Inside Engineering Managers Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"More A Career Than A Job...
The retention rate at telecommunications companies is high, follow the rules and stay on top of things and you can make a career out of it. Most people who start at entry level positions will make it to 1st and 2nd level managers by the time retirement is an option." (Telecommunications Project Manager; 2014)

Career: 14 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Business - Accounting at Citrus College in California; completed Associate degree in 2003

"Continuing Education Not A Priority...
I was surprised at how little effort people put in to learn new things and advance themselves. It would seem peers in my industry are satisfied to coast along with their current knowledge and have problems adapting to new technology." (Systems Engineer; 2013)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, male
School: Studied Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech in Georgia; completed Bachelor degree in 2001

"Much More To Mechanical Engineering Than Machine Design...
I was surprised to find a whole new area of mechanical engineering after graduating and looking for work. My focus, and the schools, on machine design kept me from getting more helpful classes and experience while in school." (Project Engineer; 2014)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in South Dakota, male
School: Studied Mechanical Engineering at South Dakota School Of Mines & Technology in South Dakota; completed Bachelor degree in 2005

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Manager Engineering: "Best part: It's new, it's interesting, and it changes every day. We are always trying to discover or integrate a new technology into our design, yet keep it cheap (it's like trying to make your cell phone better and cheaper at the same time!). We also get to deal with a lot of other teams and companies, which is very interesting. Worst part: Internal demands and roadblocks to our ideas. There are teams that don't like what we do because they are threatened by new ideas, or they want to put demands on us that are not part of our job (because they don't know where else to go)." (2011)

Principal In Charge Of Engineering Consulting Firm: "The best part of the job is the design aspect. Every project is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. And when it is done correctly, the drawings resemble a pretty picture. It is very satisfying to see what you've designed actually being built. The worst part of the job, is reviewing submittals. Once a project is under construction, the contractor submits information to me about exactly what equipment he is purchasing to install on the project. Although the reviews are necessary, it is very time consuming and boring." (2011)

Engineering Manager: "I like the variety of not knowing what is going to be the most urgent thing to come across my desk each day. I also enjoy the opportunity to provide positive feedback when one of my engineers does a great job. Lastly, it is an interesting challenge to decide which engineering solutions do the most good for the Navy without overly expending the budget. The worst parts are when I have to provide constructive criticism to my people when someone doesn't do a good job or makes a technical error, or when such an error results in extra cost or problems for the US servicemen." (2011)

Career Background

Engineering Managers

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Tips

"Knowledge Is Key...
It is better to start at the bottom in this field in order to gain a broader knowledge of telecom networks; this allows far more opportunities throughout the various departments. Always stay on top of technological advancements as the network is constantly being upgraded and changed to better meet customer demand." (Telecommunications Project Manager; 2014)

"An Open Mind And Industry Experience Will Take You Far...
Do your best to avoid getting too specific within your field of study too early. Look for internship and co-op opportunities early and often." (Project Engineer; 2014)

"Don't Forget The Human Touch...
I think in engineering and science related fields, the social aspect of work is often forgotten. You need to get out and talk to people in your company and outside the company in your field in order to advance or even find regular employment." (Systems Engineer; 2013)

"Advice For Engineering Managers...
1. Practice speaking in front of audiences, and get where you can deliver a message quickly, clearly, and succinctly. Communication, whether to your team, your manager, your leadership, or a customer, is key. and its how others grade you. 2. When given the opportunity, lead. there is no substitute for good leadership. Your team will appreciate it, and your management will appreciate it. The only way to develop your leadership skills is to practice it.. .and you do that by taking charge. 3. Be an expert in something. Be the person that people come to for one or two reasons... and be seen as knowledgeable, credible, and sincere." (Manager Engineering; 2011)

"Get Your License...
In the consulting engineering business for the construction industry, it is very important to obtain your Professional Engineering license (PE). When building designs are completed, the drawings must be stamped by a PE when they are submitted to a building department to get a building permit. The licensing involves taking a two part exam. The first part of the exam is based mostly on what you would learn in college, so it is easiest to take the exam immediately upon completing college. The second part of the exam is based on practical experience and can be taken anytime in your career. Also, writing skills are critical. Although you may be pursuing an engineering career based on science, I spend a lot of my time writing letters, e-mails and reports. It is critical in this business to be able to adequately communicate your ideas and thoughts through writing. Be able to draft your own work. The business has changed over the last 10-15 years. Previously, designers designed and then handed their work over to a draftsperson to draw. That is no longer the case. Designers today need to be able to design and draft." (Principal In Charge Of Engineering Consulting Firm; 2011)

"Know How Theory Is Applied To Real Problems...
Be sure that you understand the real world applications of the engineering theory that you learn, so that you can turn that knowledge into useful solutions to problems. Develop a system of organization that works for you so you can manage your time, keep multiple tasks going, and have energy left for your family. You have to be able to absorb information quickly and accurately, so watch a little less TV and read a book instead." (Engineering Manager; 2011)