Master’s degrees in engineering management, which have a reputation for being one of the highest-paying master’s degrees, are management-focused graduate degree programs for engineers. There are a few different master’s degree programs engineers who are planning a move to management might consider. Besides the master’s in engineering management degree, a master’s in technology management or Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can help you reach your goals, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Master’s in Engineering Management Programs
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With more of an engineering focus than a business degree and more of a business focus than a master’s in engineering degree, the master’s in engineering management program is an excellent choice for engineers who need to gain some business skills to move into managerial positions. Applicants are generally expected to have an undergraduate education in engineering, although a bachelor’s degree in the sciences or a related subject may suffice.
The core coursework of a master’s in engineering management program may include engineering management practice, management of people and organizations, financial management, marketing management, international business and management strategy. Classes that touch upon quality control, engineering economics and human resources management are also common, according to the BLS.
Some master’s in engineering management curricula offer students the opportunity to take a cluster of related courses in an area of specialization. This academic concentration may even lead to a formal certificate in a subject area. Some potential areas of focus in engineering management programs include healthcare management, operations management and supply chain management.
Notably, engineering management programs generally don’t focus on the development of advanced technical engineering skills, as a master’s degree in a specific discipline of engineering, such as chemical or civil engineering, would.
Master’s in Technology Management Programs
Another degree option for aspiring engineering managers, according to the BLS, is a master’s in technology management. On the tech side, technology management programs have a broader focus beyond engineering. Studies in computer applications and statistics are common parts of the curriculum, according to the BLS. Don’t be surprised if your course offerings include information security, cybersecurity, digital strategies and systems used to manage business information, human resources and other aspects of operations.
The other classes you encounter in a program like this are likely to align more closely with the core business coursework of an engineering management program. Classes in organizational behavior, business, strategy, financial analysis and operations management might be part of your program.
A master’s in technology management degree might be a better choice if your background is outside of engineering – for example, in another tech field – or if you want to expand your expertise to technology areas outside of engineering.
Master of Business Administration Programs
If you already have an engineering background through your undergraduate studies, your work experience or both, you might opt to explore a more strongly business-focused graduate option, like an MBA. Master of Business Administration degrees are known for their broad curricula that cover different aspects of business, including finance, accounting, marketing, management and human resources.
Compared to a master’s in engineering management degree, an MBA is a more versatile option that will allow you to work in management roles across industries. The curriculum of an MBA won’t give you as much insight into the challenges and practices of management within the engineering industry specifically, but your existing engineering experience can also help you have that understanding.
MBA programs often give students a chance to pursue a concentration area. While many MBA concentrations are within the field of business, some programs offer MBA concentrations in engineering management. If you’re torn between an MBA program and an engineering management program, this graduate option can give you the best of both worlds. You still get the breadth of an MBA program’s core curriculum. However, choosing this concentration allows you to take classes that focus on the unique issues that apply to management of the engineering industry, such as project management, quality management and management of the supply chain required for engineering work.
If you have a background in engineering or technology and an interest in management, any of these graduate programs can prepare you for a leadership role. Choosing between them is a matter of what you want to prioritize and how you want to use your degree.