What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management?
Also known as an “MBA for engineers,” an engineering management master’s degree equips you for leadership roles and high-impact professional challenges.
Joe Privitera hasn’t been in the workforce long enough to reach the management level yet in his engineering career. But he’s already using engineering management skills on a routine basis.
“Engineering management principles come into play every single day,” says Privitera, a structural engineer at AECOM who completed his engineering master’s degree at Merrimack College in 2019. “I’m interacting with clients who aren’t engineers and working with colleagues from different engineering disciplines. Strong teamwork and clear communication with everyone across the board are essential parts of engineering management. That was taught very clearly at Merrimack.”
Engineering management expertise adds value in the job market and on the job, says Privitera. And Merrimack’s specialized Master’s Degree in Engineering Management is designed to meet the heavy industry demand for these skills.
“The engineering management masters degree is the MBA for engineers,” says Merrimack civil engineering professor Sadegh Asgari. An expert and consultant who has worked extensively in private industry, Asgari says engineering managers synthesize technical information with business metrics to achieve optimal project results.
“People in engineering management need to be engineers,” he explains. “They need to understand the specifics of technical processes. But they also need to understand how to use data to make business decisions—how to control costs, optimize materials, reduce waste, and measure performance.”
According to Asgari, employers are turning away from managers who have business degrees, and toward those who hold a master’s in engineering management.
“Companies want management talent to come from within their engineering teams,” he says. “We’re going to see more and more of this because technology is still advancing.”
What Do Engineering Managers Do?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average engineering management salary is about $140,000 a year, well above the average engineering salary across all subspecialties.
“Engineering management is valuable because companies experienced a lot of failures with leaders who only had an MBA,” Asgari says. “The engineering management degree represents the marriage between engineering and business.”
Engineering managers play varying roles, depending on the company and the specific project. While they often participate in technical and design activities, engineering managers are also responsible for analyzing global supply chains, international markets, environmental sustainability, materials and labor costs, ROI, and other aspects of a project.
In addition, engineering managers:
- Excel at communicating in non-technical language
- Get the most out of employees’ talents
- Assemble and lead high-functioning teams
- Deliver projects on time and on budget
- Perform extensive data analysis
- Collaborate with executives and high-level decision-makers
“Engineering management amplifies your impact,” says Anthony DiCarlo, a Merrimack professor who spent more than a decade as an engineering manager at MITRE Corporation. “When you’re managing a team, you affect more than just one component of a job. You affect the whole project, so you can accomplish 1,000 times more than you could accomplish as an individual team member.”
Learn From Experts in Merrimack’s Engineering Management Graduate Program
When Joe Privitera entered the engineering master’s program at Merrimack, he got a piece of advice from a friend: Be sure to take the course in engineering project management from Richard Fox.
“He’s the former CEO of CDM Smith, one of the biggest infrastructure engineering firms in the world,” Privitera says. “It was incredible to get his perspective on how to manage and execute projects. Learning from someone who has that type of management experience is very rare.”
Actually, it’s fairly common for students earning an engineering management master’s degree at Merrimack. In addition to studying with Richard Fox, you can take engineering management courses from seasoned pros who have led major industrial research projects, worked all over the world and served as employees or consultants for global leaders such as MITRE, Raytheon, MKS Instruments, Rockwell, Ford, GE, and Siemens.
“The professors ran their classes in the same way an engineering manager would run a project team,” says Privitera. “They apply the same principles that you use when you enter the workforce. Looking back on it now, it’s something I appreciate even more. I’ve been operating this way for so long, it almost feels like second nature.”
Privitera is continuing to work toward a promotion into an engineering management job. He’s confident he’ll eventually be successful—and he’s grateful for the preparation he acquired from his engineering master’s degree.
“When you’re managing a team, you affect more than just one component of a job. You affect the whole project, so you can accomplish 1,000 times more than you could accomplish as an individual team member.”
— Anthony DiCarlo, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering