Engineering managers use creative problem-solving, analysis and technical skills, and good business practices to help companies improve. They also provide quality assurance and customer service to deliver projects on time and under budget. You can earn an affordable engineering management degree online to accelerate your career in project management, operations management, or other engineering services fields.
More and more industries across the country rely on this skill set to organize and enhance manufacturing, operations, human resources, and facilities maintenance programs. Below, read more about the skills and coursework that prepare you to enter this dynamic field, as well as possible career paths, salary information, and resources to help you accomplish your professional goals.
Overview of Engineering Management Degrees
Engineering management prepares graduates for exciting careers in project, facilities, and operations management. As more industries recognize the value that engineering management brings to their overall operation, jobs opportunities continue to grow. The field draws upon the creativity of engineering students as well as the systematic application of engineering processes to improve efficiency, sustainability, quality, service, and profitability.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6% job growth between 2016 and 2026 for architectural and engineering managers, although the engineering services field is projected to grow by 13% over this period. Coursework offers a practical and theoretical understanding of managing resources, from raw materials and supplies to human resources and team leadership.
The classes taken by students pursuing an engineering management degree online provide a general overview of engineering processes and principles, as well as how to apply these skills in management roles. While individual school requirements may vary, many students can complete their program entirely online through asynchronous courses. Interactive technology and project management software allow for collaboration with fellow students. Many schools also help arrange internships or practica close to a distance learner's home, allowing them to apply skills in practical settings.
A college application process includes many steps, with varying deadlines, requirements, and costs for each school. Many schools accept the Common Application, which can simplify this process and help you track your progress. More than 750 colleges and universities accept the Common Application, allowing you to apply to multiple places by filling out just one form. However, be aware that each school charges its own application fee, which typically ranges from $35-$100. These fees can add up, so narrow your selections as best you can.
You must also request high school transcripts for your college applications. If you have taken college-level courses, be sure to request those transcripts, as well. Some schools provide transcripts at no cost, but you should check with your registrar about any possible fees. Also make sure to request delivery of standardized test scores, such as the ACT or SAT. Some schools may also ask for a writing sample and recommendation letters from teachers, supervisors, mentors, and/or colleagues.
If you have been out of school for a few years, consider preparing a resume that covers your professional experience. Higher education institutions evaluate all of this information to determine your placement in college-level classes, any remedial courses you may need to take, and your overall chances of succeeding in college.
What Will I Learn?
Students can earn an online engineering management degree in as little as four years. Most bachelor's programs require about 120 credits. Many online schools offer accelerated formats that allow students to complete one or two classes per term, where terms last between four and eight weeks. This format may benefit working students by reducing the number of classes they take at a time while still providing steady progress toward graduation.
Degree plans include both general education classes and engineering management courses. Requirements vary by school, but most students need around 40 general education credits in areas such as English, history, and the humanities. Engineering management courses develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills by combining technical education with business principles of leadership, communication, and fiscal responsibility. Many programs feature 40-60 engineering credits. Students choose electives to fulfil their remaining credit requirements, which provides the opportunity to explore other subjects that may complement their major. Read on for a list of common courses in this field.
Students in this class learn the functions of engineering management -- including team leadership and motivation -- along with principles of risk, cost, resource control, and scheduling. Coursework also introduces students to many of the tools used in project management and how to generate reports to analyze relevant information. Expect assignments to include projects that require applying these principles to solve practical problems.
Businesses must understand risks and rewards for each project to make sound business decisions. In this class, students learn to evaluate and mitigate financial and enterprise risks. Coursework may discuss case studies, financial portfolio management, and development policies and procedures.
This course explores how to define a project's purpose and scope, estimate the time and cost needed to complete the project, and schedule work with milestones to ensure steady progress. Students also learn how to manage resources, work with teams, control expenses, ensure quality, and respond to problems or unforeseen challenges.
Lean Management Systems
Degree seekers explore how to make manufacturing and other business functions more efficient while maintaining quality and eliminating wasted materials, resources, and time. While this course includes assigned reading and discussion topics, it also utilizes projects to demonstrate an understanding of lean principles.
This branch of logistics focuses on managing supply chains to ensure companies have materials and resources available when needed without keeping too much inventory on hand. This course also covers principles of procurement and purchasing, quality assurance, warehouse management, and inventory management. Coursework may include case studies and class discussions, as well as individual and team projects.
Facility management includes ensuring an organization's physical space supports overall company objectives. Students learn to plan for the best use of space, manage preventative maintenance plans, and understand regulatory requirements for safety and waste management. Coursework also covers sustainable management practices related to leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) certification, green roofs, and renewable energy technology.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Management?
Earning an online engineering management bachelor's degree prepares graduates to tackle technical problems with a business-minded approach. Job opportunities in engineering services abound in almost every industry, including manufacturing, research and development, and construction. While pay varies according to a worker's title, experience, location, and industry, the median salary for engineering managers tops $137,000. Read on to learn more about the skills you need to develop to succeed in your chosen career path.
Engineers bring a systematic approach to problem-solving. They use their creativity to design and build complex machinery or equipment while also using technical skills in math and computing to ensure their ideas work as intended. Engineers need strong analytical thinking, attention to detail, and technical skills to progress through multiple design solutions, adjusting their design and processes until they find an appropriate solution. Many employers may require engineers to gain licensure by passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exams; the ongoing professional development requirements of these licenses help engineers remain up to date on technical advances in the field.
The field of engineering management takes the aforementioned skills to the next level, applying technical and systemic approaches to a myriad of business problems. These problems may relate to mechanical equipment or issues in human resources. While creative problem-solving and a systemic approach to challenges remain important, engineering managers also need well-developed skills in communication, listening, and teamwork. Interpersonal skills and leadership ability prove crucial in this role.
Engineering managers also adopt a continual review process to ensure all company systems work together efficiently and effectively. Additionally, many of these roles require an understanding of basic business practices, cost forecasting, and quality assurance. Engineering management also requires knowledge of regulations regarding employment, worker safety, and hazardous materials.
Potential Careers & Salaries
An online engineering management bachelor's degree prepares graduates for jobs in a variety of industries and fields, including manufacturing, business management, transportation, and construction. Engineering managers often divide big projects into small action steps, allowing workers to move forward in a timely and cost-effective manner. The analytical and problem-solving skills developed through coursework and practical experience allow engineers to adjust as project needs and conditions change. Companies may employ engineering managers in project management, research and development, human resources, supply chain logistics, and long-range planning roles.
The architectural, engineering, and related services industry enlists the most engineering managers, employing more than 43,000 workers in May 2017. Additionally, the oil and gas extraction industry provides the highest annual mean wage: $197,440. Salaries and job opportunities vary widely by location. For example, California employs the greatest number of architectural and engineering managers, while Colorado workers in this field take home the highest wages.
Annual Median Salary: $67,169
Project engineers manage timelines, budgets, and specifications. They often serve as the technical point of contact for customers, oversee technical staff, and communicate with other departments. They regularly visit job sites to verify progress and identify potential problems.
Annual Median Salary: $71,581
These professionals work with sales staff to understand the technical requirements needed to meet a customer's needs. They draw upon their expertise in engineering, computing, and/or science to help sell their company's services. Sales engineers often oversee the installation of equipment, modifying configurations and troubleshooting as necessary.
Annual Median Salary: $67,141
Manufacturing engineers may work in research and development departments designing new products. They may also operate machinery within the company, developing procedures and training employees to maximize efficiency and production. Job opportunities exist in almost every field of production.
Supplier Quality Engineer
Annual Median Salary: $72,225
SQEs source quality supplies for their company, ensuring materials meet quality and performance standards. They develop testing procedures and protocols to increase quality reliability and maintain records of their work for company and regulatory use. SQEs may also travel to supplier locations to evaluate the manufacturing processes.
Annual Median Salary: $65,311
Industrial engineers work with mechanical and human resources to improve manufacturing processes for their company to increase efficiency and production. They may develop procedure manuals, training programs, and asset allocation plans. Industrial engineers also prepare cost analyses for new or repurposed equipment, as well as staffing and training expenses.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Engineering Management?
Earning an engineering management bachelor's degree online prepares you to take on most entry-level career opportunities in the field. Many manufacturing businesses hire employees who hold an undergraduate degree to work as shift supervisors or operational supervisors.
The decision to pursue a graduate degree depends on your ultimate career goals. If your undergraduate education focused on a particular engineering discipline rather than management of engineering processes, a graduate degree in engineering management can provide these highly sought after skills and prepare you for management and executive positions.
However, practical experience in the field can also prepare you for promotions and leadership roles within your organization. Continuing education, professional certifications, and taking on special projects all demonstrate your abilities and can help you climb the corporate ladder. If you do not wish to continue your education by earning a graduate degree, talk with your work supervisor about possible career training programs within the company or individual classes that may help you build additional skills.
Accreditation for Engineering Management Bachelor's Programs
Accreditation serves as quality assurance for students that their school and program meet specific requirements and academic standards. Accreditation status can impact student aid eligibility and whether or not other schools will accept transfer credits. Potential employers or graduate schools also look to see that prospective students' online engineering management degrees were earned at an accredited institution.
Students should check that their schools hold institutional accreditation, which comes in two forms: regional and national. Regional accreditation is more prestigious and is awarded by one of seven accrediting agencies, including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Learners can verify a school's accreditation status by visiting the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs or the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Some schools also hold specialized accreditation for their engineering, technology, computer, and natural science programs from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Many professional licenses and certifications require candidates to hold a degree from an ABET-accredited program. This recognition may also offer a competitive edge when applying for jobs. More than 4,000 programs hold ABET accreditation, including those that award associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees.
Engineering Management Professional Organizations
Engineering management continues to evolve. Breakthroughs in technology and innovative research can change long-held best practices. Membership in a professional organization dedicated to engineering management helps individuals stay informed about changes in the field by providing access to research journals, collaborative message boards, and conferences. These associations also help students, recent graduates, and experienced professionals connect with others in the field who can serve as colleagues or mentors.
American Society for Engineering Management
ASEM welcomes individuals in engineering management, as well as related management professionals working in science and technology. It also offers professional certification and training courses. Members can utilize the organization's library of principles, best practices, and procedures, and its journals and other publications help engineering management professionals stay up to date on industry trends, emerging research, and networking events and conferences.
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - Technology and Engineering Management Society
One of the 39 technical societies of IEEE, this organization promotes technology policy research and development, manufacturing operations, innovation and entrepreneurship, project management, and product design and development. Members may attend a variety of networking events, conferences, and meetings. They also receive society journals and newsletters, access to a resource center, and the opportunity to create a professional profile highlighting accomplishments and projects.
Society for Engineering and Management Systems
SEMS promotes discussion of engineering and management systems that can improve sustainability, enhance social responsibility, increase competitiveness, and support organizational change. Members receive a bi-monthly association newsletter and journal, as well as access to an interactive blog that features leaders in engineering management. The organization provides tutorials and case studies in addition to a library of papers, presentations, and references from conferences. SEMS also oversees award and recognition programs and offers professional development opportunities.