The product engineering manager establishes processes which ensure quality, safety, and reliability in the design of products that a company makes and sells to consumers. This job involves reviewing engineering blueprints, creating the initial prototypes of products, cost analysis, initiating the production of products, training engineers, and working with consumers to make sure products are performing up to consumer's expectations. If you aspire to become a product engineering manager, you will generally need a college degree and a postgraduate degree.
Product engineering managers typically earn a bachelor's degree in engineering; however, the degree usually includes elective coursework taken in business management. People who are product engineering managers are both engineers and managers, hence the need for a college education that includes both engineering and management. In addition, doing a college internship in product engineering can be helpful; the internship can supplement your academic coursework but also enable you to gain a sense of the daily problem-solving and technical troubleshooting that goes on within a product engineering context.
You will typically apply for a job in product engineering during the final semester of your college degree. The career services office at your school can usually help you find a job. Also, your internship supervisor might be able to help you find a job at the same company where you did your internship.
Your first years of work experience will likely involve getting hands-on experience in product engineering, which includes management of technical personnel. You will be immersed in engineering as it pertains to whatever product your company produces. Also, you will learn about technical operations at your company.
After two years of work experience, you could apply for graduate school. For example, the Master of Science (MS) degree in engineering product development is typically recommended for anyone who hopes to become a product engineering manager. The MBA for a product engineering manager will include coursework that represents a mix of engineering and business courses. For example, there will likely be courses such as industrial design techniques, new product managing, manufacturing design, teamwork within organizations, and negotiation.
Aspiring to become a product engineering manager is the right goal if you have an interest in the technical and the managerial. Granted, it can be helpful to have good communications skills because there will be significant amounts of collaboration in the process of product design and product building. To become a product engineering manager requires that you must develop the skills necessary to align workers, skills, or processes of designing products. Also, it can be useful if you are the type of person who learns quickly and functions well under stress because quite often companies will want to go from product creation to product launch within a relatively short period of time.
If you become a product engineering manager, you can work in any type of company that makes products for mass consumption. Computer software companies, automobile companies, or companies specializing in aerospace engineering are just a few examples of the types of work settings which could employ a product engineering manager. Long-term career options are varied. As a product engineering manager, you could be promoted into an executive position. You could also go back to graduate school to pursue the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in engineering, which would enable you to either start your own engineering consulting business or work as a professor teaching engineering courses in a college setting.