Upskilling in engineering: ways to do it right

By: | June 7th, 2021

Image by Borko Manigoda from Pixabay

If you’re an engineer who is on the search for a new employer, or want to make yourself a more valuable employee to your company, upskilling is a crucial development for you. Upskilling is an umbrella word for learning new skills and improving in key areas that are necessary to move up the career ladder in the engineering fields.

While the pandemic led to a lot of layoffs, executives at companies lamented a workforce talent shortage even prior to the pandemic. While there are several engineering positions that don’t require onsite inspections, such as software engineering, other fields do require a physical presence, and pandemic layoffs affected this. As onsite engineering positions become open again, it creates an opportunity for new workers in the field.

In this article we’ll go over some of the best ways you can upskill your engineering resume.

Take a Skills Assessment

If you’re not sure where to focus on upskilling your engineering career, you can use a skills assessment test. Online tools can give you a self-assessment in which you can figure out what critical skills you need to improve, or where you can brush up on things that employers are looking for in candidates.

Obtaining a Professional Engineering (PE) license is also a worthy consideration. While it’s not always a requirement in engineering positions, having one certainly shows your motivation and ability to meet challenges. It can be a fairly difficult exam, so PE review prep courses will also contribute to improving your skills.

This means you’ll need to study and review to pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, otherwise known as the PE exam. It’s put on by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) and requires you to demonstrate competence in a variety of skills, such as:

  • Analytical reasoning
  • Quantitative deduction
  • Discipline-specific concepts

The PE course is held twice annually with the purpose of professional licensure. It’s a challenging test and something you must work hard to prepare for.

What are the popular engineering skills in 2021?

Engineering skills are dependent on the field and career trajectory, but overall there are key areas in a candidate that companies prefer to see. Aside from math and technology skills, you should also be familiar with the latest CAD software.

Networking is also important as it helps you figure out which companies are hiring and what they’re looking for in candidates, so you should be aware of the benefits of networking and ways to network more effectively.

Being familiar with several brands of software is recommended, but also having specialized skills in using the more common ones.Some of the most popular CAD systems that employers want in 2021 include:

  • SolidWorks
  • Inventor
  • Revit
  • AutoCAD
  • Civil 3D
  • MicroStation
  • Creo
  • Siemens NX

Another common skill required in several engineering fields is the ability to perform structural analysis. This shows an engineer’s ability to determine strains on a design, such as a software model, and determine whether the model would be able to hold up to strains in the physical world.

Structural analysis skills show employers that you’re capable of making necessary calculations to ensure that proposed designs are actually safe and functional.

Develop more hands-on experience

Employers frequently come across engineering candidates who are proficient in CAD software, but have little experience in bringing those creations into physical reality. Hands-on experience is necessary because while software can be used for complex designs, it’s important to know what is realistically achievable on budget and time constraints.

There are several ways for engineers to gain valuable hands-on experience:

  • Enrolling in co-ops
  • Volunteering for extracurricular projects
  • Taking part in design competitions


Upskilling in engineering will keep your skills honed, current with the latest trends, and also make your resume more attractive to potential employers. In a competitive engineering field this is certainly to your best benefit, and it will also serve you in an upwards career trajectory as even employed engineers need to always be learning new things.


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