Top Engineering Skill Sets and Certifications

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Engineers are in high demand. The average unemployment for engineering professionals stands at a mere 2.9 percent, while for all occupations, that number is 3.7 percent. What’s more: There are three times as many open engineering jobs as there are candidates.

So what are some of the most important trends regarding skill sets and certifications for the future? 

Job trends

To answer this question, it’s helpful to look at what’s happening in the job market.

There are currently 53,249 job openings for quality engineers, 50,744 for electrical engineers, 49,138 for manufacturing engineers, 47,815 for mechanical engineers, and 38,686 job openings for project engineers. 

Additionally, the fastest-growing specialties include civil engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, and electrical engineering. 

Skill sets and certifications

As can be expected, CAD is one of the top in-demand skills, so if you’re proficient in AutoCAD®, Inventor®/Solidworks®, PTC Creo, NX®,or CATIA®, it’s a plus. Modeling — for example with ANSYS®— is also in demand. Candidates with good interpersonal and communication skills are highly sought-after. 

In addition, companies want engineers with project management skills — preferably with PM certification — and quality assurance skills — ideally with CQE certification.

While most employers don’t require a PE certification, some are seeking it for senior-and manager-level roles, as it demonstrates professionalism and a commitment to ongoing education. If you have security clearance, that’s a huge plus. 

Other general certifications that can benefit you are Lean and Six Sigma. More specialized certifications that employers like to see include SAE, LEEP AP, ASHRAE, ASE, CSEP, WFP, and DOA.

How to acquire additional skills

If you want to enhance your marketability, how do you go about acquiring additional skills and earning more certifications? 

First and foremost, it’s important to know that many professional associations offer their own certification programs — for example SAE and ASHRAE. APICS offers a variety of continuing education courses related to supply chain, purchasing, and industrial engineering. Moreover, according to Stephane Kasriel in his article “The future of work won’t be about college degrees, it will be about job skills” for CNBC News, it’s no longer about having a college degree. 

There’s an increasing number of nontraditional education options that allow you to acquire in-demand skill sets through project-based learning or e-learning. In some cases, your employer might even pay for your tuition if the new skill falls within the scope of your job. If not, it’s worth investing some money in order to make sure you can keep riding the ongoing wave of technological advancements. 

Ultimately, no matter how you acquire your skills, one thing’s for sure: Employers want you to be effective in your role. So whether you go back to college, complete an online certification course or learn on the job, all that really matters is that you can demonstrate how much value your specific skills combination can offer a company.

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