Exceptionally competent, creative yet logically practical, and incredibly influential on everyone’s daily lives, engineers are often the objects of envy from other professionals who have less impact on the world and feel less effective at their jobs. In fact, at this very moment, you might be wondering how you can pivot your career into the engineering field.

The truth is that anyone can be an engineer — but great engineers are a rare breed. There are a few inherent traits that make some engineers rise above the rest. You might be ideal for an engineering career if you are:

6 qualities that make excellent engineers

1. Naturally Curious

Engineers must be able to observe a process, structure, machine, or system and determine how it works and how they can improve upon it. Curiosity is a beneficial quality in nearly every industry because it indicates interest and drives creativity. However, engineers must have the energy and determination to research and understand problems and their solutions, so curiosity is imperative in this field.

Kids who grew up asking, “Why?” are good candidates for engineering programs — but those who excel at engineering are more often those who pursue “Why?” to “Oh, that’s why.” If your curiosity is so strong that you can’t rest until you understand, you could be an excellent engineer.

2. Self-Organized

Engineering teams usually have managers tasked with keeping workers on course, but most engineers still must be able to manage their own projects to some degree. Often, engineering projects last months or years, and ideas or discoveries made long ago must be readily available for application. Even better, by displaying project management skills, you are more likely to obtain raises and promotions.

Fortunately, self-organization is one of the few top engineering qualities that can be improved upon with concerted effort. By enrolling in an engineering degree online, you can practice your self-motivation and self-organization while bolstering your engineering credentials for better positions in your career.

3. Detail Oriented

To succeed in business, it helps to be a big-picture person: to be able to steer the entire ship toward a broad, common objective, such as enhanced profits or high visibility. To succeed in engineering, you should be the exact opposite. Being able to parse details and organize them to create an effective machine — or process, system, structure — is part of an engineer’s daily responsibilities. Such attention to detail allows engineers to analyze intricate problems and produce high-quality work. If you struggle with minutia, it’s likely that engineering isn’t for you.

4. Analytical

There is a world of difference between something working and something working well. Engineers are typically tasked with finding the most efficient solution to a problem, which requires being able to analyze the issue as well as all possible answers to identify the best course of action.

Analytical ability comes in many shapes and forms; even English majors must be analytical in some sense. However, engineers’ analytical minds are constantly running, revising plans to ensure the best possible outcomes. If you can logically pick problems apart and discover optimal solutions, you are an excellent engineering candidate.

5. Math Savvy


It may be harsh, but if you aren’t good at math, you won’t make a good engineer. In every engineering discipline, from computer engineering to petroleum engineering, you will work with numbers and equations. At its very core, engineering is the application of theoretical mathematics to the physical world to solve everyday problems.

Usually, engineering programs are rigorous in mathematical studies, putting students through advanced calculus, statistics, trigonometry, and geometry. Well before you enroll in an engineering program, you should be confident in your math skills and comfortable writing and using formulas to solve problems.

6. Confident in Communication

While engineers may seem to be asocial, numbers-focused professionals, they are far from hermits. Engineers almost always work in teams, which means communication between team members occurs on a regular basis. Communication failures within engineering result in poor-quality machines, inefficient systems, and worse — so your ability to express thoughts and opinions must be finely honed.

As with project management skills, engineers who prove themselves adept at communication often excel in management positions. Thus, if you believe your ability to communicate is above and beyond the average engineer’s, you should consider advanced education to prepare you for your accelerated career in engineering.


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