Engineering is one of the most in-demand fields right now. Many different companies in various sectors need engineers.
There are as many engineering skills as there are engineering titles. Some of them are common to almost every engineering position you’ll ever encounter. Now the question is: which ones are employers looking for?
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Engineers are problem solvers. No matter what capacity they’re working in, they’re essentially determining how to solve a problem. A petro-chemical engineer may be solving the “problem” of new product development. A civil engineer could be solving a problem of land use or water drainage. A mechanical engineer might resolve an issue with a machine design.
As a result, every engineer needs the ability to think critically. They should be able to constructively approach a problem and turn it over in their mind to see it from as many perspectives as possible. They should actively work to solve the issues presented to them.
Being good at critical thinking and problem solving doesn’t mean always having an “aha!” moment. Sometimes it means pitching an idea and getting shot down. Asking “why” and discussing problems are also hallmarks of good critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
What other engineering skills do employers look for when they’re hiring engineers? Teamwork skills.
Very rarely will one engineer solve a problem by themselves. It’s much more common for the team to hash out ideas with each other until they come up with a viable solution.
This is reflected in most engineering programs. You probably did several group projects. Those projects and experiences will serve you well long after you’ve entered the engineering field. They form the basis of your teamwork skills. Keep improving those skills to really stand out from the crowd.
Engineers often don’t put much emphasis on communication skills as part of the engineering skill set. Your employer might. Communication skills are vital in the workplace. Writing a clear and coherent email is just as important as expressing an idea at a meeting.
Being able to communicate clearly and effectively, in any format, is an important skill in just about any job. Engineers in particular need to practice good communication. Clear instructions and timely communication can avoid serious mishaps.
Communication is also important for anyone who dreams of eventually taking on a leadership role. If you want to continue furthering your career, take a moment and evaluate your communication skills.
STEM Knowledge and Skills
Of course, employers who are looking to hire engineers need the people they hire to have engineering skills. Engineers should have a solid foundation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
This is particularly true if you’re a biological engineer or a chemical engineer. Not only do you need good engineering skills, you also need a solid science foundation in your respective discipline. Every engineer should have a fundamental understanding of physics, in addition to chemistry and biology.
A Detail-Oriented Nature
Engineering is one of those disciplines where even the smallest detail can make the largest difference. As a result, employers look for engineers whose skill sets include being detail-oriented.
You don’t need to be the most meticulous person ever to be a successful engineer, but double-checking your work and looking out for the small details will certainly help.
Engineers in any field or specialization should master these essential engineering skills. You may believe your specialized, hard skills are the key to your success, but these softer skills matter.