Engineering is one of the most exciting and potentially lucrative professional paths a young person can choose, and is highly sought after as a career. However, it is also highly demanding in terms of gaining the skills and knowledge required to get a foothold in the industry.
In other industries, you might be able to get started in a variety of ways. Engineering, like most math- and science-based careers, is slightly more rigid in terms of entry path.
Most firms require potential applicants to not only possess relevant qualifications but also to display evidence that they possess other skills, which can be more difficult to quantify.
The “top” engineers all have different strengths and weaknesses that they bring to their teams and projects. However, they have some essential skills in common which allow them to work on the biggest engineering projects all over the world.
Here’s what they are.
1. STEM Skills / Knowledge
The core foundation of any engineering degree is a series of qualifications in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects at university, masters and post-grad levels. At heart, engineering is a series of mathematical and logistical problems to be worked out and resolved so work can take place or continue.
2. Ability to Work as Part of a Team
Nobody completes an engineering project by themselves: there is a vast team working on various parts of the project. It’s rare that any one engineer will be chosen to head up the whole thing. This means that the ability to work as part of a team is essential. Participating in course projects at a university gets budding engineers used to working within teams. That experience is then built upon throughout their working life.
3. Strong Analytical Mind
Engineering is a profession full of problem solving. Therefore, almost every task needs to be approached with an analytical mind. The solution has to be developed so that it meets all of the requirements with as little risk in the construction process as possible. This might involve experimentation and testing before work actually begins so budget isn’t wasted on failed attempts.
4. Attention to Detail
Engineering projects are extremely complex. There are millions of details that have to be thought through during the planning and construction processes. Engineers need to possess a high level of attention to detail to ensure nothing important gets forgotten that could potentially derail the enterprise. If the success or failure of a project falls upon you, attention to detail is one of the most important attributes you can possess.
5. Excellent Communication Skills
Engineering is an industry in which a lot of technical language is used on a daily basis. When talking to clients and people that might not understand that sort of technical language, use plain English. Additionally, clear communication is vital when working with other teams and personnel on any project, and in letting other people know what you expect of them.
6. Desire to Learn
Any diligent professional who is passionate about what they do makes an effort to keep abreast of industry changes and developments. They take it upon themselves to learn new techniques and new technologically advanced pieces of equipment in order to perform their job to the best of their abilities. Be able to demonstrate that you know the current state of the engineering industry and can work effectively within it. Anticipate where it might go in the future.
7. Leadership and Management Skills
As an engineer progresses through their career, they will be given more responsibility, perhaps eventually leading to becoming the manager of a sub-team or even the entire team. To be successful in this venture they need to possess leadership skills. These might include the knowledge about when to step in or back off; how to best utilize a team member’s strengths; how and when to discipline someone and so on. You don’t become a top engineer without leading at some point, so possessing and developing these skills is vital.