Engineering manager

Probably the most common path out of a coding career is becoming an engineering manager (EM). In many organizations, EMs:

  • Make more money
  • Have more impact
  • Have a more central position in the company hierarchy and information flow
  • Spend less time worrying about implementation details.

However, this isn’t always true, as we will explore later.

Next step of your career

You will spend most of your coding career reporting to EMs, so it might feel natural to view that as the next step. Even more likely, you harbor the armchair quarterback’s niggling suspicion: “I could do that job better!

“‘Things would be different if I was in charge,’ the belief that authority is an all-powerful magic wand you can wave and fix things.”

- Mark Roddy

Companies also naturally want to take their best coders and put them in charge of other coders. Despite the best efforts of companies to create equivalent individual contributor career tracks, the dearth of good managers means that most organization incentive structures encourage some form of Peter PrincipleThe Peter Principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence”: employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.

Huge career change

However, heed the advice of basically everybody who has ever gone from engineering to engineering management; it is a huge career change. You go from developing software to working on peopleware. If you are in the right headspace for the role, you will see this as a good thing! Humans are a part of your systems, too!

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