Blog » Got Your Eye on a Career as a Senior Engineering Manager – How to Make Your Goal a Reality

Got Your Eye on a Career as a Senior Engineering Manager – How to Make Your Goal a Reality

There are all kinds of goals you can set for yourself in life, ranging from personal health goals, to goals you set with your significant other, parenting goals, and of course career goals. The idea behind setting goals is to give yourself something to work towards. It motivates people to create a plan complete with realistic steps and milestones they need to achieve. Of course, in order for that plan to be successful, it’s important to really think through the goal, do your research, and put time and effort into the process.

If it’s a career goal that you are focusing on right now, more specifically the goal of becoming a senior engineering manager, proper planning is most definitely in order. Just like with many other professions, this is a job that is highly competitive and can offer you that challenge and reward you’re after. But how do you make the goal a reality? Let’s break it down into the basic steps you’ll want to follow.

What Educational Requirements Are Necessary?

A great place to start is by investigating what educational requirements are necessary to become a senior level engineering manager. At the very least, employers will want to see that you have a Bachelor’s degree, but many will prefer more – a graduate degree. That extra level of education helps to prepare you that much more, show how serious you are about the career, and ensure you have the full skill-set needed to succeed.

Take for example the Master of Science Engineering Management, available through Kettering University Online, and found at: This program focuses on:

  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • High-technology skills
  • Applying skills in a project management context

This is the kind of edge that you can give your resume that will set you apart from other potential candidates vying for those same positions.

Hands-On Experience in the Field

Because you are eyeing a senior level position, it’s also important to be realistic and understand you will need hands-on experience. What this means is that landing that senior level job right out of school isn’t very realistic. Instead, expect to start in a mid-level job, or even entry-level job and then work your way up the ranks.

Rather than feeling upset that you aren’t starting at the top, this is an opportunity for you to really learn more skills that can be added to your resume. Hands-on experience and knowledge are things that gets a lot of credit in the eyes of a potential employer.

Speak to Your Boss About Your Career Goals

Making sure you get your masters and take that entry or mid-level job in order to gain the experience is great, but you can’t expect for your boss to read your mind and know what your goals are. It’s a good idea to speak to your boss fairly early on and make it clear what your goals are, not just with your job, but in the company.

In your meeting with your boss, be sure to ask such questions as:

  1. Do you promote from within?
  2. What skills are required to work in a senior management position?
  3. How many years of experience are required?
  4. Is there any area that I should focus on?
  5. What do you see as my strengths and weaknesses?
  6. How can I start to take on more responsibility and be more challenged?

Your boss may be pleased to hear you are so dedicated, or then again you may discover that there really aren’t many opportunities that exist in terms of advancement, in which case it may be better for you to start looking elsewhere.

Don’t Shy Away from Challenges

In order to gain on-the-job experience that will help you to advance in your career, it’s also important you don’t shy away from challenges. There will always be those tasks and jobs at the office that seem difficult, drawn out, and even a bit intimidating. While your first response may be to turn it down, in reality these experiences can be some of the best learning opportunities out there.

At the same time, this helps to build a positive reputation for yourself within the company. Instead of being the person who says no to everything and isn’t willing to go the extra mile, you become the team player who people can count on.

Find a Mentor

It can also be quite helpful to find a mentor early on in your career. A good mentor is one that you can rely on throughout your years, as you advance through various positions.

When looking for a mentor, some of the things you’ll want to consider are:

  • What industry does your mentor work in?
  • What skills/experience do they have that you can learn about?
  • How easy is it for you to contact them, speak with them?
  • Are they a good listener?
  • Can they help to guide you and offer advice?

It may take a bit of work to find that perfect mentor, but stick with it and be specific in what you’re looking for.

Get Out There and Network

The final tip is to get out there, make a name for yourself, and start networking. Sure, it’s great to make an impact in your company, but keep in mind that the field is vast. Your company isn’t the be all and end all. In fact, you may have your eyes set on an entirely different company in terms of a senior management position.

Some of the best ways to network include:

  • Attending trade shows
  • Attending industry conferences, seminars, and events
  • Joining local business and trade groups
  • Being active on LinkedIn

Networking should be something you do on a regular basis, rather than a one-time thing.

Keep Your Eye on the Goal

At the end of the day, landing that job as a senior engineering manager isn’t usually by chance; it is due to a lot of hard work, planning, and dedication on your part. So, keep your eye on the goal and make it happen.

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