Business Skills That Can Be Beneficial For Engineers

Business Skills

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for skilled engineering professionals is on the rise, with almost 140,000 new engineering jobs expected to hit the career market in the next few years. And as the engineering industry continues to evolve with new engineers entering the field, employers are looking for engineers with a specific set of skills to fill these roles.

To stay competitive in a job market that is subject to constant change and increasing demand, both aspiring and current engineers need to develop and display a set of skills that is strong and diverse.

Different engineering disciplines will require distinct sets of technical and job-specific skills, but no matter the engineering discipline, there are various soft skills, qualities, and competencies that all engineers can benefit from developing.

The most successful engineers in the industry today don’t just have a strong highly technical expertise and knowledge; they can also demonstrate a wide range of soft skills, allowing them to advance their careers further and stay competitive in an evolving industry.

Business Skills That Can Be Beneficial For Engineers

Business Skills That Can Be Beneficial For Engineers

Basic business skills can be hugely beneficial for engineers, particularly professionals who are interested in moving up the career ladder into an engineering management role.

1. Overlaps in Engineering and Business

Like several other professions, there is much more that goes into building a successful career in engineering than just technical knowledge. Engineers also need to consider the business side of this role, particularly as they advance to more senior positions where they will gain more responsibilities such as managing projects, budgets, and teams.

For engineers who want to move up the career ladder and reach more senior positions, it’s important for them to develop a strong set of business skills alongside the technical engineering skills that they possess. It is not uncommon for more senior engineering roles to require fewer technical skills and more business skills.

You can learn more and prepare yourself for these roles with an online masters degree in engineering management from uOttawa University.

Some of the main skills that engineers need to develop in order to land and be successful in project management and other advanced roles in this industry include:

2. Management Skills

Management Skills

Many engineering graduates will start their careers with big plans to move up the ladder in a certain organization or over the course of their career as a whole.

If you are an engineer and want to eventually work in a role where you are responsible for managing and leading projects, teams, and more, you will need to develop strong managerial skills including leadership skills and organizational skills.

Being a successful manager also requires you to be innovative and possess a strong ability to motivate and influence your teams along with implementing strategies and delegating work effectively. Moving up the ranks in an engineering career will usually involve taking on some management responsibilities.

For engineers, gaining experience and building their skills usually leads to them being trusted to manage or assist with managing various aspects of the business. Being able to lead by example, motivate and inspire others, and possessing other necessary skills such as good communication skills is essential for engineers who want to successfully move forwards in their careers.

3. Communication

Engineers need to have good communication skills right from the start, whether or not they decide to get into the business and management side of things or continue to work in an engineering-centered role.

Since engineers are tasked with doing work that can often be very technical, it’s not unusual for them to need to be able to explain very complex ideas and strategies in layman’s terms to make it easier for those with no engineering knowledge or experience to understand.

As an engineer, the ability to present complex ideas in a simple and well-articulated manner is critical to not only your success as an engineer but also the success of the project you are working on and in some cases, the business as a whole.

Along with a strong ability to communicate their ideas, engineers also need to develop excellent listening skills. This is vital when working in an engineering role as engineers will often have very detailed and specific instructions that they will need to follow when working on a project, where even the smallest of mistakes could lead to serious future issues.

For engineers looking to move up into management and leadership roles, communication and listening skills become even more important as they become responsible for leading and overseeing teams and projects.

4. Creativity

Creativity

The daily job of an engineer will often be centered around solving a variety of often complex problems. It can be easy for engineers to sometimes find themselves getting lost in the smaller details of these problems rather than seeing the bigger picture and using creative-thinking skills to come up with solutions.

Despite being a STEM career, engineering does require a lot of creativity and many company executives agree that when it comes to sought-after skills, creative thinking and creativity can have some huge benefits for companies, including increased revenue and a larger market share.

But in spite of this, research shows that over half of business leaders would not say that their company is creative. In the job market, engineers who are in touch with their creative sides tend to demonstrate some of the most sought-after skills and qualities including the ability to think outside of the box, being able to quickly come up with creative and innovative ideas, a strong vision for design, and the confidence to come up with and suggest new or alternative solutions to problems.

Engineering is a STEM career that allows more freedom than others when it comes to being innovative, thinking outside of the box, and bringing your own ideas to the table, with some disciplines being more creative than others.

As an engineer, you may be spending your time working on technologies and products that are brand new and have never been used before, providing endless opportunities for you to come up with new ideas and put your own creative stamp on your work.

5. Attention to Detail

As technology continues to advance, it is having a huge impact on almost every industry around the world. Because of this, engineers who have strong attention to detail and observation skills, with the ability to spot new and emerging opportunities quickly, tend to be those who enjoy the most success in their careers.

These days, the business environments that we work in around the world are becoming increasingly complex, and it’s become impossible for some companies to approach issues in the same way that they did in the past and still be able to succeed. Often, engineers are the professionals that are turned to for problem-solving and coming up with new, alternative ideas for solving problems including creating technologies and equipment that can be used to solve or even avoid a range of problems.

Engineers with a strong attention to detail may be able to spot problems before they become huge, which gives them an advantage in this career path. As an engineer, you may often find yourself working on solutions to problems that people weren’t even aware they had.

6. Financial Skills

Financial Skills

In the engineering industry, it’s important to have strong math skills – but a basic grasp of financial accounting can also be very beneficial. Financial accounting skills give engineers the ability to better measure the impact that the work they do is having in terms of business revenue, along with making it easier to control the cost of the projects that they are working on and leading with more appreciation and understanding of the organization’s overall budget.

This is especially true for engineering managers, who may need to be in regular communication with the financial team in the business to track expenses and make sure that all projects are within the set budget.

For engineers, a strong knowledge of the financial side of the business paired with their engineering knowledge and ability to solve problems will stand them in good stead for their career and make it easier to communicate with financial professionals when working on or leading projects. Since most engineers are already highly skilled with math and numbers, improving their financial accounting skills is often not a difficult task.

7. Negotiation

Engineers will often be required to work with several different teams and departments within the business in order to achieve the overall business goals. The more people that are involved in the process of making decisions for the company, the more likely it is that negotiation is going to be necessary. For engineers, negotiation is a valuable business skill to develop.

Not only will it make liaising with other departments and professionals within the business easier, but it will also help engineers get better results when it comes to selling their ideas and getting approval.

To negotiate successfully, engineers need to be able to build trust among key decision makers, have an understanding and appreciation of each stakeholder’s goals, know how to secure the best deal on behalf of the organization, and have good people skills to help them understand and navigate the various emotions that can often arise during negotiations.

8. Networking

Networking

Networking might be something that comes to mind when you think of business professionals or business owners, but it is a habit that can also be very beneficial for engineers to practice on a regular basis too.

Attending engineering networking events can be a very beneficial step for your career as an engineer, allowing you to meet and get to know other people working in this industry, learn from them, and be the first to know about any new opportunities that might be a good fit for you.

Whether you are seeking career development or want to start your own engineering business, networking is a very important business skill that can help you boost your professional career in a range of different ways. While networking may not be something that comes naturally to everyone, a bit of practice is often all that is needed to get comfortable with it and start networking like a pro.

Making connections with other professionals in the engineering industry and business professionals that work with engineers can hold a lot of power and is often one of the top ways that engineers are able to expand their technical knowledge, build their skills, and find new and exciting opportunities.

9. Ethics

Being highly ethical is another business-like quality that is required of all modern engineers. Today, we are in an era where we rely more heavily than ever before on artificial intelligence, which has led to more ethical questions that are increasingly complex.

No matter the discipline, engineers are tasked with designing, building, and developing a range of products that will often have a direct impact on society. It is important that every engineer is able to approach any problem that they need to solve in an ethical manner, to make sure that they always do what is best for the end-user.

10. Big Picture Thinking

The ability to see the bigger picture is often something that is talked about a lot in business, but this can also help engineers take their career to the next level too. When you have a background in engineering, it’s not difficult to become increasingly focused on the project or task at hand, rather than seeing it as a whole.

However, for engineers to succeed, especially those who want to move up into management or leadership positions in engineering, it’s important to be able to see the bigger picture too.

Big picture thinking allows engineers to look beyond the specific issues that they are dealing with right now and provides them with the ability to see how the decisions that they make or the solutions that they come up with will impact the project or the company as a whole over time.

Conclusion

While business and engineering might not be too career paths that appear to fit together at first, engineers can benefit from developing a range of business skills. Thus, this is all that you should know about the business skills that can be beneficial for engineers.

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