The Difference Between an Engineering Manager & a Project Manager


An engineering manager is an engineer who holds a management position. He may be in charge of an engineering project, program, team, division or department. A project manager is a manager in charge of administering a project. These projects may include, but are not limited to, construction, software development and landscape architecture development.


An engineering manager has technical knowledge and skills in an engineering field. A project manager has management skills and may also have technical skills in other fields, such as computer science, construction building or landscape architecture. For example, a computer or information technology (IT) project manager develops the goals, requirements, budgets and schedules and supervises personnel for a company’s software or IT project. A construction project manager performs similar tasks for a company’s building construction project. A project manager for a landscape architecture firm performs similar functions for a company’s landscape architecture project, ranging from the development of parks, playgrounds, shopping centers or waterfront improvement.


Supervising other engineers and various personnel involved in developing products, systems, processes or machines are duties of an engineering manager. If she works in an industrial plant, she may set production targets and the overall direction of the engineering team, and coordinate production, operations, quality assurance, testing and maintenance. Some engineering managers may manage a research and development team involved in creating new products or processes. A project manager may supervise a wide variety of projects, depending on her industry and specialization, if any. A project manager is responsible for meeting project goals and targets within a given time frame and with the optimum use of resources. While the same is true of an engineering manager, her projects are limited to engineering projects.


A combination of technical knowledge in a specific engineering field as well as management skills are required of engineering managers. Project Managers possess a combination of management skills and technical knowledge of some other field, such as construction, computers or landscape architecture. Project Managers may also be generalist managers, in which case they may be essentially managers but may be required by their company to learn some degree of the technical knowledge requirements of their job along the way. For example, a project manager for a computer company may or may not be a computer science expert, but he may be required to acquire some degree of computer knowledge, depending on the requirements of his job.


A bachelor’s degree in a special field of engineering, such as electrical, mechanical, industrial, chemical or software engineering, is necessary for the engineering manager . He must have an advanced degree in engineering management or business administration, either upon assumption of office, or as he moves to a management position. A project manager may have three tracks: she may have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business management or a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s degree in another field or vice versa. These other fields include, but are not limited to, technical fields such as computer science or landscape architecture.

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