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Arkansas State University

What Is an Engineering Project Manager?

The A-State Master of Engineering Management online degree program is designed for engineers on management career paths as well as those managing technology in engineering, manufacturing and high-tech organizations. One of the most widely held positions of graduates from this program and others like it is project manager.

The Responsibilities

A project manager is responsible for the planning, management and completion of a project. They oversee staff, the budget and the schedule. The PM is responsible for process development, which is the planning of the most streamlined and efficient course, and they must be responsive in order to meet the client’s objectives as efficiently as necessary. The work involves risk assessments, problem-solving and contingency plans so that teams can deliver on their objectives, regardless of possible hurdles. It is a pivotal role, without which a project could be halted by any number of problems or rendered inefficient, incomplete or a failure.

Some of the most important tasks within engineering project management are the scheduling of events and key dates, purchasing of materials, and overseeing of construction and testing. Monitoring of progress and performance against plan, approval of plan documentation, and budget are also critical.

An engineering project manager differs from an engineering manager. Whereas the latter manages teams of engineers, project managers manage teams in the process of managing projects. The role of engineering project manager also differs from that of a project engineer, who is a team member assigned to oversee and approve a project’s technical engineering components.

Soft Skills Required

Successful project managers not only possess the requisite academic and professional training to carry projects through to completion, but they also tend to have a common set of soft skills. These skills are transferable across industries, departments and positions, and include:

  • The ability to work with diverse personality styles
  • Diplomacy and conflict resolution
  • Flexibility
  • Time management/schedule maintenance
  • Strong team leadership

Practices, Techniques and Processes

Project management for engineering projects utilizes standard project management techniques, practices and processes, with an exclusive focus on engineering projects. These practices include the following:

  • Agile, in which solutions evolve through cross-functional teams and customers
  • Scrum, which is suited for delivering complex products through collaboration
  • Kanban, which focuses on early releases with self-managing teams
  • Lean, which aims to maximize value for the customer by using fewer resources
  • Waterfall, a methodology that stresses the importance of documentation

Earnings Expectations places the average salary for engineering project managers at $94,598 per year, with top earners making more than $185,000 per year. Factors that affect salary include education, certifications, additional skills and years of experience. The role typically requires three or more years of managerial experience.

If you are an engineering professional with the right combination of soft skills, an investment in an MEM degree could quickly land you a challenging and rewarding position as an engineering project manager.

Learn more about A-State’s online Master of Engineering Management program.


Indeed: Engineering Project Manager Salaries in the United States

Wrike: What Is Engineering Project Management?

ASME: 10 Skills to Transition from Engineering to Project Management

Zenkit: 7 Popular Project Management Methodologies and What They’re Best Suited For

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