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What do I need to do to become a structural engineering project manager?

What do I need to do to become a structural engineering project manager?

What do I need to do to become a structural engineering project manager?

I am feeling frustrated with my current project engineer position. I have 11 years of structural engineering experience with 7 of those years as a PE. I wasn't growing and developing as a structural engineer two years ago so I decided to leave my employer for a new engineering firm that had younger management and a greater amount of experience. I was hired with the understanding that once I learned the way the company ran I would be promoted to become a project manager. I have the design skills and have managed and developed draftsmen and design engineers and am currently still completing these tasks.

I would like advice on how to get promoted to a project manager. My current engineering firm has a total of four engineers and two principals for a total staff of six. Currently both principals manage the firm's projects, but the day to day running of the projects are up to the two project engineers, one of them being myself. During my performance evaluation all I was told that I need to communicate more with the principals regarding the projects I'm working on and to manage design hours by the design engineers to become a project manager. With my experience I don't need to check in with the principal running the project until the project is a week out from being sent for permit typically. I don't have control over which design engineer is working on a specific project and it might change from week to week, so I can't manage the hours billed to the project.

Am I at too small of an engineering firm where management is top heavy with 2 of the 6 employees being management? I'm not sure what to do, I feel like I should be a project manager by now. Theoretically I'm running projects, but I don't have the title of project manager. I don't write proposals, manage project man hours or sign/seal my own work. Have I stayed at the wrong engineering firms where management is too busy to develop/mentor me? Am I the problem where I shouldn't be promoted? Should I look for a position at a larger engineering firm where I can be mentored? Are there any decent career books with developing as a structural engineer? Ultimately I would like to obtain the skill set to own and run my own engineering firm, but I feel like my career is off the tracks and I'm not going to be able to obtain this goal. I'm frustrated with having no guidance.

RE: What do I need to do to become a structural engineering project manager?

Here is my advice:

1. Take the advice given during your performance evaluation. Take steps to address those comments and be prepared to give examples of how you have addressed those issues since your last evaluation.

2. Get to the point where you write proposals, manage hours, and seal your own work. You typically need to take on those tasks before gaining any sort of management position.

3. Ask to be promoted. Seriously. Many times, management may assume that all is well unless you speak up. If it does not happen this year, ask next year, and the next year. People need to be reminded of your goals.

4. I think you are spot on with your hunch that your company is top heavy in management. Right now, 2 out of 6 people are principles. If you took on a management role, that would mean 50% of the company was upper management. Doesn't make sense unless you are a sole proprietor or partnership. Unfortunately, the only remedy is to leave unless they hire more people and move you up the ladder.

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