A guide to the top specializations within engineering management


engineering management

An engineering management degree teaches essential engineering and leadership skills. In learning about this field, one can better prepare for managerial roles in engineering and related sectors, such as architecture and construction.

Too often, students pursuing an advanced degree in engineering management have considerable work experience as engineers. However, some enroll in this program to expand the knowledge they have acquired from their undergraduate degrees. Regardless, it enables them to sharpen their expertise and increase their chances of being hired in the management job market.

Unlike other engineering disciplines, engineering management enables students to develop industrial design competencies and use these abilities in a direction. Therefore, engineering management graduates are creators, leaders, business experts, and strategists within their respective industries.

Now that the scope of engineering management has been established, one might wonder how to get started. There is no getting around the fact that engineering management is a broad discipline.

So, it is not unusual for someone to wonder where they would end up after completing a degree in engineering management. Keep scrolling as this article outlines the top specializations within engineering management and the skills required from each student to ensure success in such a field.

Operations management

Technical expertise, effective leadership, and management abilities are necessary for managing modern engineering teams. So, it is no surprise that operations management is one of the most common specializations within engineering management.

Operations managers will ensure that industrial operations remain efficient by using as few resources as possible while achieving the highest output. They understand how to supervise, develop, modify, and regulate production to turn inputs like workforce, energy, and natural resources into results like goods or services.

This field also covers the variables used, the production systems and how they are set up, quantitative and simulation modeling, and risk and security concerns. One may also study operations research, employing cutting-edge statistical techniques to produce optimum or nearly optimal answers to challenging decision-making issues.

Operations management within engineering management is a multidisciplinary specialization concerned with maximizing yield and revenue while reducing risk, loss, or expense in a real-world context. This means focusing on human-technology interaction and computational and statistical approaches.

One might wonder about the skills required to succeed within this engineering management specialization. Although there are no hard and fast rules to success, some necessary skills include data processing, strategic planning, and budget administration.

Like it or not, those specializing in operations management will most likely define fundamental concepts and acquire knowledge about planning, procurement management, production, and delivery. These skills allow them to understand the theoretical fundamentals on which engineering management is based, learn critical thinking, and identify and solve issues independently.

If that is not good enough, it will also teach them to demonstrate data, issues, ideas, and possible solutions to different audiences. Through this process, one can become a competitive operations manager who contributes to society as a fully developed and self-aware individual who understands legal, social, ethical, and professional standards.

Decision engineering

Decision engineering is another common specialization within engineering management. It uses engineering concepts to make organizational decisions. Those in decision engineering will gain an understanding of the entire systemic decision-making procedure.

This involves setting goals, establishing requirements using complex algorithms to build a modeling approach with vital causation components, and evaluating the quality control and system design decision matrix.

Like other specializations within engineering management, decision engineering has several shared norms and ethics. However, it is unique enough that it warrants particular attention from anyone wanting to be an engineering manager.

As a decision engineer, one must profoundly understand decision theory, applied probability, and systems analysis. In doing so, they can deal with the uncertainty, dynamics, and complexity of designing algorithms, building and understanding models, and presenting results.

Decision engineering is often required for big, high-risk capital spending choices, such as new factories, procedures, commodities, technologies, global coverage, or significant infrastructure alterations. Since decision-making often requires a broad understanding of project management, economics, supply chains, markets, and technology, some of the skills necessary in decision engineering are the following:

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are the bedrock of most disciplines, but decision engineering within the engineering management context emphasizes science and technology. This involves continuously addressing issues and determining the best possible solutions to boost productivity and improve quality of life.

Creativity skills

A decision engineer must often deliver creative solutions to complex problems. Having creative skills empowers them to find innovative ways to approach issues and uncover solutions that would otherwise be unavailable. By taking the Kettering Online Master’s in Engineering Management program, students will enhance their ideas to continue advancing in the constantly changing global environment.

Leadership skills

Leadership is another critical skill required in decision engineering. With leadership skills, one can make well-crafted decisions that drive their organization in the right direction while reducing risks and uncovering opportunities within a particular domain.

Human resource management

Developing and utilizing human resources are essential in maintaining and improving an organization’s ability to achieve set goals and objectives. Those studying human resource management within an engineering management context will learn about hiring, training, growth, performance assessment, benefits and incentives, labor rights, and employment law.

They might also examine knowledge preservation, diversity and inclusion, organizational psychology, and strategic planning. Depending on their chosen academic institution, their coursework could include industrial and organizational psychology, the scientific study of worker conduct, and applying cognitive theories and concepts to businesses to enhance performance outcomes, contentment, safety, security, and well-being.

The following skills are essential in pushing boundaries and solving technical issues that empower various industries to reach unprecedented heights:

Communication skills

Communication is perhaps the most crucial soft skill one must have to succeed in engineering human resource management. Excellent oral and written communication abilities are essential for an engineering manager to manage daily duties and uphold business standards. These soft skills include listening actively, honesty and integrity, and emotional intelligence in delegating tasks and ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Organizational skills

Handling the demands of managing human resources might be difficult for someone who lacks organizational abilities. While engineering managers are not expected to come up with an immediate solution whenever an employee enters their office with a question or concern, they are expected to be knowledgeable enough to know where to look for the needed data. Engineering managers must have organizational skills to find the correct information at the right time and answer questions promptly.


A business benefits from structure, but engineering management also requires much flexibility. Daily job responsibilities change, and unforeseen problems can happen at any time. Like it or not, it is difficult to predict whether or when a benefit provider will suddenly change its policy or when a workplace injury may occur. Flexibility is an essential professional characteristic, mainly because an engineering manager is responsible for supervising the personnel of an entire operation.

Product engineering

Product engineering is another area of engineering management practice. It describes creating an application, assembly, or system to be delivered as a product for sale through an industrial production chain. Product engineering activities commonly involve cost, quality, performance, dependability, serviceability, planned longevity, and application requirements.

Product engineering comprises product development, planning, and the switch to manufacturing. It also includes creating the idea for the product and designing and creating its hardware and software components. These attributes are typically sought to make the final product appealing to the market for which it is intended and a successful contributor to the organization.

After initial design and development, converting a product to volume manufacturing is considered part of product engineering. Now, how does one succeed in product engineering? While rules for success may vary, here are some skills that might be needed to fulfill expected job roles and responsibilities:

Teamwork skills

No matter the industry, the value of teamwork cannot be dismissed. When everyone is on the same page, individuals can operate as a cohesive team to accomplish organizational goals more quickly and effectively. Product engineers must be open to teamwork because they frequently work with other subject matter experts and product creation teams to generate ideas and build and create products. With a team-oriented approach, product engineers can deliver excellent work effectively.

Interpersonal communication skills

Interpersonal communication is modifying one’s communication abilities to work in different interaction scenarios. Product engineers must have extraordinary interpersonal skills because they will communicate with individuals who are not engineering experts. These include organizational leaders, executives, support personnel, and shipment managers.

Creative skills

Product engineers are creative thinkers. They must create several work models and determine solutions for work flaws. When product engineers are innovative, they can develop the product using the best resources while meeting economic practices that are advantageous to an organization.

Engineering design management

Engineering design management is another critical area of engineering management. It reflects integrating and implementing conventional management principles to achieve a successful engineering design practice. Engineering design management, which plans, directs, monitors, and controls design teams’ tasks, outcomes, and influences, is used mainly in the context of engineering design teams.

A technical system description is eventually the result of an engineering design process. Any infrastructure benefiting society may be included in that technical system, whether it be a facility for producing technical objects, a processing factory, or both.

As a result, low-volume infrastructure and high-volume industrial manufacturing fall under the purview of engineering design management. Some of the skills required to become a design engineer are the following:

Analytical skills

Design engineers must employ reasoning and logical abilities when researching, identifying the need for, and developing innovative goods. They must predict how materials will behave under various conditions and how they can build materials to resist these conditions when implementing a design.

Problem-solving skills

Design engineers undertake multiple failure evaluations, uncover complex design patterns, and identify project production issues, challenges, and opportunities. Then, to achieve a deadline, product cost, and dependability objectives, they suggest several creative design solutions, evaluate numerous alternatives, conduct comprehensive tests, and apply those solutions in real-world settings.

Technical skills

Design engineers must have a comprehensive and in-depth technical understanding of products’ operations. They must know calculus principles and other complex mathematical concepts for their research, development, and debugging work.

Systems engineering

Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering management concentrating on dynamic structure creation, integration, and life-cycle administration. It takes advantage of systems thinking principles to organize this amount of knowledge.

Dealing with large or complex projects makes it more challenging to address issues like requirements engineering, serviceability, supply chain, teamwork, assessment and testing, supportability, and many other disciplines required for successful system design, development, implementation, and ultimate decommissioning. Systems engineering deals with work processes, optimization techniques, and risk management tools in these projects.

It differs significantly from a production process in that systems engineering is a discovery process. A manufacturing process is concentrated on routine tasks that produce high-caliber goods while taking the least amount of money and time.

Making the work of a systems engineer worth their while is a higher-than-average compensation. Recent data shows systems engineers in the United States can make an average of $112,000. However, the first step in the systems engineering method is determining the issues that must be addressed and the failures most likely to have the most significant impact in a specific scenario.

Regardless of where one decides to practice, here are the essential skills one must acquire as a systems engineer:

Communication and writing skills

Strong written communication skills, including punctuation and grammar, are necessary for a system engineer. Furthermore, since their work regularly requires them to speak with people at different levels, such as members, managers, or clients, keeping communication and interpersonal skills at a high level is necessary.

Technical skills

Systems engineers collaborate extensively with engineering experts from several fields. Having the technical skills to perform responsibilities, they can help their team members complete daily tasks and exceed organizational goals. Thus, immersing oneself in IT specifics is essential for staying on the same level and successfully incorporating ideas.

Coding and scripting skills

Systems engineers must have a solid understanding of coding skills to create system fixes. They also have to work closely with software developers because part of their job involves developing, upgrading, and maintaining systems. Thus, they must be adept at scripting to fulfill this requirement.

Industrial engineering

Industrial engineering is a branch of engineering management that focuses on creating, enhancing, and implementing integrated systems of people, capital, expertise, information, and technology to optimize complex interactions, structures, or organizations.

Industrial engineers define, forecast, and assess the outcomes of procedures and systems using specific expertise and skills in the mathematical and social sciences, along with engineering research and development principles and practices.

Besides that, industrial engineers also analyze numerous manufacturing process elements, including schedules and flows, and establish management control systems to enhance financial planning efficiency and cost analysis.

Therefore, they must have hard and soft skills to successfully perform their roles and responsibilities. These skills are the following:

Problem-solving skills

Industrial engineers must have a natural ability to solve problems because their primary responsibility is improving the efficiency of systems and processes. Because of this skill, successful industrial engineers can identify various issues, determine their nature and causes, create solutions, and implement those solutions.

Project management and planning skills

Industrial engineers must coordinate people and equipment to finish projects on schedule and to the required standards — hence, they must have strong project management skills. Industrial engineers must select the ideal workforce and technology for each project without using too many or too few of the company’s resources. This entails setting up rigid schedules for the operation of the equipment and assigning employees following their skill level and accessibility.

Start a meaningful career in engineering management today

Engineering management is a diverse field, and knowing where one can apply their skills is essential to success. Those interested in this occupation can find what suits them today by signing up and working towards an engineering management degree.