To become a research and development (R&D) manager, you must have an education background in the hard sciences or engineering. It is also advisable to have an advanced degree in your chosen field of study. Managers must also develop strong leadership and time management skills in order to effectively command a team and execute a product development plan.
No matter what sort of research and development career you are planning to enter, you will need both a bachelor's and a master's degree in order to become a research and development manager. Many R&D managers are found within the pharmaceutical industry, ensuring that new pharmaceutical drugs meet governmental regulations before entering the market. In order to succeed in this endeavor, having a degree in chemistry or biology is very useful.
Other research and development jobs involve designing new technologies to simplify people's lives. Technology research and development careers require degrees in computer science, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, and similar subjects. As an R&D manager for a high tech company, you will put your education to good use by managing the design and testing of critical devices, which may include anything from life-saving medical devices to sleeker electronic readers.
Although a bachelor's degree will prepare you to work as a staff engineer or scientist on a research development team, it is not enough to help you become a research and development manager. Companies that are looking to hire R&D managers typically require that candidates have at least a master's degree, if not a doctorate degree (PhD) in order to become a research and development manager. An advanced degree in the hard sciences or engineering means that you will publish many articles in your field, thus expanding your influence and building your knowledge in a particular subject. Companies value master's degree holders or PhD candidates who have published a significant amount of work in well-known journals. Such work shows that they are dedicated to the field and capable of advising and managing an entire research and development team.
To become a research and development manager you will also need to have excellent leadership skills, which oftentimes means having great time management skills. Products are usually on a tight manufacturing schedule. Due to the nature of the production environment, as a manager you will have to figure out how best to schedule your employees' time and prioritize tasks. Being able to communicate well with your employees, praising them for a job well done or offering constructive criticism, is also necessary for any R&D manager.