Engineering and Natural Sciences
- Most engineering and natural sciences managers have previous
experience as engineers, scientists, or mathematicians.
- Projected employment growth for engineering and natural
sciences managers should be closely related to growth in
employment of the engineers and scientists they supervise
and of the industries in which they are found.
- Opportunities will be best for workers with strong communication
and business management skills.
Engineering and natural sciences managers plan,
coordinate, and direct research, design, and production activities.
They may supervise engineers, scientists, and technicians, along
with support personnel. These managers use their knowledge of
engineering and natural sciences to oversee a variety of activities.
They determine scientific and technical goals within broad outlines
provided by top executives, who are discussed elsewhere in the
Handbook. These goals may include improving manufacturing
processes, advancing scientific research, or developing new
products. Managers make detailed plans to accomplish these goals.
For example, they may develop the overall concepts of a new
product or identify technical problems preventing the completion
of a project.
To perform effectively, they also must acquire
knowledge of administrative procedures, such as budgeting, hiring,
and supervision. These managers propose budgets for projects
and programs and determine staff, training, and equipment needs.
They hire and assign scientists, engineers, and support personnel
to carry out specific parts of each project. They also supervise
the work of these employees, review their output, and establish
administrative procedures and policies—including environmental
standards, for example.
In addition, these managers use communication
skills extensively. They spend a great deal of time coordinating
the activities of their unit with those of other units or organizations.
They confer with higher levels of management; with financial,
production, marketing, and other managers; and with contractors
and equipment and materials suppliers.
Engineering managers may supervise people who
design and develop machinery, products, systems, and processes,
or they may direct and coordinate production, operations, quality
assurance, testing, or maintenance in industrial plants. Many
are plant engineers, who direct and coordinate the design, installation,
operation, and maintenance of equipment and machinery in industrial
plants. Others manage research and development teams that produce
new products and processes or improve existing ones.
Natural sciences managers oversee the work of
life and physical scientists (including agricultural scientists, chemists, biologists, , medical scientists, and physicists).
These managers direct research and development projects and
coordinate activities such as testing, quality control, and
production. They may work on basic research projects or on commercial
activities. Science managers sometimes conduct their own research
in addition to managing the work of others.
Engineering and natural sciences managers spend
most of their time in an office. Some managers, however, also
may work in laboratories, where they may be exposed to the same
conditions as research scientists, or in industrial plants,
where they may be exposed to the same conditions as production
workers. Most managers work at least 40 hours a week and may
work much longer on occasion to meet project deadlines. Some
may experience considerable pressure to meet technical or scientific
goals on a short deadline or within a tight budget.
|Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Strong technical knowledge is essential for engineering
and natural sciences managers, who must understand and guide
the work of their subordinatescd and explain the work in nontechnical
terms to senior management and potential customers. Therefore,
these management positions usually require work experience and
formal education as an engineer, scientist, or mathematician.
Most engineering managers begin their careers
as engineers, after completing a bachelor’s degree in the field.
To advance to higher level positions, engineers generally must
assume management responsibility. To fill management positions,
employers seek engineers who possess administrative and communication
skills in addition to technical knowledge in their specialty.
Many engineers gain these skills by obtaining a master’s degree
in engineering management or a master’s degree in business administration
(MBA). Employers often pay for such training. In large firms,
some courses required in these degree programs may be offered
onsite. Typically, engineers who prefer to manage in technical
areas pursue a master’s degree in engineering management, while
those interested in nontechnical management earn an MBA.
Many science managers begin their careers as scientists,
such as chemists, biologists, geologists, or mathematicians.
Most scientists or mathematicians engaged in basic research
have a Ph.D.; some in applied research and other activities
may have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Science managers must
be specialists in the work they supervise. In addition, employers
prefer managers with good communication and administrative skills.
Graduate programs allow scientists to augment their undergraduate
training with instruction in other fields, such as management
or computer technology. Given the rapid pace of scientific developments,
science managers must continuously upgrade their knowledge.
Engineering and natural sciences managers may
advance to progressively higher leadership positions within
their discipline. Some may become managers in nontechnical areas
such as marketing, human resources, or sales. In high technology
firms, managers in nontechnical areas often must possess the
same specialized knowledge as do managers in technical areas.
For example, employers in an engineering firm may prefer to
hire experienced engineers as sales workers because the complex
services offered by the firm can be marketed only by someone
with specialized engineering knowledge. Such sales workers could
eventually advance to jobs as sales managers.
Engineering and natural sciences managers held
about 233,000 jobs in 2004. About 27 percent worked in professional,
scientific, and technical services industries, primarily for
firms providing architectural, engineering, and related services;
computer systems design and related services; and scientific
research and development services. Manufacturing industries
employed 37 percent of engineering and natural sciences managers.
Manufacturing industries with the largest employment include
those producing computer and electronic equipment; transportation
equipment, including aerospace products and parts; chemicals,
including pharmaceuticals; and machinery manufacturing. Other
large employers include government agencies and telecommunications
and utilities companies.
Employment of engineering and natural sciences
managers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for
all occupations through the year 2014—in line with projected
employment growth in engineering and most sciences. However,
many additional jobs will result from the need to replace managers
who retire or move into other occupations. Opportunities for
obtaining a management position will be best for workers with
advanced technical knowledge and strong communication skills.
Because engineering and natural sciences managers are involved
in their firms’ financial, production, and marketing activities,
business management skills are also important.
Projected employment growth for engineering and
natural sciences managers should be closely related to the growth
of the occupations they supervise and of the industries in which
they are found. For example, opportunities for managers should
be better in rapidly growing areas of engineering—such as environmental
and biomedical engineering—than in more slowly growing areas,
such as nuclear and aerospace engineering. (See the statements
on engineers and on life and physical scientists
elsewhere in the Handbook.) In addition, many employers
are finding it more efficient to contract engineering and science
management services to outside companies and consultants, creating
good opportunities for managers in management services and management,
scientific, and technical consulting firms.
Earnings for engineering and natural sciences
managers vary by specialty and by level of responsibility. Median
annual earnings of engineering managers were $97,630 in May
2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $78,820 and $121,090.
Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest
numbers of engineering managers in May 2004 are shown below:
|Semiconductor and other electronic component
|Navigational, measuring, electromedical,
and control instruments manufacturing
|Aerospace product and parts manufacturing
|Architectural, engineering, and related
Median annual earnings of natural sciences managers
were $88,660 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between
$64,550 and $118,210. Median annual earnings in the industries
employing the largest numbers of natural sciences managers in
May 2004 are shown below:
|Scientific research and development services
A survey of manufacturing firms, conducted by
Abbot, Langer & Associates, found that engineering department
managers and superintendents earned a median annual income of
$89,232 in 2004, while research and development managers earned
In addition, engineering and natural sciences
managers, especially those at higher levels, often receive more
benefits—such as expense accounts, stock option plans, and bonuses—than
do nonmanagerial workers in their organizations.
The work of engineering and natural sciences managers
is closely related to that of engineers; mathematicians; and
physical and life scientists, including agricultural and food
scientists, atmospheric scientists, biological scientists, conservation
scientists and foresters, chemists and materials scientists,
environmental scientists and hydrologists, geoscientists, medical
scientists, and physicists and astronomers. It also is related
to the work of other managers, especially top executives.
Source: Bureau of Labor
Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook
Handbook, 2006-07 Edition,