6 Soft Skills That Make a Good Engineer Great

As an engineer, you’re familiar with the long list of hard skills needed to succeed in your role. From perfecting the art of programming to understanding the fundamentals of industrial data analytics, the technical competencies engineers can master are nearly endless. But what about soft skills?  

If you’re going to stand out among your peers in the broad field of engineering, you’ll need more than an impressive list of proficiencies. A great engineer also comes equipped with an equally noteworthy number of soft skills, six of which we’ll discuss in detail below.  

#1 Communication 

Engineers often work alongside a team, and adept communication skills can help these professionals more effectively convey technical information to a broad range of stakeholders, from clients to colleagues. 

However, communication is more than simply speaking to others. It also includes: 

  • Understanding your audience and concisely explaining your points in a way they’ll easily comprehend. 
  • Actively listening to others’ comments and questions so that you can formulate thoughtful responses.
  • Collaborating across multidisciplinary teams, such as during project meetings or design reviews. 

#2 Problem-Solving 

Whether you’re collecting data as a data analytics engineer or optimizing processes in a supply chain role, you’ll encounter challenges in your role that will test your problem-solving skills. Engineers with superior problem-solving capabilities will handle these issues gracefully, approaching them systematically and breaking them down into manageable chunks that allow for creative solutions.  

#3 Organization 

There are several reasons that the ability to organize plays a key role in what molds a good engineer into a great one. First, engineers who work with different types of coding languages need to be able to develop code that’s well-structured and organized for it to be maintainable and scalable. 

There are less technical aspects of organization that can also benefit an engineer, however, including the ability to set goals and create the timelines and plans needed to prioritize (and complete) them accordingly. 

#4 Leadership 

If you’re in a leadership role within your organization, it goes without saying—but we’ll say it—that the ability to inspire and motivate your team is fundamental. In addition to mastering the other soft skills on this list, effective leaders exude the following qualities when managing their teams: 

  • Empathy 
  • Confidence 
  • Delegation 
  • Decisiveness 

Moreover, leadership isn’t confined to formal titles. Informal leadership is a concept commonly demonstrated by engineers who graduate from our program. It acknowledges that any team member can effectively contribute expertise, foster collaboration and inspire others to achieve shared goals. Regardless of your specific role on a project, possessing informal leadership skills is crucial for driving innovation and successfully executing tasks. 

#5 Teamwork 

While it’s true that there’s an “i” in engineer, teamwork is paramount in engineering. A good engineer can accomplish their part of a task individually, but a great one collaborates seamlessly with their team to achieve collective goals. 

To improve your teamwork skills, consider the following when working with peers: 

  • Clarify each person’s role
    Define clear objectives, timelines and responsibilities for each member of your team to keep everyone on task and create a more cohesive and efficient environment. 
  • Lead by example
    You might have gained some of your current teamwork skills from observing your peers excel in this area. Be the example you want others to follow by being a reliable and supportive team member that everyone can count on. 
  • Build relationships
    Get to know the colleagues you work with often and take the time to form personal connections. Building rapport establishes trust and respect, boosts morale and enhances workflow as a team. 

#6 Time Management 

Engineers often juggle multiple projects simultaneously, each presenting its own—occasionally tight—deadline. With tip-top time management skills, prioritizing these tasks according to difficulty, due date and available resources becomes second nature and makes them easier to complete on time or ahead of schedule. 

From Soft Skills to Hard Skills, Give Your Career the Boost It Deserves at UW–Madison 

You can master a handful of soft skills over time with practice and dedication. However, if you’re seeking a program that will efficiently provide a unique set of both soft and hard skills to advance your current career in engineering, UW–Madison is here to help. As one of the top 20 graduate engineering programs according to U.S. News, our programs offer a rigorous and relevant curriculum tailored to working professionals and geared toward advancing your expertise and fostering career growth. 

You can choose from several entirely online graduate programs: 

But with a wide range of universities to choose from, what sets UW–Madison apart? We offer several benefits to our online learners, including: 

  • Smaller class sizes. 
  • The flexibility to work when and where you want. 
  • A distinguished and internationally renowned faculty. 
  • Frequent start dates. 
  • Enhanced career opportunities upon graduation. 

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and we’ll get back to you with answers as soon as possible. After you’ve determined which program is right for you, take the first step and apply today!