Top Skills for Engineers Looking for Jobs

Mark Koschmeder
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According to a 2013 data report compiled by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, seven of the top 10 highest paying jobs are in the engineering field. However, you need the right job skills to land one of these high-paying jobs. The criteria that are required for most engineering degrees focus more on theoretical studies, so many college-educated engineers don't have the job skills that employers need. This presents a problem if you're looking for engineering jobs. Before you start applying for positions, you need to know what skills are needed to get the job done right.

Employers need engineers with practical job skills—especially in the manufacturing industry. Today's factory isn't the same factory that your grandfather worked at. Over the past decade, advances in technology have drastically changed the day-to-day operations of factories. Because of this, hundreds of high-paid, highly skilled jobs are going unfilled. While most employers agree that they need engineers with technical skills, the specific job skills needed are different in every field. For example, a mechanical engineer should know how to troubleshoot and assemble engines, exhaust systems, and brake systems. However, a computer engineer doesn't need those types of job skills. Instead, a computer engineer should know how to solder tiny parts, splice wires, and use a variety of hand tools.

In addition to practical skills, employers are noticing that the engineers they have hired are lacking soft skills. According to a survey completed by Millennial Branding, soft skills topped the list of must-haves for employers, and these skills play an increasingly large role in differentiating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals when it comes to employment and job advancement. According to Amanda Pollack, the Human Resources Director at the civil engineering firm George, Miles & Buhr, a big part of what engineers do is write reports and specifications for plans. However, writing isn't something that engineers are taught. While it may not seem like writing skills are as important as knowing how to solder a chip onto a motherboard, employers have found that a lack of soft skills can slow productivity, which has a direct effect on the company's bottom line. Some of the soft skills that employers think engineers are lacking include:

  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Listening
  • Presentation
  • Creative thinking
  • Writing

Engineers also need good organizational skills in order to have a successful career. You have to be able to manage your time wisely and determine which tasks are the most important. Organizational skills are also an important part of resource planning.

There are engineering jobs available in multiple industries. Whether you're trying to advance your career or you're a new engineering graduate, all you need is the right job skills to land the job you want.

(Photo courtesy of hin255 /


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