Why the Engineering sector needs more specialist managers

Becoming an Engineering Manager can help to bridge the gap between technical and managerial skills, leading the next generation of engineers. We live in a world where technology is constantly changing how we live and work. This makes the engineering sector paramount to the continuous innovation required globally to predict and react to future change. Keeping up with these technological trends is crucial to success as a leading engineer.

According to the 2019 IET Skills and Demand in Industry report, 53% of employers in the engineering sector are concerned that a shortage of engineers in the UK is a threat to their business. To put that into perspective, out of those 124,000 engineers required, only 78,000 recruitment opportunities are predicted to be available by 2024 (Engineering UK).

With reference to management, roles such as Technical Product Manager, Project Engineer, Robotics Engineer and more senior positions like Managing Director, Production Manager or Manufacturing Engineering Manager are in high demand too. This gives engineers the scope to progress and fill the skills gap to make positive transformations in the sector.

But, in order to initiate change, you need a leader or senior engineer to instill a good understanding of emerging and disruptive technologies and be ready to adopt them when the time is right within their team of engineers. Whether you are a mechanical, civil, electrical, chemical, computer, aerospace, aeronautical or electronic engineer, becoming an Engineering Manager can help to bridge the gap between technical and managerial skills, leading the next generation of engineers.

What is Engineering Management?

With the engineering sector becoming increasingly complex in terms of technology and processes, the demand for engineers who have the people and business management skills to lead teams of specialist technical employees is constantly increasing. Engineering Management simultaneously combines the crucial technical engineering skills required for an engineering career with the management skills required to make a high business impact.

An Engineering Manager’s role involves leading teams of people, managing projects and planning budgets. Whether it is improving engineering supply chains or managing major engineering projects and workflows, Engineering Managers should be well-prepared to blend technological skills with leadership, management, and financial acumen.

Why become an Engineering Manager?

Often, individuals in technical roles do not see themselves as effective managers or inspiring leaders; however, even the most successful leaders started somewhere. So, what are the benefits for engineers looking to take that next step into a managerial position?

1. Career Progression - becoming an Engineering Manager is the next step in any technical engineer’s career. Taking the leap to that next stage and advancing technical skills alongside learning business and management skills is the perfect way to progress an engineering career and gain a competitive advantage in the workplace. 

2. Increase salary expectations - as with most industries, elevating to a managerial position comes with the added advantage of an increased salary. In the UK, you can earn £6,000 (approximately $7,770 USD) more by completing a postgraduate qualification over an undergraduate degree. Specifically, to the engineering sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) engineers have a median annual salary of $91,010 USD; in management however, the top 10% of engineers can earn up to $172,630 USD.

3. Grow as an engineer - becoming an Engineering Manager allows two sets of skills to be developed simultaneously. Not only does this add soft skills, but it makes these professionals well-equipped to resolve complex business issues with the added benefit of having the technical knowledge to drive business decisions. Therefore, mastering two skill sets simultaneously consequently improves personal and professional development.

4. Add organisational value - employers are seeking tech-savvy managers that can accelerate the introduction of new technologies and innovation into their business. They are looking for highly effective leaders that are fully conversant with trends in technology and able to manage the impact of disruptive technologies in business. This puts Engineering Managers in an advantageous position of being able to speak the technical language of engineers on the production floor and the managerial jargon associated with executive level employees. Becoming an Engineering Manager helps to bridge the communication gap between these two integral business functions, to stimulate collaborative, efficient and innovative working environments.

With these many benefits, the logical choice for engineers is to upskill into management.

Some example roles could include:

  • Director of Engineering
  • VP of Engineering
  • Engineering Manager
  • Chief Engineer
  • Production Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Supply Chain Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • Freelance Engineering Consultant
  • Technical Lead

What does it take to be a leader in Engineering?

You might read all about the benefits of engineering management and how it can advance careers, but how do you get there? If you’re an engineer looking to accelerate your career opportunities and move into an enterprise-level leadership role, you should consider an engineering management course. The Engineering Management MSc at the University of Leeds is delivered 100% online, giving you the flexibility to learn whilst working. The course is specifically designed for Engineers and will enable you to apply the advanced management techniques and practical skills that tomorrow’s business leaders will need. It’s ideal if you are:

  • In the early stages of your career and looking to fast-track your progression.
  • An ambitious professional with substantial industry experience.
  • Already working in engineering management or are new to a management role and looking to develop your skills.
  • A busy professional and/or working abroad and unable to study full-time on-campus.

“What is it about our Masters in Engineering Management that sets the course apart from others in the market? I believe it’s the unique combination of traditional engineering management with innovation and creativity and a focus on ethical engineering that can change the world for the better.” - Professor Ian Robertson, Programme Leader

There has never been a more important time for businesses to have technically proficient managers, and our specialised curriculum brings a modern, technology-focused perspective to tried and tested management strategies.

Find out more about how you can become one of tomorrow’s engineering leaders by visiting our website.


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