Architectural and engineering managers plan, coordinate, and direct activities in architectural and engineering companies.

Duties

Architectural and engineering managers typically do the following:

  • Make detailed plans for the development of new products and designs
  • Lead research and development teams that produce new products, processes, or designs
  • Check the technical accuracy of their team’s work
  • Ensure the soundness of methods their staff uses
  • Coordinate work with other teams and managers
  • Propose budgets for projects and programs
  • Determine staff, training, and equipment needs
  • Hire, assign, and supervise staff

Architectural and engineering managers use their knowledge of architecture or engineering to oversee a variety of activities. They may direct and coordinate production, operations, quality assurance, testing, or maintenance at manufacturing sites, industrial plants, engineering services firms, and research-and-development laboratories.

Architectural and engineering managers are responsible for developing the overall concept of a new product or for solving technical problems preventing the completion of a project. To accomplish their aim, they must determine technical goals and produce detailed plans.  

Architectural and engineering managers spend a great deal of time coordinating the activities of their unit with the activities of other units or organizations. They often confer with other managers, including financial, production, and marketing managers, and with contractors and equipment and materials suppliers.

In addition, architectural and engineering managers must know how to prepare budgets and hire and supervise employees. They propose budgets for projects and programs and determine staff, training, and equipment needs. These managers also must hire people and assign them to carry out specific parts of each project. Architectural and engineering managers supervise the work of their employees and set schedules and administrative procedures.

Work Environment

Architectural and engineering managers held about 193,800 jobs in 2012.

Architectural and engineering managers spend most of their time working in offices. Some also may work in laboratories and industrial production plants or at construction sites.

The industries that employed the most architectural and engineering managers in 2012 were as follows: 

Manufacturing 36%
Architectural, engineering, and related services 23
Government 9
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 5
Scientific research and development services 5

Work Schedules

Although most managers work full time, about half worked more than 40 hours a week in 2012. As a result, workers often experience considerable pressure to meet deadlines and budgets.

Education and Training

Architectural and engineering managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree and considerable work experience as an architect or engineer.

Education

The vast majority of architectural and engineering managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in an engineering specialty or a professional degree in architecture.

Many also gain business management skills by completing a master’s degree in engineering management (MEM or MsEM) or technology management (MSTM) or a master’s in business administration (MBA), either before or after advancing to management positions. Employers will sometimes pay for such education. Typically, those who prefer to manage in technical areas pursue an MsEM or MSTM and those interested in more general management skills earn an MBA.

Engineering management programs usually include classes in accounting, engineering economics, financial management, industrial and human resources management, and quality control.

Technology management programs typically provide instruction in production and operations management, project management, computer applications, quality control, safety and health issues, statistics, and general management principles.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Managers advance to their positions after years of employment as an architect or engineer. They usually have experience working on increasingly difficult projects, developing designs, solving problems, and making decisions. Before moving up to a management position, they also typically have experience leading engineering teams.                              

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Architectural and engineering managers must evaluate information carefully and be able to solve complex problems.

Communication skills. Architectural and engineering managers oversee staff and confer with other levels of management. They must communicate orders effectively and be able to lead teams to meet goals. 

Detail oriented. Architectural and engineering managers must pay attention to detail. Their duties require an understanding of complex systems, and a minor error can cause major problems.

Math skills. Architectural and engineering managers use calculus and other advanced mathematics to develop new products and processes.

Organizational skills. Architectural and engineering managers keep track of many workers, schedules, and budgets all at once.

Technical skills. Managers in these fields must thoroughly understand the specific area (architecture or a particular type of engineering) that they are managing.

Pay

The median annual wage for architectural and engineering managers was $124,870 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $80,300, and the top 10 percent earned more than $187,200. 

In May 2012, the median annual wages for architectural and engineering managers in the top five industries in which these managers worked were as follows:

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction $147,250
Scientific research and development services 142,310
Manufacturing 124,000
Architectural, engineering, and related services 123,310
Government 119,240

 

In addition, architectural and engineering managers, especially those at higher levels, often receive more benefits—such as expense accounts and bonuses—than nonmanagers.

Although most managers work full time, about half worked more than 40 hours a week in 2012. As a result, workers often experience considerable pressure to meet deadlines and budgets.

Job Outlook

Employment of architectural and engineering managers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will largely reflect the growth of the industries in which these managers are employed.

For example, the engineering services industry is projected to grow 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, adding the most new architectural and engineering manager jobs. Engineering services is composed of consulting firms that provide services to many different industries. Civil engineering services related to the construction of large buildings, roads, and other infrastructure projects are the most common services provided by this industry. Demand for these services is expected to be high as the nation’s aging infrastructure needs repair and expansion. Mechanical and electrical engineering services are also commonly provided by this industry and will continue to be used on many different projects.

However, employment in manufacturing—the largest industry employing architectural and engineering managers—is projected to decline by 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, impeding overall growth of the occupation. 

Job Prospects

Because these jobs are highly desirable, candidates can expect very strong competition for openings.

Those with technical knowledge, strong communication skills, and years of related work experience will likely be in the best position to become managers.

In addition, because architectural and engineering managers are involved in the financial, production, and marketing activities of their firm, business management skills can be beneficial for those seeking management positions.

For More Information

For information on architecture and engineering management programs, visit

American Institute of Architects

ABET

Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh.

Average Yearly Pay

$119,260

Holland Code

Building
Thinking
Persuading

Job Growth

9%

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