What is a Director of Engineering?
Whether they work in aerospace, defense, construction, technology, retail or pharmaceuticals, it is the job of a Director of Engineering to coordinate all engineering activities within his or her organization. Directors of Engineering are responsible for making sure that goals are met, standards of quality are upheld and legal regulations are adhered to.
Directors of Engineering typically report to higher-level executive level management, and oversee one or more lower-level Engineering Managers. While Engineering Managers work on a daily basis with engineers and their ongoing projects, Directors of Engineering take a more holistic approach and often rely on big-picture analysis to determine a course of action. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Architectural and Engineering Managers, which includes Directors of Engineering, is rising by 2 percent. This is expected to result in the opening of 3,700 openings through 2024.
Director of Engineering Duties and Responsibilities
In order to make sure that their organization’s engineering practices are effective, safe and streamlined, Directors of Engineering perform many essential duties. We analyzed several job postings to identify these core Director of Engineering duties and responsibilities.
Create Plans and Systems
As a Director of Engineering, you will be responsible for working with your organization’s executive staff to develop new strategies, as well as to make changes to existing ones. The goal of these new and modified strategies is generally to reduce unnecessary cost, reduce the amount of time it takes for the engineering team to complete their projects and grow the organization as a whole.
Oversee Developmental Processes
The Director of Engineering is charged with the task of evaluating schedules, quality assurance procedures and new releases in order to assess their value. Since the end goal of the Director of Engineering is to ensure that the engineering process runs smoothly, these developmental processes must be examined systematically and carefully so that the positive and negative aspects of each one can be properly weighed.
Analyze Metrics and Finances
A big part of being a Director of Engineering is being able to understand, interpret and analyze complex sets of data. This can include the analysis of profits, losses, gross margin, operating income, assets, revenue, cost of goods, liabilities and more. This analysis helps you and the rest of the executive staff identify problems, come up with solutions and consolidate resources.
It is the responsibility of the Director of Engineering to make sure that safety protocols are followed, quality assurance and quality control is conducted in an effective and thorough manner, no workplace safety hazards are present and that all codes and regulations are complied with. This can be accomplished by closely observing the practices of all employees involved in the engineering process, as well as training and guiding employees to ensure that safe practices are followed.
Director of Engineering Skills
Directors of Engineering are strategic, analytical and innovative. They are able to break down and translate complicated sets of data just as easily as they are able to lead an entire team of engineers, and they thrive on creating new processes while simultaneously adhering to tried and true methods. In addition to these general skills and personality traits, employers are looking for Directors of Engineering with the following skills.
Core skills: Based on our analysis of of job postings, employers are seeking Directors of Engineering with these core skills. If you’d like to be a Director of Engineering, home in on the following.
- Directing projects with cross-functional teams
- Excellent written and verbal communication
- Able to make well-informed decisions under pressure
- Interpreting data and metrics
- Managing budgets and resources
- Building teams
- Strong organizational skills
Advanced skills: While employers do not necessarily require potential candidates to have these skills, they are often viewed as preferable by employers. To expand your career opportunities, work on mastering the following.
- Experience with coding and software (in the technology sector)
- Active in relevant industry communities
- Passion for exploring new and groundbreaking processes
Director of Engineering Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for Architectural and Engineering Managers, which includes Directors of Engineering, is $132,800. Directors of Engineering in the 10th percentile earn $84,710 per year, while those in the 90th percentile earn upwards of $200,000 per year. Directors of Engineering in California, Texas and Colorado earn the highest median annual wage in the United States: $155,600, $151,400 and $149,500, respectively.
Director of Engineering Resources
We collected this list of resources to help you continue exploring your career as a Director of Engineering. Read on to discover everything from relevant blogs to helpful books.
On the Web
MachineDesign.com – Frequently updated website full of articles, blog posts, news stories and learning resources related to mechanical engineering.
Uber Engineering Blog – This blog is centered around the engineering team of the popular ride-sharing service Uber. It features visualizations of data sets, explanations of Uber’s engineering tactics and more.
Engineering.com – This website is packed with articles on engineering in all sectors, including computer technology, aerospace, defense and more.
@stevewoz – Steve Wozniak is one of Apple’s two co-founders as well as a world-class computer engineer.
@BillNye – Bill Nye is a mechanical engineer, scientific educator, television star and the current CEO of The Planetary Society.
@spiantino – Serkan Piantino is the Director of Engineering at Facebook’s artificial intelligence research lab.
507 Mechanical Movements – Packed with hundreds of intricate illustrations and detailed explanations, this book is a must-have for any mechanical engineer. Covers the first one hundred years of the American Industrial Revolution.
Beginning Software Engineering – Since this book does not assume any prior experience with either engineering or management, it makes for an easy introduction into the world of software engineering as well as a great basic reference guide.
First, Break All the Rules – Uses meta-analysis of data compiled on over 80,000 managers to identify the specific practices that set outstanding managers apart from the rest.
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