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The Most Important Soft Skills for Manufacturing Engineers

Monday, May 24, 2021 | Workforce

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Becoming an engineer can be a lucrative career, with manufacturing engineers making an average yearly salary of $91,010. The industry continues to grow, with an expected 140,000 jobs to be added to the engineering field over the next ten years. 

As you enter the job market for manufacturing engineering, focusing on workforce development is essential. It helps you be more successful and productive in the workplace, giving you the tools you need to grow your skills. 

This guide will go over the most important soft skills for manufacturing engineers that companies you apply to will look for in the interview process. 

What Are Soft and Hard Skills?

You can have the most perfect resume out there, complete with lots of job experience and education, but still not land the job of your dreams. If you have the qualifications, why aren't you getting hired?

Technical skills, or hard skills, are job-specific tasks that you need. Some hard skills for manufacturing engineering you'll need include:

  • Higher mathematics
  • Computer science
  • Statistics
  • Advanced physics
  • Nanotechnology

This technical knowledge is important and will help you be a successful engineer. However, soft skills are equally as important to technical detail and knowledge. They're just as critical as hard skills when carrying out your day-to-day tasks.

Unfortunately, soft skills often aren't taught in college or other educational institutions. Knowing what soft skills are important before you head out to do engineering work. All the technical skills in the world won't help you if you lack the proper skills to function in the workplace. 

Communication

Communication skills are a key component to success in any job. As a manufacturing engineer, you'll need to know how to communicate your ideas concisely and clearly to your fellow engineers. 

In addition to communication with other engineers, you'll have to work with people who are non-technical. Some projects require you to collaborate with team members who are from other departments. You'll need interpersonal skills that allow you to break down potentially complicated project ideas in simple terms.

Some examples of soft skills needed for communication are:

  • Writing skills
  • Active listening
  • Presentation and public speaking
  • Negotiation
  • Non-verbal and verbal communication 
  • Patience
  • Diplomacy
  • Problem-solving

All of these qualities are important when dealing with fellow coworkers and clients. Misunderstandings can happen, especially when talking about technical details, so having strong listening skills can help things not get lost in translation. 

Leadership

Leadership includes a lot of different skills. As a leader, you want to be someone that other people look to for mentorship, guidance, and structure. You'll also need to learn how to stay on top of task management and delegating.

As a manufacturing engineer, you'll need to take workplace challenges head-on. At the same time, you'll need to instill trust in those working below you. Even if you're not currently working in a leadership or management role, you can still hone your leadership skills so you're ready to take on a more senior role. 

One way to improve your leadership skills is by making well-thought-out decisions under pressure. Finding solutions for unexpected problems while not getting overwhelmed will help give you practice in that area. You'll be able to foster loyalty and trust in those around you. 

Collaboration 

As a manufacturing engineering manager, you'll need to collaborate with other teams on multiple engineering projects. You'll need to ensure everyone is on the same page so the project keeps completed successfully and efficiently. A successful engineer will work with lots of people with different backgrounds, sometimes with those they don't mesh well with. 

Collaboration is an important skill to have. Working as a team leads to better relationships with coworkers. Your results include greater innovation and collaboration as you work well together with others. 

Learning how to collaborate with others will help you figure out how to navigate tricky or uncomfortable workplace environments. It'll also give you the soft skills needed for learning how to deal with difficult personalities. 

While you collaborate with others, you'll apply some verbal communication skills and body language. This will help you prioritize problems and avoid any unpleasant situations. 

Project Management

Project managers are an essential component of a successful manufacturing engineering project. This area goes hand in hand with collaboration, but working well with others isn't the only important aspect of managing projects. 

Some soft skills included in project management include:

  • Risk management
  • Organization
  • Strategic planning
  • Critical thinking
  • Scheduling
  • Quality control 

Attention to detail and ensuring every step of the project is being handled is important as well. As the modern workplace evolves, it's important for you to possess a multitude of hard and soft skills so you can stay competitive in the workforce. 

Being Open to Feedback

Being able to accept both positive and negative feedback is vital as a manufacturing engineer. You also need to learn how to apply the feedback accordingly. In the interview process, you may be asked questions about how to respond to feedback so the interviewer can gauge if you can accept it in a suitable manner. 

Some soft skills that relate to being open to feedback include:

  • Resilence
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Respectfulness
  • Cooperation
  • Emotion management 
  • Humility 

No one wants to receive negative feedback but unfortunately, it's a reality. You need to maintain professionalism and tell yourself that whatever feedback you receive isn't a personal dig. 

You also need to know how to give feedback to others. You'll need to develop the skills on how to give detailed feedback in a positive way. Giving and receiving feedback is an important component in any type of project, so don't skip over it just because it makes you uncomfortable. 

Focus on Your Workforce Development 

Workforce development is essential to ensuring you're a well-rounded candidate for any job you apply for. Career development will help you go further in the manufacturing engineering field. Successful manufacturing engineers don't just focus on their hard skills but on improving their soft ones as well. 

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