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Engineering, science, and data processing managers plan, coordinate, and direct research, development, design, production, and computer related activities. They supervise a staff which may include engineers, scientists, technicians, computer specialists, and data processing workers, along with support personnel.
Engineering, science, and data processing managers determine scientific and technical goals within broad outlines provided by top management. These goals may include the redesign of an industrial machine, improvements in manufacturing processes, the development of a large computer program, or advances in basic scientific research. Managers make detailed plans for the accomplishment of these goals-for example, they may develop the overall concepts of new products or identify problems standing in the way of project completion. They forecast costs and equipment and personnel needs for projects and programs. They hire and assign scientists, engineers, technicians, computer specialists, data processing workers, and support personnel to carry out specific parts of the projects, supervise their work, and review their designs, programs, and reports.
Managers coordinate the activities of their unit with other units or organizations. They confer with higher levels of management; with financial, industrial production, marketing, and other managers; and with contractors and equipment suppliers. They also establish working and administrative procedures and policies.
Engineering managers direct and coordinate production, operations, quality assurance, testing, or maintenance in industrial plants; or plan and coordinate the design and development of machinery, products, systems, and processes. Many are plant engineers, who direct and coordinate the maintenance, operation, design, and installation of equipment and machinery in industrial plants. Others manage research and development activities that produce new products and processes or improve existing ones.
Natural science managers oversee activities in agricultural science, chemistry, biology, geology, meteorology, or physics. They manage research and development projects and direct and coordinate testing, quality control, and production activities in research institutes and industrial plants.
Electronic data processing managers direct, plan, and coordinate data processing activities. Top level managers direct all computer-related activities in an organization. Others manage computer operations, software development, or data bases. They analyze the data processing requirements of their organization and assign, schedule, and review the work of systems analysts, computer programmers, and computer operators. They determine computer hardware requirements, evaluate equipment options, and make purchasing decisions.
Some engineering, science, and data processing managers head a section of perhaps 3 to 10 or more scientists, engineers, or computer professionals. Above them are heads of divisions composed of a number of sections, with as many as 15 to 50 scientists or engineers. A few are directors of large laboratories or directors of research.
Engineering, science, and data processing managers spend most of their time in an office. Some managers, however, may also work in laboratories or industrial plants, where they normally are exposed to the same conditions as research scientists and may occasionally be exposed to the same conditions as production workers. Most work at least 40 hours a week and may work much longer on occasion to meet project deadlines. Some may experience considerable pressure to meet technical or scientific goals within a short time or within a tight budget.
Engineering, science, and data processing managers held about 337,000 jobs in 1994. Although these managers are found in almost all industries, nearly two-fifths are employed in manufacturing, especially in the industrial machinery and equipment, electrical and electronic equipment, instruments, transportation equipment, and chemicals industries. However, the largest single industry employing these managers was engineering and architectural services, where almost 1 in 10 worked in 1994. Others work for management and computer and data processing services companies, government, colleges and universities, and nonprofit research organizations. The majority are most likely engineering managers, often managing industrial research, development, and design projects.
Experience as an engineer, mathematician, natural scientist, or computer professional is the usual requirement for becoming an engineering, science, or data processing manager. Consequently, educational requirements are similar to those for scientists, engineers, and data processing professionals.
Engineering managers start as engineers. A bachelor's degree in engineering from an accredited engineering program is acceptable for beginning engineering jobs, but many engineers increase their chances for promotion to manager by obtaining a master's degree in engineering or business administration. A degree in business administration or engineering management is especially useful for becoming a general manager.
Natural science managers usually start as a chemist, physicist, biologist, or other natural scientist. Most natural scientists engaged in basic research have a Ph.D. degree. Some in applied research and other activities may have lesser degrees. First-level science managers are usually specialists in the work they supervise. For example, the manager of a group of physicists doing optical research is almost always a physicist who is an expert in optics.
Most data processing managers have been systems analysts, although some may have experience as programmers, operators, or in other computer specialties. There is no universally accepted way of preparing for a job as a systems analyst. Many have degrees in computer or information science, computer information systems, or data processing and have experience as computer programmers. A bachelor's degree is usually required and a graduate degree often is preferred. However, many data processing managers have associate degrees. A typical career advancement progression in a large organization would be from programmer to rogrammer/analyst, to systems analyst, and then to project leader or senior analyst. The first real managerial position might be as project manager, programming supervisor, systems supervisor, or software manager.
In addition to educational requirements, scientists, engineers, or computer specialists generally must have demonstrated above-average technical skills to be considered for promotion to manager. Superiors also look for leadership and communication skills, as well as managerial attributes such as the ability to make rational decisions, to manage time well, to organize and coordinate work effectively, to establish good working and personal relationships, and to motivate others. Also, a successful manager must have the desire to manage. Many scientists, engineers, and computer specialists want to be promoted but actually prefer doing technical work.
Some scientists and engineers become managers in marketing, personnel, purchasing, or other areas or become general managers.
Opportunities for those who wish to become engineering, science, and data processing managers should be closely related to the growth of the occupations they supervise and the industries in which they are found. (See the accompanying chart and the statements on natural scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and computer scientists and systems analysts elsewhere in the Handbook.) Because many engineers, natural scientists, and computer specialists are eligible for management and seek promotion, there can be substantial competition for these openings.
Overall employment of engineering and science managers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005. Underlying much of the growth of managers in science and engineering are competitive pressures and advancing technologies which force companies to update and improve products more frequently. Research and investment in plants and equipment to expand output of goods and services and to raise productivity also will add to employment requirements for science and engineering managers involved in research and development, design, and the operation and maintenance of production facilities.
Many of the industries which employ engineers and scientists derive a large portion of their business from defense contracts. Because defense expenditures are being reduced, employment has declined and job outlook for managers is not as favorable in these industries compared with less defense-oriented industries.
Employment of data processing managers will increase rapidly due to the fast paced expansion of the computer and data processing services industry and the increased employment of computer systems analysts. Large computer centers are consolidating or closing as small computers become more powerful, resulting in fewer opportunities for data processing managers at these centers. However, as the economy expands and as advances in technology lead to broader applications for computers, opportunities should increase and employment growth should be brisk.
Earnings for engineering, science, and data processing managers vary by specialty and level of management. Science and engineering managers had average salaries that ranged from $44,000 to well over $100,000 for the most senior managers in large organizations, according to the limited data available. Data processing managers had salaries that ranged from $35,000 to $80,000. Managers often earn about 15 to 25 percent more than those they directly supervise, although there are cases where some employees are paid more than the manager who supervises them, especially in research.
According to a survey of workplaces in 160 metropolitan areas, lower-level engineering managers had median annual earnings of $78,100 in 1993, with the middle half earning between $71,700 and $84,800. The highest-level engineering managers had median annual earnings of $105,700 with the middle half earning between $96,300 and $118,200. Beginning systems analysts managers had median annual earnings of $52,300, with the middle half earning between $51,400 and $61,800. The most senior systems analysts managers had median annual earnings of $96,500, with the middle half earning between $88,300 and $105,300.
In addition, engineering, science, and data processing managers, especially those at higher levels, often are provided more benefits (e.g., expense accounts, stock option plans, and bonuses) than non-managerial workers in their organizations.
The work of engineering, science, and data processing managers is closely related to that of engineers, natural scientists, computer personnel, and mathematicians. It is also related to the work of other managers, especially general managers and top executives.
For information about a career as an engineering, science, or data processing manager, contact the sources of additional information on engineers, natural scientists, and systems analysts that are listed in statements on these occupations elsewhere in the Handbook.
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