Technical fields provide a myriad of opportunities, especially for entry-level employees. Eventually, however, it is natural to seek career advancement — and when this happens, your strictly technical bachelor’s degree may no longer cut it. This is when a graduate degree can prove beneficial.
The next big decision? Which type of master’s degree to pursue based on how it will align with your future career. A degree in business management could be a great choice — it’s versatile, so you can leverage your existing technical skills while also filling in any gaps. Better yet? You could pursue a degree in business management online, allowing you to continue your education while continuing your current career.
Interested in making the switch from a technical role to a managerial position? This is never an easy transition, but it could certainly prove worthwhile. When you clarify your goals and pursue the right graduate program, an exciting new career trajectory may be well within reach. Below, we’ll show you the next step — and how to improve management skills to stand out as a leader in your field. We’re here to reveal how a management degree can help every step of the way.
The Role of Technical Knowledge and Skills in Management
Technical skills are not always vital to management, and, in many situations, it is perfectly possible to succeed in leadership roles without acquiring these more niche abilities. Similarly, many technical professionals excel without ever developing a management-oriented skill set.
Both approaches are common, but they come with distinct limitations. A technical degree without leadership skills or management acumen, for example, can make it incredibly difficult to move up the career ladder after you’ve scored an entry-level position. Unfortunately, developing additional skills can be difficult when you are occupied with the day-to-day demands of your strictly technical work.
The good news? It is perfectly feasible to leverage your technical skill set to achieve success in a managerial capacity. A lot depends on your prior experience and unique goals, but one thing is clear: employers greatly admire employees with technical skills, so long as they aren’t emphasized to the detriment of other core competencies.
Decision-making improves when aided by a technical perspective. If you have a strong grasp of the technical challenges related to a given task or role, you will better understand how to overcome these through strategic resource allocation or goal setting. What’s more, the detail-oriented nature of your prior technical training will help you see otherwise hidden concerns — but your leadership capabilities will ensure that these are dealt with promptly and effectively.
Perhaps the greatest value of technical skills in management? The ability to relate to other employees. Your technical background helps you empathize with the employees responsible for the day-to-day technical concerns that you, the manager, will oversee. Aware of your background and your diverse skill set, team members will be able to place greater trust in you as a leader and find it easier to connect on a deeper level.
Industries That Benefit from Technical Management
Technical expertise is essential in many fields, while management transcends sectors and is vital in all areas of the modern economy. A unique blend of these two components can prove transformative in many fields, such as:
IT is one of the most opportunity-filled areas in technical management. Project management IT represents an especially compelling path. As an IT project manager, for example, you will be responsible for planning, implementing, and executing projects. In general, you will play a significant role in driving innovation throughout the industry. Other leadership opportunities include IT operations management and IT security management. Eventually, you may even be qualified to pursue esteemed roles such as IT director.
Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals
Biotechnology firms, like many organizations, need experienced project and product managers, not to mention marketing leaders and HR experts, to facilitate strong performance across the entire organization. A background in biotechnology or pharmaceuticals can prove invaluable, with former technicians, scientists, and even salespeople drawing on their unique skills to better connect with a variety of employees. These connections will prove even stronger upon exploring essential concepts through the MS in Management.
Environmental and Sustainability
From clean energy to sustainable product development, skilled managers are needed in every corner of the green economy. These professionals help organizations meet their environmental objectives while facilitating reductions in operational expenses and improving productivity and profitability. Green industries are increasingly emphasizing sustainability efforts, where managers with a background in environmental science can draw on their knowledge and passion to promote eco-friendly practices and initiatives.
Transitioning From a Technical to Managerial Role
Following a few years of success in the workforce, it is common for technical professionals to desire new challenges and opportunities, often taking the form of management aspirations. Unfortunately, many technical employees struggle to make this transition — often because they lack the skills, knowledge, or credentials needed to score in-demand managerial positions.
The first step may involve determining why this switch is desired in the first place. From there, you can delve into the “how” of moving up the career ladder, including educational planning and networking. We’ll discuss both aspects of this exciting transition below.
Benefits of Transitioning to Management
Your growth as a professional should not end upon landing your first job in your field of choice. Pursuing a management role represents one of the best strategies for avoiding stagnation. Motivated by this ambitious goal, you will feel driven to pursue new skills, discover new concepts, and expand your professional network. This growth will be satisfying in and of itself, no matter where it leads professionally. You will emerge feeling more confident and perhaps even more passionate about your work.
Expanded Skill Set
Perhaps your current skill set is almost entirely technical in nature. As you make your transition into a management role, you will retain the technical skills that you so highly value while also expanding your horizons to include several soft skills (such as communication and creativity) and leadership skills. (like delegation and integrity). The simple act of developing and honing new skills can be inherently gratifying — but, if you remain satisfied with the status quo of your strictly technical career, you may never get the opportunity to experience the joy of continuous, lifelong learning.
Career Advancement Opportunities
Technical professionals may find it difficult to secure advanced positions without graduate credentials, regardless of experience or past job performance. There is no substitute for targeted management training — and employers recognize this. With graduate-level training comes a myriad of new opportunities often beyond the grasp of strictly technical employees.
Job Security and Marketability
While technical work is often stable, the job market is changing quickly — and the positions that felt secure a few short years ago may not be quite as reliable in the future. This is a great time to skill up and prepare for the competitive job market of tomorrow. Management has widely been cited as an automation-proof field, and, while technological developments will no doubt bring new challenges, the ability to find meaningful work will not necessarily be one of them — at least, from the manager’s perspective.
Job Satisfaction and Fulfillment
There is an inherent sense of satisfaction that comes with advancing your skill set. When you take on a leadership role, this fulfillment stems, in part, from the knowledge that your daily efforts have an outsized impact. As a leader, you have a greater opportunity to drive impressive outcomes and inspire other professionals. Although the relationship between management and job satisfaction is complicated, research suggests there may be a positive correlation between advancing your skills and a sense of personal fulfillment.
Possible Challenges of Transitioning to a Management Role
As you consider moving into management, be mindful of the associated challenges. There is a definite learning curve, and, while your MS in Management will provide valuable preparation, some lessons can only be acquired through experience. Should you proceed with a management career path, consider the following challenges inherent to transitioning to management:
Loss of Hands-On Technical Work
Many technical professionals find the hands-on nature of their work deeply gratifying. Unfortunately, this is often the first thing to go when you move into management. In this role, you will spend much less time working through technical endeavors. Rather, will use your technical knowledge to inform your decision-making process as a leader. If the technical tasks themselves represent the core of what you love about your work, delegating them instead of completing them yourself may feel like a real loss.
New Responsibilities and Expectations
As you move beyond the technical roles and responsibilities to which you are accustomed, you will be expected to take on new responsibilities that challenge you in novel ways. You will also be held to higher expectations, imbuing you with a new sense of responsibility for not only your own work but also the performance of your team members. This can feel like a lot of pressure, especially if you act as the liaison between employees and executives.
Navigating People Management
While all types of employees can benefit from developing emotional intelligence and other people skills, some work more closely with their colleagues than others. Management necessitates a lot of daily person-to-person interaction, as you will need to provide continual support and guidance to other employees. This diverges considerably from the straightforward nature of your previous technical tasks; people are inherently more nuanced and more difficult to predict. Still, the rewards of successfully guiding them can be considerable — you will know that you have a positive influence and your work makes a genuine difference.
The UTC MSM Degree: A Path to Success
Do you have a technical background and a desire to pursue management roles? If so, you could be an ideal candidate for the Master of Science in Management from UTC. Reach out today to learn more about this graduate program and its potential impact on your career.