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You have proven that you have the skills to be a good engineer, but can you be a good manager too? In engineering, management positions require a blend of the technical skills you already have with soft skills, such as team communication, that you may be lacking. Your undergraduate degree prepared you for the first part of your career, but now it is time to prepare for your next step into a leadership role. Here are five steps to help you go from engineer to manager:

1. Identify the possible next steps for your career

There is usually more than one option available when it comes to advancing your career. This might be a promotion within the company you are already working with, a position with a new company, launching your own company, or a career change. Understanding your options and the pros and cons of each will help you to understand what path to pursue.

Start by looking at the company you are with. Are you happy there? If so, what advancement opportunities are available? Talk to your boss or hiring manager to see if there is an expected career progression they can see you going into. Not only will this help you identify what opportunities are available, it will also let your boss know that you are interested in growing with the company. Even if you are exploring options with your current company, look at positions within other companies in the same field you are in, as well as related fields, because it will help you see all of your options.

2. Determine which path may be the best fit for you

Just because a position is the obvious next step in your natural career path, it is not always the best one for you. Too many times, employees move into an engineering management position only to find that the position is not a fit for their strengths and interests. This leaves them frustrated and in a job where they find it hard to excel and be happy in.

Find people who are already in the positions that you are considering and ask them about their typical day. Read job descriptions and mark the responsibilities that you find interesting and the ones that you know you would hate. While no job will ever be completely without tasks you may not enjoy all of the time, you can still find a balance where you spend the majority of your day doing things you enjoy.

3. Figure out what you need

As you look start to find the positions that seem to be a fit for you, write down what technical and soft skills, education, and experience requirements are needed for the positions. Some positions may require or prefer certain certifications or a graduate degree. Many hiring managers will look for experience with business processes, such as Six Sigma, or demonstrated skills in the area of budgeting or team communication.

Keep in mind that your engineering technical skills will still have value in your next position. Like most things, business really is just a system and as an engineer, you already know how to make systems to work and how to improve them.

4. Create a plan to get you to the next step

Now that you know what career paths you want to pursue and what you are missing to qualify for these position, make a plan on how to get those missing skills, education, or experience requirements. Look at training opportunities, certifications, or a master’s degree to gain the missing skills and education requirements. Actively look for ways to show leadership and management qualities in your current position. Make goals for what you want to accomplish and set a timeline to help you stay motivated.

5. Develop your personal brand and become your best salesperson

As you work towards your goals, remember that you will be ultimately selling yourself to get this new position. Your newly developed skills, experience, and education are important for your degree, but being able to talk confidently about those things is just as important. Take some time to develop a personal brand statement that says who you are and what strengths you can offer to a company and a position. Practice sharing your story, including talking with people you consider mentors and people who can give you an unbiased opinion. As you become more comfortable with talking about your achievements, you will be better prepared to sell yourself in interviews, conversations with your current boss, and in networking situations.

We want to help you go from engineer to manager.

Having been in industry ourselves, we know firsthand what it is like to move from a technical position to a management one. It can be an overwhelming time and knowing where to start can be difficult. Even if you are not sure a master’s degree is the correct path, we would like to talk to you about your career goals and what you may need to accomplish these goals. Use the form on this page to schedule a time to talk or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Let us help you find your path to an engineering management career.

About IEM

The Master of Engineering with a concentration in Information Engineering Management (IEM) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a specialized concentration designed primarily for engineers and people in technical positions. The concentration presents business systems and soft skills in a curriculum that is based on actual engineering industry needs and is offered completely online.