Engineering and natural sciences management careers are very challenging and considered to be very rewarding. Managers use their engineering and sciences skills to oversee a variety of activities, including the coordination of designing and production activities. Skills in business management are just as important as engineering and science skills. Engineering and natural sciences managers often times supervise technicians, engineers, and scientists from a variety of disciplines.
Engineering and natural sciences managers must be excellent communicators. Quite often, they are required to work with others in getting tasks completed. They are required to participate in company and department meetings as well as training classes. They work with high-level managers in other departments, such as finance, marketing, and contracting. These collaborations are necessary for engineering and natural sciences managers to effectively coordinate their activities. Most of their duties revolve around managerial and administrative tasks. They hire new engineering and science personnel and assign engineers, scientists, and other personnel to perform certain tasks.
Salaries for managers are very competitive. Many of them earn six-figure annual salaries. However, there are many factors that come into play when calculating salaries.
Salaries may vary by specialty and level of responsibility. Engineering managers that work in scientific research and development services tend to make the highest salaries. Those specializing in navigational, measuring, electro-medical, and control instruments manufacturing earn the second highest salaries. Engineering managers working in the semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing sectors made the third highest salaries.*
Natural sciences managers specializing in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing made the highest salaries. The scientific research and development services specialty awarded managers the second highest salaries. The third highest were natural sciences managers who worked for the Federal Executive Branch.*
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for engineering managers was $122,810 in 2009. The top 10% earned more than $166,400. The middle 50% earned between $93,040 and $144,520. The lowest 10% earned below $75,350.*
The average salary for natural sciences managers was $127,000 in 2009. The top 10% earned more than $166,400. The middle 50% earned between $88,460 and $152,650. The lowest 10% earned below $68,640.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
High-level engineering and natural sciences managers often receive more benefits than non-managerial workers. Such benefits include an expense account, stocks-option plans, and bonuses.
Job Description and Outlook
Engineering and natural sciences manager positions require advanced technical and administrative skills. They perform administrative duties such as hiring workers, proposing budgets, and supervising engineers and scientists. Their work must be accurate because inaccuracies could cause hazards or wasted resources. They must be specialists in field they supervise. Managers may find themselves progressing to even higher positions within their disciplines. Some managers go on to work in management positions in non-technical departments such as marketing, finance, human resources, and sales. Firms that produce highly specialized products often hire engineering and natural sciences managers because of their technical backgrounds.
Engineering managers oversee the production, operations, quality assurance testing, and maintenance of industrial plants. They also oversee research and development teams who are responsible for the manufacturing of new products.
Natural sciences managers generally supervise chemists, agricultural scientists, biologists, geologists, medical scientists, and physicists. They may work on research projects, but more often they tend to oversee research and development projects and coordinate quality control, testing, and production activities.
According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, engineering and natural sciences management jobs are expected to grow just as fast as all other occupations. An 8% growth rate is expected through 2018. Job growth will continue to slow as companies outsource research and development services to consulting firms.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Educational Requirements
The minimum educational requirement for most engineering managers is at least a bachelor’s degree in an engineering specialty. Most managers work several years as engineers or scientists before being promoted to management positions. To hone their business skills, engineering managers often complete master’s degrees in business administration (MBA) or master’s degrees in engineering management. These degrees are typically completed before moving into management positions. Many firms offer tuition reimbursement benefits to their employees, and some firms offer courses on site.
Natural sciences managers usually begin their careers as scientists. They often have bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degrees in a scientific discipline. Some natural sciences managers who are interested in business management skills go on to complete MBA degrees. They continue to upgrade their knowledge by taking classes and attending training sessions.
There are no certifications required for engineering and natural management positions. Managers are encouraged to pursue voluntary certifications as a form of continual education. Certified managers are more likely to receive higher salaries and more lucrative positions.
- The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies offers a technician and a technologist certification.
- The American Society for Engineering Management offers the Engineering Management Certification.
- The Society of Management Engineers offers the Certified Manufacturing Technologist certification and the Certified Manufacturing Engineering Certification.
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