Engineering continuing education is important to advance in your career. What should engineers be learning and working on to put themselves at the front of the pack?
Important skills for engineers to work on in order to better secure their futures can be broken down into two main categories: technical and soft skills. Devoting the bulk of your time out of work to one of these categories over the other will give you an unbalanced result, and may put you at a disadvantage.
Soft Skills Matter
The “E” in STEM stands for engineering, and this group of people, as scientists, is often collectively referred to as left-brained. This means they are good at math, linear thinking, logic, and facts, but feelings and intuition? Not so much.
We don’t mean to stereotype any group of people, but knowing your weaknesses is a strength. Everyone can benefit from soft skills training, some more than others. What are the most important soft skills? A quick internet search yields everything from the “top 3” the “87 soft skills” to master.
How many is the right number, and which ones are most important for engineers?
Forbes narrows the list down to six, but the categories are broad. They include: interpersonal skills, creativity, communication, empathy, adaptability, and willingness to learn.
Interpersonal skills are the ones you were supposed to learn in the sandbox at kindergarten. Do unto others, etc. But everyone who works in an office knows someone there who didn’t master these skills. Don’t let that someone be you.
Mixing in a Little Right Brain
Of course, engineering takes a certain amount of creativity in order to come up with unique solutions to problems. It’s what makes the job more palatable to many people who would find the narrow focus of applying scientific principles too confining. But sometimes it’s hard to allow your mind to venture outside its comfortable confines. Practice makes perfect.
Communication is vital to any team project, and you likely know some team members who are bad enough at communicating that you sometimes wonder if they are doing it wrong on purpose. Soft skills teach methods of organizing your thoughts and expressing them in ways others can better understand.
Empathy is useful in all walks of life and traditionally lacking in scientific types who look past subtle cues like body language and notice only concrete evidence. But when dealing with customers, it may take some extra time and effort to decode exactly what they want. After all, maybe their soft skills aren’t great either!
It’s Natural Selection
Adaptability is essential to survival. It’s Darwin’s theory. Yet, it is almost natural to fight change. Whereas it is good to stay true to your goals and ideals, sometimes a project just isn’t working, and the team needs to try another way. When working with others, remember that there might be more than one right answer to a question.
Arguably, the most important soft skill is the willingness to learn. You need this one to get ahead in any industry. At its very core, it allows you to work with others and create new products and solutions. Beyond this, it’s necessary for professional development and to advance in your career.
Studies show that those with better soft skills achieve more in the work world than those with only technical skills.
Technical Skills Training for Engineers
Developing technical skills with continuing education is the other part of the equation that adds up to success for engineers.
In many states, engineering continuing education is required for licensure. But even when it isn’t, engineers should take advantage of these valuable learning opportunities. PDH Academy course materials are all online, so taking the classes and getting credit is easy and convenient. You can just scroll through the list of offerings and pick the classes that appeal to you. You can even preview the course material and the exam so you can be sure your choice is right for you.
Check out our PDH approved courses, and get started with your engineering continuing education today.