What Does a Director of Engineering Do? (With Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 29, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Companies rely on engineering experts to help provide oversight for engineering teams and execute projects that align with company goals. Many engineering experts pursue director of engineering roles to have more input in company and department operations. Learning more about what a director of engineering might do and how to become one can help you determine if this career path is the right fit for your professional goals and personal values.

In this article, we explore what a director of engineering is, review some duties you might perform in this role, list how you can become a director of engineering and detail salary and job outlook information.

What is a director of engineering?

A director of engineering is a leader that oversees and guides a company's engineering department. Also known as the vice president of engineering or the head of engineering, these professionals help ensure that an organization's engineering goals align with the company's values, mission and goals. Often, these professionals involve themselves with administrative, financial and human resource tasks to help promote the success of the department.

Related: 15 Types of Manager Jobs

What does a director of engineering do?

The duties of engineering directors may vary between employers and an individual's scope of responsibilities. Some common duties you might perform as a director of an engineering department include:

  • Overseeing engineer teams

  • Managing department budgets

  • Designing engineering strategies

  • Verifying project compliance with engineering best practices

  • Hiring department engineers

  • Collaborating with company stakeholders

  • Updating department policies and procedures

Directors also might have different duties based on their specific engineering specialty. For example, a director who specializes in structural engineering might also analyze proposed project plans to determine if a potential structure meets engineering best practices and safety standards. A director who specializes in electrical engineering might help resolve complex electrical problems for individuals working on an electrical project.

How to become a director of engineering

Here are some steps to follow if you want to become a director of engineering:

1. Complete higher education

Many engineering directors have higher education, such as a bachelor's, master's or doctorate level degree. This can help them understand the technical aspects of the department they lead and can help them progress in their career to achieve the title of director. There are many degree programs to consider when pursuing your education. Reflecting on your engineering interests, experience, previous education and professional goals can help you select the degree program that aligns with these factors. Some programs to consider include:

  • Civil engineering

  • Structural engineering

  • Chemical engineering

  • Electrical engineering

  • Mechanical engineering

  • Computer engineering

  • Aerospace engineering

Related: FAQ: Is Chemical Engineering a Good Major? (With Jobs)

2. Gain experience

Many companies analyze a candidate's experience when determining if they're the right fit for a director role. It's important to pursue positions that can help you develop important skill sets that you can use as a director. Each level in your career path offers unique skills and invaluable experience that can help you succeed as a future director. Some roles that can help you advance in your career include:

  • Engineering intern

  • Entry-level civil engineer

  • Engineering assistant

  • Entry-level mechanical engineer

Related: 8 Types of Engineering Jobs

3. Develop your skills

Directors use a wide array of skills that can help them make effective decisions. As a director, you are influential in a company's culture and leadership environment. Developing specific skills enable you to become a positive influence within an organization and can help improve customer loyalty and employee satisfaction. Common skills you might use as a director can include:

  • Engineering practices

  • Critical reasoning

  • Leadership

  • Stress management

  • Communication

  • Team collaboration

4. Obtain certifications

Many certifications enable you to showcase certain skills or capabilities. This can help an employer understand your potential value to the organization. Aside from specialty engineering certifications, you might consider these certification programs:

  • PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

  • Certified ScrumMaster

  • Project Management Professional (PMP) certification

  • Six Sigma Green Belt certification

  • Certified Manager

5. Pursue advanced roles

Once you've gained experience in an entry-level position, it's important to pursue mid-level positions. These types of positions often involve a certain level of supervision, which can help you once you become a director because you may likely supervise individuals in that position as well. From there, you can start applying for managerial-level positions. This can help you gain an understanding of financial activities and can help you understand more about company goals and how to help a department achieve those goals.

6. Apply for director of engineering positions

Director-level positions often require several years of experience in senior positions. Reviewing different job descriptions can help you determine if you meet the common prerequisites at this level. Each company has different expectations and requirements for directors, so it's important to review each job description before applying for the role. Common requirements many companies look for in potential directors include:

  • Several years of experience in managing teams

  • Several years of experience in a senior-level data-driven role

  • Bachelor's degree in engineering or related program

Related: 35 Director of Engineering Interview Questions and Sample Answers

Director of engineering salary

The national average salary for directors of engineering is $139,450 per year. This salary may vary based on the employer, experience, education and engineering specialty of the individual. Many directors also can take part in many different employment benefits, such as:

  • 401(k) retirement plan

  • Medical insurance

  • Profit-sharing

  • Life insurance

  • Paid time off

  • Parental leave

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.

Job outlook for director of engineering

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't report on every level in the engineering profession, it does report a job outlook of 4% for architectural and engineering managers. This growth between 2020 and 2030 is likely due to the need to replace individuals leaving the workforce, such as retirement or career changes. Certifications and higher degree programs, such as a master's or doctorate, can help you improve your competitiveness in the job market.

Please note that none of the companies or certifications mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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