Are you a senior engineer considering becoming an engineering manager as your next career move? It only makes sense as managing positions are higher paid, require more experience, and are considered the next step in the career ladder.
Many senior engineers may be considering taking that step forward; others may feel as if they are better suited where they currently are. Either way, making the decision requires self-evaluation of your skills, personality, potential growth, and career aspirations.
Consider Both Sides
There are some considerations you should take as you embark on your journey. No choice can be made without looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly on both sides of the coin.
If you have never been in management, it may be a challenging assessment, while management was always the goal for other senior engineers.
It's essential to take the time you need to get a better view and understanding of what you want. However, there is no need to rush; after all, management carries a weight of responsibility, and it's best to thoroughly consider all aspects that are important to you. Here are a few points to review:
- Engineering Manager: More responsibilities, higher pay, team leader, manager of people, longer hours, mentorship and decision-making.
- Senior Engineer: Great salary, higher market demand, lots of computer work, more flexibility with time and solely responsible for your part.
What do you hope to achieve in your position? What type of work is fulfilling for you? Are you looking for more growth, and in which aspects? Questions like these give you better direction on why you want to make the change, to begin with.
Up for the Challenge?
Management is not an easy feat; just ask! But what's important is understanding if you are ready to take on such a role. While managing has many benefits and most everyone in the workforce has considered this career path, that doesn't mean that it's necessarily the right one for you.
To get a better view of this role, do a bit of research, ask different engineering managers questions, even see if you can shadow a couple of times a week. Being a part of the action is one of the best ways to get a feel for your daily life as a manager.
These are some practical actions you can take to aid you in making the best choice for you. If you're looking to make the role transition from senior engineer to manager, you want to approach it as if you were studying for exams, especially if you're going to be a first-time manager.
Do You Have The Skills?
If you are potentially a first-time manager, there's a bit more to consider as you have yet to gain managerial experience. You'll have to consider what hard and soft management skills you bring to the table. You may need to take extra time for continuing your education or earn a certification. Remember that you need both these skills and technical ones as well.
- Soft Skills: Strategic thinking and planning, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, communication abilities, time management, active listening and leadership.
- Hard Skills: Certifications, A-degrees, coding, technical knowledge, project management, machine learning and analytics.
If you lack specific skills or feel you need to improve some, take steps to make that change. Doing so could help you learn what you excel at or, better yet, which things you do or don't necessarily have the time for.
For instance, you may not have or want to take the time to get a degree; however, you could use improvement on strategic planning. In that case, you can take a short course in technical strategy.
There's never any harm in brushing up on your skills or gaining new ones. It'll always be to your benefit and growth as a professional to do so.
Are You a Leader?
One of the prominent factors of being a successful engineer manager is if you have the personality for it. Some people make great leaders, others are great at support, and some may be better at taking action.
You have to evaluate your personality and take note if you already demonstrate the skills of a leader in your current role. As a team leader, you're in charge of delegating, supporting, decision making and in the end, you are responsible for the success –or even shortcomings– of your team.
They say you have to have thick skin as a manager, and that's certainly true with this position. It means you must be willing to take constructive criticism without taking it personally and make the proper changes to improve. Understanding that you can be wrong at times is how to be a good manager and a great leader.
Management isn't the Only Option
As you probably know, there are other career paths you can take as a senior engineer. It's not often mentioned, but you can continue to move up in your career path without going into management.
There are increased levels from senior engineer level II, staff engineer then finally ending with a principal engineer. Each of these roles has a different set of responsibilities and skills needed to succeed. However, they are great options for those looking to stay away from the managerial path.
In the End, Do What's Best for You
Some may feel market pressure or peer pressure to move up the career ladder into management. And to be honest, who hasn't felt that way at least once during their career?
We live in a society where if you aren't constantly moving up or advancing your career growth, you can be viewed as unambitious. However, that's far from the truth, and you, as a senior engineer, already know this.
Not all people are suited for or are interested in management positions, and there is nothing wrong with that. Nexton helps senior engineers, just like you, find the best career path for them. Whether management or just finding the right company where you can excel, we are in your corner. The most important aspect to keep in mind as you choose your career path is what is right for you.