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Engineering and Natural Sciences Managers - What They Do

How to Advance (Advancement)
Engineering and natural sciences managers may advance to progressively higher leadership positions within their disciplines. 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 can eventually advance to jobs as sales managers.

Engineering and natural sciences managers held about 228,700 jobs in 2008. Manufacturing industries employed 36 percent of engineering and natural sciences managers. Another 33 percent worked in professional, scientific, and technical services industries, primarily for firms providing architectural, engineering, and related services, and scientific research and development services. Other large employers include Federal, State, and local government agencies.

Job Outlook
Employment of engineering and natural sciences managers is projected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations. Opportunities will be best for engineers and scientists with strong communication and business management skills.

Job Growth
Employment of engineering and natural sciences managers is expected to grow 8 percent over the 2008–18 decade, as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth should be affected by many of the same factors that affect the growth of the engineers and scientists that these managers supervise. However, job growth for managers will be somewhat slower than for engineers and scientists because the increasing tendency to outsource research and development in specialized engineering and scientific research services firms will lead to some consolidation of management.

Opportunities for engineering managers should be better in rapidly growing areas of engineering, such as environmental and biomedical engineering, than in more slowly growing areas, such as electrical and mechanical engineering. Opportunities for natural sciences managers should be best in the rapidly growing medical and environmental sciences. Engineers and scientists with advanced technical knowledge and strong communication skills will be in the best position to become managers. Because engineering and natural sciences managers are involved in the financial, production, and marketing activities of their firm, business management skills are also advantageous for those seeking management positions. In addition to those openings resulting from employment growth, job openings will result from the need to replace managers who retire or move into other occupations.

Earnings for engineering and natural sciences managers vary by specialty and by level of responsibility. Median annual wages of engineering managers were $115,270 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $91,870 and $141,730.

Median annual wages of natural sciences managers were $112,800 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $85,910 and $151,400.

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.

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