10 Characteristics of a Successful Engineer

There are many paths you can take as an engineer. Those paths can be quite different depending on the discipline you pursue, the type of role you aspire to have, and the industry you work in. That said, there are common characteristics that are present in all successful engineers. Here are 12 of the most important.

1. Insatiable Curiosity

Engineers want to know how things work. They also want to make things better, more efficient, and more effective. They are the driving force behind innovations in a vast range of industries, but everything starts with that curiosity of figuring out how and why.

2. Continuously Seeks to Improve

In most fields of engineering, best practices, technologies, and the requirements of customers change fast. As a result, engineers need to be adaptable, but it is not enough to be open to change. You also need to constantly work to improve and enhance your skillset through ongoing professional development. This can be through formal training and development programmes, but it doesn’t have to be. It is also important that you explore areas of engineering that interest you personally.

3. Creativity and Innovation

Many engineering problems and projects require a high degree of creativity and innovation. The work we are involved in here at SL Controls is a good example.

We operate at the cutting edge of Industry 4.0 technologies, delivering systems integration and automation solutions for our clients in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and technologies industries. While we use technologies that are readily available, our solutions are almost always unique because of the types of projects we undertake. As a result, they require innovative thinking and creativity to develop.

4. Problem Solving

You know how the saying goes: if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Engineers regularly encounter problems that must be overcome and solved. Successful engineers have good problem-solving skills that help them in these situations.

5. Good Soft Skills Including Communication & Leadership

Improving your technical skills is important, but don’t forget soft skills as they are important too. This includes communication skills, presentation skills, leadership skills, and more. Successful engineers have these skills and continuously work to improve them.

Tips for Improving soft skills


6. Team Player

Most engineering projects, particularly in our industry at SL Controls, involve working in teams. Therefore, being a good team player is an essential component of being a successful engineer.

7. Mathematical and Analytical Abilities Plus Logical Thinking

This point is probably the most obvious engineering characteristic on this list, but it is still worth highlighting. Being a good engineer means being a logical thinker and having excellent analytical and mathematical abilities.

8. Attention to Detail

In engineering, beauty is often found in the details. It is where value is added to projects, errors are discovered before they become a problem, and the best innovations are found. It’s not surprising, then, that successful engineers pay attention to the details.

9. Embrace Change

Nothing stands still in engineering, so it’s important to be open to change. Just because something has been done a particular way for years doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Successful engineers embrace new technologies, processes, and ways of thinking.

10. Optimistic

Engineers face challenges – it’s part and parcel of the job. Those challenges could be a complex problem that appears to be completely resistant to a solution, or an issue with a client that is difficult to fix. Remaining optimistic in the face of these challenges helps considerably.

Ongoing Improvement

The characteristics on this list are not a case of you either have them, or you don’t. Instead, you can work at them all, improving your capabilities while at the same time becoming a better, more successful, and more satisfied engineer.