5 Skills Every Engineer Needs
As an engineer, you probably find the need to keep sharpening your skills never stops, even with a respectable number of working years under your belt. Engineering, after all, is a field for lifelong learners.
Many organisations in the UK are struggling to find engineers with the right mix of soft and technical skills they need, so if you’re ticking all of the boxes you can dramatically increase your chances of securing a fantastic engineering job.
Rapid changes in technology and increasing expectations for engineers to work across more business areas are adding new pressures to their roles, so it’s essential you keep developing your professional abilities in these constantly evolving environments.
We’ve compiled the top skills for engineers that regularly appear on employers’ “must-have” lists when they’re looking for candidates.
1. Data Modelling
This skill helps engineers identify useful patterns and correlations between data. An engineer with data modelling skills will understand how to identify errors in data, make adjustments, and apply algorithms. These skills can help drive projects ranging from the development of new physical products and structures, to predicting their future performance.
2. Problem-Solving and Analytical Thinking
Problem-solving and analytical thinking are the bedrock of engineering. The ability to examine issues laterally, to identify problems and solutions, is invaluable in any professional environment. Knowing how to correctly perform a root cause analysis is key to this ability.
The problems engineers often deal with are multi-faceted with no obvious linear solution. An analytical mind will first locate the problem before finding ways to solve it. There might be multiple problems and solutions at hand for any given situation, so you must be able to distinguish between the root cause and other causal factors.
How many possible data sources must you consider and narrow down to work out what is relevant to the task at hand? How much data is needed to make a sensible model for what you’re working on – and how complex or simple can that model be? Knowing how to answer these questions is crucial for any engineer (make sure your prepped for an interview with answers to these questions!).
3. Computer Science Basics
Understanding computer science fundamentals and programming is no longer a domain exclusive to IT graduates. Various engineering fields are increasingly overlapping with emerging digital technologies, so a familiarity with data structures, algorithms, and other principles of computer science is particularly important.
Non-computing engineers can add to their cachet by engaging with a range of online resources aimed at introducing people outside of computer science to programming. Many of these learning resources contain projects that focus on solving specific problems, so they’re a good way to get started in computer science.
As an engineer, your ability to communicate complex technical information to a non-expert audience across various business areas is among the most essential soft skills you can have. All projects, after all, are comprised of different people working together. Knowing how to write and speak effectively to laypeople, as well as listen to others and take on feedback, doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But just like a technical competency, communication is a skill that can be cultivated over time.
Technical and communication skills might make you a good engineer, but leadership ability is the deciding factor in your career progression.
Organisations prefer someone they can invest in long-term and who will play a part in driving growth for the business. And at some point, an engineer with solid technical skills will likely have to manage some individuals, a whole team, project or an entire organisation.
As with communication, leadership skill development for engineers is possible over time, even if you don’t feel like you’re a natural leader. A wealth of resources is available to help you hone this crucial soft skill. Developing your leadership abilities might also make you enjoy the interpersonal aspects of your work that extra little bit more.
The best engineers possess a balanced mix of technical abilities and soft skills to help organisations navigate ever-evolving challenges within their projects. The most successful candidates in the current engineering job market are those who strive for continuous improvement so they can be ready for whatever their work throws at them.
Curiosity and a self-directed approach to your learning and development will ensure you’re always building on these sought-after skills. If you’re looking for opportunities to add to your skillset in your current role and in your personal time, you’ll have a better chance of standing out.
Are you looking for a new professional challenge or need more advice on how to land your next role? Get in touch with our UK engineering recruitment specialists to start your next career chapter.