The specific job functions of an engineering supervisor can vary according to the engineering field in which that person works. A mechanical engineer, for example, will often have different job responsibilities than a biomedical engineer. Some common job functions for any engineering supervisor may include overseeing projects, managing a staff of other engineers, handling payroll and scheduling, interacting with customers and vendors, overseeing safety programs, conducting surveys and other field-related tasks, and inspecting equipment for proper function. Other responsibilities can vary according to the specific job field as well as the company for which the engineer works.
It is common for an engineering supervisor to be a senior member of a team with plenty of experience in the field. He or she will hold a college degree, and many may hold master's degrees or even doctoral degrees. A combination of training and experience will qualify an engineer to become an engineering supervisor, though many do not hold degrees above a bachelor's degree and choose instead to simply move up through a company's advancement structure by gaining plenty of practical experience. Supervisory experience is usually required before a person can become an engineering supervisor; being a team leader, for example, is a great experience for a person looking to advance his or her career.
Managing a team of engineers is a primary responsibility of the engineering supervisor. He or she will be the contact person for questions or concerns regarding a project, and the supervisor will need to make appropriate changes as necessary. A knowledge of the engineering field in which the supervisor works is vital, as other engineers will refer to him or her for guidance. The supervisor will oversee complex processes, from civil engineering to mechanical or even chemical engineering, depending on his or her training.
Engineers often work in potentially dangerous conditions, so the engineering supervisor will usually be responsible for designing and implementing safety strategies to ensure workers are within health laws and regulations. Mine engineers, for example, work in exceptionally dangerous conditions, so the supervisor must have knowledge regarding air exchange systems, mine structure and reinforcement, and hazardous materials handling. The supervisor must thoroughly inspect all work areas before any other employees are permitted to work in them. Safety equipment must be worn at all times and rules regarding safety must be enforced by the supervisor. If injuries or deaths occur, the supervisor may be held accountable.