This is a great question and difficult to answer. I am a Mechanical Engineering Manager in R&D consumer electronics and I have also done this in a medical device company. So as a minimum for education, I would say a BS in engineering. Ideally, MBA or Management in technology.
From a travel perspective, it depends on the area and the company. I have traveled for position as engineering manager. I have had resources that were not co-located with me and I had to work through issues with the suppliers and audit potential new suppliers.
From a daily task standpoint, my experience is based on product development. There generally are more meetings in management than as an individual contributor. There is a certain amount of time in making sure my direct reports are delivering to their expectations, and time in developing my direct reports. I also work with a wide group of people from other areas of the company to support the projects and my employees. It is important to build relationships with peers, other managers, and individual contributors. One of the least fun parts of the job is the employee evaluations, typically this is once a year. I also visit suppliers, do audits, work with issues when the supplier does not meet expectations.
Every day is different and there is single answer for what I do daily.
I hope this helps.
Glenn recommends the following next steps:
- BS in Engineering in the area that you want to develop skills and eventually manage
- Work as an individual contributor with in your degree and the area that you wish to manage
- MBA or Master in Management of Technology
- Pay attention when you are working to what works well and what does not work well for managers