Becoming an engineer is not easy, but it is far from impossible. In order to become the best engineer you can be, you need a certain set of skills that not everyone possesses. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the top ten skills you need to have to succeed as an engineer.
1. Mathematical Skills
The ability to do math is necessary if you want to become a successful engineer. You need to be able to effectively solve a wide variety of mathematical problems and equations to do your job. Without these skills, you won’t be able to operate the equipment you are responsible for maintaining, and you will find yourself unable to get promoted or perform new tasks asked of you by your superiors.
2. Strong Communication Skills
Effective communication with your team, both in person and technically through time-sensitive email, is vital to your success as an engineer. You need to communicate with all levels of management, from the CEO down to the receptionist, to ensure that all are on the same page. All members of your team must be able to work together and listen to one another without being afraid that certain individuals will speak over them. An effective communicator is a decentralized leader!
3. Critical Thinking
Think critically, or don’t think at all! Critical thinking is essential in order to think through a problem quickly, troubleshoot it immediately, and solve it well. If you can’t do this, you are certainly unlikely to be considered a top engineer due to the sheer volume of work that must be taken care of by all engineers when working on projects. Without the ability to think critically, you will simply go along with others’ ideas without questioning them and will repeat what they’ve said rather than doing your own research. Your supervisor will notice this lack of critical thinking and pass you up for someone who is able to think critically.
4. Hands-On Experience
You can’t just sit in front of a computer for several hours and expect to become a top engineer; you need experience working on real projects with real deadlines, clients, and engineers. Your ability to work in a team ultimately depends upon having had lots of practice interacting with others. You need to be able to work with a wide array of personalities, collectively and individually, in order to be successful.
5. Leadership Skills
Being able to lead a team is not easy, but it is crucial if you want to be promoted within your company or become the best engineer you can be. If you’re not willing to maintain your leadership skills, working hard to ensure that the project is completed on time and on budget while being constantly innovative (through team-building activities like competitions), then you will fail as an engineer. You need to be an effective leader for your team to succeed, both in and out of the workplace.
6. Time Management Skills
Being able to manage your own schedule is key in order to be efficient and get things done as well as possible. You need to think about how you spend each minute of your day when you can get the most done and how much time you spend working on projects instead of doing other tasks (here’s a list of ten things that stay on my desk for weeks). This way, you can maximize your work time and become a top engineer who works hard and always gets their projects done on time.
7. Computer Skills
You need to be able to work with engineering software in order to complete tasks as well as possible. These programs allow you to build digital models of machines, digitally draw schematics, or design digital images of parts that are supposed to look realistic or just functional. You need to work with these programs in order to create all kinds of different projects, and you can’t do that without computer skills.
8. Team Orientation
You need to be able to work as a team if you want to get things done properly. No one person is an island, and no one can do everything alone; that’s why you need at least a few other people with whom to work on projects. You need to be able to take leadership roles in order to mould your team into a cohesive unit and get things done.
9. Innovation Skills
You need to be able to adapt your ideas quickly, iterate on them, and think about what design changes might work better for your project before you implement them. If you can’t do this, then you’re not going to be considered an effective engineer who is all about offering innovative ideas within the company.
You need to be career-minded if you want to succeed as an engineer. If you can’t focus on the future and think about how to become a better engineer, how to get promoted, and how to make yourself invaluable at your company, then you won’t succeed. You need to be able to think about your end goal constantly in order for you to get what you want out of life.
If you have these ten key skills, then you have what it takes to succeed as an engineer in any field that you choose.
Of course, some things, such as motivation and dedication, can do more magic than certain skills, and, for example, not all engineers aspire to be a leader. Only you can decide what you can and want to do! 🙂