In today’s job market, skilled technical roles in engineering fields — such as software, electrical, industrial and mechanical — are some of the highest paying. And if you’re looking to advance your career in any of these sectors, you may be up against some stiff competition. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that higher-level managerial positions will experience 2% growth by 2031 — a rate that’s slower than the national average. What that means is greater competition to fill fewer roles as older engineers transfer to new positions or retire.
So how can you increase your value as a candidate and stand out from the crowd? One of the most effective ways is through continuing education. Earning an engineering management certification not only expands your knowledge, but also shows potential employers that you’re committed to career development. But with so many to choose from, how do you know which programs are worthwhile or which one is right for you? Keep reading to find out.
What Are Engineering Management Certifications?
These programs are designed to provide engineers and other technical professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage and lead engineering teams.
Most reputable certificate courses are issued by recognized licensing organizations, such as the American Society of Engineering Management (ASEM). This ensures that programs are based on industry best practices and focus on the most relevant aspects of tech leadership. It also offers proof that the holder has the necessary skills for managing complex engineering projects.
Reasons to Take Engineering Management Certifications
Engineering management certification programs are ideal for people who want to take the next step professionally but have little or no previous management or leadership experience.
Some of the ways certification can help you progress include:
- By building and strengthening leadership skills such as developing goals, leading projects, delegating tasks, motivating and inspiring teams, and so on
- By providing the specialized know-how needed to achieve your career and professional development goals
- By demonstrating your commitment to taking on leadership roles, which is a huge plus for potential employers
- By keeping you up to date on current trends in the engineering industry — a must for managerial roles
Additionally, if you’re planning to apply for senior engineering manager or director-level positions, some prospective employers may require you to hold certain certifications (or commit to earning them as a condition of employment).
Certificate courses can also be a good source of supplementary knowledge for those who are more established in their careers but looking to refresh their skills.
Careers That Benefit From an Engineering Management Certification
The question remains: Is earning a certificate worthwhile for you and your circumstances? In addition to keeping your career objectives in mind and weighing the benefits and costs, one way to help determine whether or not certification makes sense is by asking yourself what job you want.
The return on investment (ROI) that comes with certification is greater for some roles than it is for others. Positions that benefit from engineering management certificates include:
- Senior Project Analyst
- Cost Systems Analyst
- Senior Management
- Production Engineer
- Engineering Project Manager
- Process Engineer
How to Get an Engineering Management Certification
Typically, certificate programs require a combination of degrees and professional experience in order to apply or enroll. However, exact requirements will vary based on the course, with some asking for additional prerequisites and others fewer.
Steps that you’ll need to take on your path to certification could include:
- Completing a four-year degree program
- Getting professional experience
- Earning licensure, if needed
- Paying a fee and passing an exam
Though not always a requirement for certification, earning an advanced degree, such as the University of San Diego’s Master of Science in Engineering Management and Leadership, comes with its own benefits.
10 Top Engineering Management Certifications
Not sure where to start when it comes to researching potential programs? These 10 programs offer benefits for anyone considering a career in engineering, management or a combination of the two:
- Engineer In Training Certification (EIT) This certification is designated by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). It’s issued by individual states’ engineering boards and granted to individuals who have completed a minimum of three years of post-secondary school in an approved engineering program and have passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE).
- Project Management Professional (PMP) Offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), this program is one of the most highly esteemed project management certifications on the market. To qualify for enrollment, applicants must have either of the following:
- A four-year degree, 36 months of experience leading projects within the past eight years, and 35 hours of project management education or training
- A high school diploma or associates degree, 60 months of experience leading projects within the past eight years, and 35 hours of project management education or training
- Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) A ScrumMaster’s duties include creating an efficient and productive work environment and helping team members incorporate agile practices in their day-to-day. This program provides training on the Scrum and agile frameworks and is ideal for those whose work includes solving complex problems. There are no prerequisites for this course, and professionals from all industries are welcome to enroll.
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Also offered by the PMI, this credential is intended for those who want to build on their existing project management skills or who are just starting out in the field. To qualify, you must hold a secondary degree (e.g. a high school diploma or GED) and have at least 23 contact hours of project management education. To earn this certification, program participants must pass a 150-question exam.
- Certified Planning Engineer (CPE) If you have a degree, at least six years of professional experience, and have handled at least two projects in a related field, the CPE could be the certification for you. Offered by the American Academy of Project Management (AAPM), CPE provides a training environment for professionals with a technical background by correlating the principles of engineering along with management.
- Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (LSSBB) Six Sigma uses a specific set of tools and concepts to help improve processes in a professional setting. LSSBB training and certification is a fully accredited program that is intended for those who want to become proficient in this methodology. Anyone can enroll, and to earn certification, participants must pass a series of exams with minimum scores of 70%.
- ITIL Foundation Certification This widely recognized certification course provides enrollees with the know-how and unique skill set needed to oversee IT services. Course content draws from the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), an established set of IT service management best practices.
- Certified Agile Leadership (CAL)With this program, participants gain the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage agile teams. Like the CSM, it’s offered by the Scrum Alliance and there is no prerequisite to enroll.
- The Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD) Formerly known as the Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPLP), this distinction is backed by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and recognizes professionals who demonstrate the abilities necessary to design, develop, manage, and measure learning and performance initiatives. To be eligible, candidates must possess at least five years of experience in talent development or a related field and have at least 60 completed hours of professional development within the last five years.
- Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) Offered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), this accredited certification is for professionals who want to “understand the principles of product and service quality evaluation and control.” To qualify, applicants must have eight years of relevant experience and have spent three years in a decision-making role.
How to Choose the Right Certification
Once you’ve determined that certification is the right path for you, the next step is figuring out which program is the best fit. With so many options to choose from, finding the right one can seem like an overwhelming task — but it doesn’t have to be. Try using the following techniques to help narrow the field.
Do Your Research
If you’re targeting a specific job, find out which certifications are applicable to the position you hope to pursue. Check out job listings for roles that interest you — any required certifications should be included in the write up.
Each program is different, so it’s important to get answers to the questions that will help you rule out courses that aren’t the best fit and identify the ones that are. Some questions to ask include:
- Does the course align with your career goals?
- How much does the program cost?
- How much time will it take to complete?
- How flexible is the program schedule? (i.e. is it self-paced? Are there set class or exam times?)
- Is the course online or in person?
If you can’t find this information or have questions that the FAQs don’t cover, try getting in touch with the certification program directly, chances are they’ll be happy to help.
Get First-hand Recommendations
Nothing beats getting feedback about potential certificate programs directly from someone you know and trust. Chat with colleagues and ask about their experiences with earning certifications or their thoughts about the different programs you’re considering. If they don’t have direct experience with a particular course, it’s possible that they might know someone who does.
Engineering Management Certificate FAQs
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