People in management were straight-shooting accountants with an eye on the numbers. However, those days are gone, as now people with traditionally technical degrees can also work in managerial positions.

Take engineering managers as an example; not only do these professionals oversee the technical aspect of engineering, but they also help build their teams. They help management and technical workers collaborate and communicate. They also audit the equipment and assess the viability of new products. There is a range of career options within the sector, from plant manager to technical consultant. But what can you do to become a better engineering manager? Fortunately, engineering is not a stagnant profession. There are several ways an engineering management professional can advance in the field.

Get a degree in management: Engineers are not known for their business skills, but with a master of engineering management, they can improve their management skills. Nonetheless, a graduate-level degree can also increase earning potential. According to a 2015 study by Georgetown University, college graduates with bachelor’s degrees earn $17,000 less than those with graduate degrees. Furthermore, getting enrolling in graduate school can help you get in touch with industry leaders and learn from the best. You will also increase your network and get better opportunities. Furthermore, a graduate degree can help you get a head start in your management career and give you a competitive advantage over other applicants.

Plan: All good things come to those who plan. Try to visualize where you want to be within the next five to ten years. Then take some time to reassess your professional life. Ask yourself if your current position going to help your goal? Critically analyze your performance and motivate yourself to work harder. Having a purpose can also help you realize which company is a better fit. For example, high-growth companies have more growth possibilities. So, instead of working in big tech companies, you should switch to unicorn companies. Read articles about how other engineering managers climbed the ladder and try to apply those lessons.

Improve your interpersonal skills: Nowadays, companies are looking for people with a mix of technical and soft skills. Within technical fields, like engineering, employers prioritize applicants with interpersonal skills. According to a LinkedIn purport, training for soft skills is a priority for talent development. Therefore, engineers have to improve their soft skills to succeed in the industry. Experts believe that not only do interpersonal skills improve efficiency, but they also improve job satisfaction. Often engineers have to deal with several people from different backgrounds. Soft skills can help them reduce mistakes and improve efficiency.

Get certification: Engineers can enroll in certificate programs to advance their management careers. Not only can these programs help them improve their skills, but they can also increase their earning potential. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, an engineer with a license earns approximately $4,500 more than competitors. Several universities offer short online programs in management for engineering students.

Work on your experience: Another way to advance your career is by working in diverse positions. Always be open to new challenges and possibilities. Companies want management teams who can handle challenges and provide innovative solutions. Work in project management to learn the fundamentals of business management. Learn how to balance budgets, deadlines and deal with clients. A project management position can also help you think holistically about your organization. You will also learn critical leadership skills such as communication and strategic assessment as a project manager. Working in different roles and positions will improve your portfolio. Recruiters prefer applicants with diverse experience who work on highly successful plans. However, don’t confine yourself to formal projects. Working with charitable organizations is an excellent way to improve your team-building and communication skills.

Get a mentor: Behind every successful person is a mentor. While mentoring is an underappreciated practice in engineering, getting a coach has several advantages. A mentor can help you become a better employee. As mentors have a lot of experience, they can guide you about the industry. They can help you avoid common pitfalls and tell you about possible shortcuts. Furthermore, they can advise you and provide constructive criticism about your work. Mentors can also put you in touch with other professionals when you want to transition into another role.

Become a better manager: The easiest way to advance your engineering management career is by becoming a better manager. Excellent engineering managers know that management is all about helping others become better at their jobs. Therefore, you have to empower your teams by celebrating their milestones. Managers are also problem solvers and known to encourage healthy competition and reduce stress among team members.

Engineering managers spend most of their time in managerial and administrative positions. However, they should try sharpening their technical skills. Sometimes engineering managers have to help fellow team members resolve technical problems; hence, the journey towards learning never ends.

(This is a slightly modified version of an article originally published in GISUser.com. The original article can be found at https://gisuser.com/2021/05/ways-to-advance-your-career-in-engineering-management/)