficient managers, so filling this skills gap boosts the sector overall.

Ascending the career ladder and moving into managerial positions, although logical for career progression, can be intimidating, regardless of the industry you are looking to progress within. Therefore, knowing what route to take and what will suit you best in your field of engineering will put you in a great position when looking to move into a management role.

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What routes can you take into Engineering Management?

As with many industries, there are a few progression routes into management within the engineering sector. Predominantly, these routes involve gaining a high-level qualification (Level 7) to prove your management knowledge and capabilities. However, there is also the opportunity to progress naturally through the sector.

MSc Engineering Management

The first route into engineering management is the online MSc Engineering Management Master’s. This course is ideal for early-level engineers looking to accelerate career progression into management, or experienced engineers looking to gain up-to-date knowledge about trends and the sector in general.

The course aims to meet the needs of the constantly changing engineering landscape and close the skills gap within management across the sector. The course is designed and delivered by engineers, meaning modules are aligned to meet the demands of the industry through relevant engineering case studies.

Two engineers discuss a design shown on a computer screen

Specialist modules

  • Emerging and Disruptive Technologies
  • Business Strategy for Engineers
  • Decision Making for Engineering Managers

These specialist modules listed as examples are parallel to market needs to provide you with high-demand skills. Therefore, tested management strategies are supported with ground-breaking and innovative engineering theories and processes.

Using the knowledge gained on this course, you could influence the strategy of your organisation and impress senior leaders, identifying opportunities with new technologies, management techniques and approaches to the market.

PGCert Engineering Management

The second route into engineering management is the online Engineering Management Postgraduate Certificate. This, like the Engineering Management MSc, has been designed by engineers for engineers to fill the expanding skills gap in the engineering sector. This course is perfect for you if you are an engineer looking to accelerate your career, but do not have the option to commit to the full Master’s degree.

As a technical engineer, you are involved in implementing the innovative practices and ideas that filter down from senior members of staff. The modules on this course equip you with the specific skills to initiate that strategic thinking.

Using the skills and behaviours gained from the postgraduate certificate, you could display project management of major tasks across the business. You can show your control and innovation to senior colleagues, impressing them and gaining that sought-after promotion into management roles.

MBA

The third logical route into engineering management is a Master of Business Administration (MBA), one of the most common Master’s degrees in the world. The advantage of an MBA is that it can be applied to any industry and is a credible programme giving you management expertise, which you then apply to your role.

An MBA focuses on the business skills required to become a successful manager, such as:

  • business acumen
  • strategic thinking
  • managing people
  • global operations

On top of this, an MBA gives you the opportunity to network with managers across a wide variety of sectors, from engineering to marketing to education and many more. Case study examples included within an MBA relate to real-world challenges in a range of sectors.

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In comparison to an MSc in a specific subject, such as Engineering Management, the MBA programme content would be less specific, but you can adapt the general skills to suit the sector you work within or are looking to progress in.

If you want to gain a broader range of general management skills, an MBA would be a great option for a technical engineer looking to progress into a management role in engineering.

Two industrial engineers look at plans

Getting a promotion

The final way a technical engineer can progress into management is perhaps not the quickest progression method, as you are not necessarily backed with a professional qualification.

This method is to get a promotion from your technical role into a managerial position. Often this might take longer than taking a qualification because you will have to prove through working practices that you are a suitable candidate for promotion.

In some institutions, you might still need some basic training or qualifications in order to progress and stay up to date with industry trends. This will provide you with the confidence you may need to convince your seniors that they made the right choice promoting you. It could also be the confidence boost you need to settle into your new role quickly to start making an impact immediately.

According to the Engineering Institute of Technology, there are some key skills engineering employers look for in managers, such as:

  • engineering knowledge
  • communication
  • professionalism
  • planning
  • safety awareness
  • quality orientation
  • cultural adaptability

Some of the soft skills can span across management roles in many sectors, but safety awareness and engineering knowledge are explicitly evident for a technical engineer looking to progress into management.

The Engineering Institute of Technology further emphasise the need for engineers to be multitalented, not disappearing with a certain skillset, but being entrepreneurial and flexible to work across multiple industries within the engineering sector.

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Choosing the right route for you

Rising to the challenge of becoming a leader, regardless of the sector, is not a straightforward task. You, as a technical engineer, need to know what the business you are working for wants to see in a managerial candidate and map your route to management from there.

If you are looking for a specific engineering management qualification that gives you the skills and knowledge specific to the industry, considering an MSc Engineering Management or PGCert Engineering Management would be a great decision for you. If you are looking for more general management skills like soft skills, with the opportunity to apply it to the workplace, an MBA might be the right choice.

Check out other Engineering Masters offered by the University of Leeds.

If you can see your progression and it doesn’t require a physical qualification, or you feel you have all the knowledge and skills you need to progress, opting for that straight promotion decision might work best for you. However, having the qualifications behind you can give you that confidence to demonstrate your skills to seniors.

Whatever route you choose to take into management, make sure that you weigh up your options and make the decision best suited to your personal and professional development.

Find out more about Engineering Management at the University of Leeds.

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