The Two Most Important Qualities Every Mid-Career Engineer Needs To Get Ahead

The Two Most Important Qualities Every Mid-Career Engineer Needs To Get Ahead

There are two standout qualities that every mid-career engineer needs. Here’s how to develop both so you can get ahead and remain competitive throughout your career.

By the time mechanical engineers reach the mid-point of their career, they need to possess certain qualities that demonstrate their professional competencies as a skilled engineer.

Most employers expect mid-career engineers to be:

  • Knowledgeable about their job
  • Cooperative, employees who work well with their colleagues and superiors
  • Self-sufficient, and can effectively problem-solve with minimal outside input or oversight
  • Collaboration-oriented, as well as able to effectively communicate on both technical and non-technical aspects of their jobs

That’s not an exhaustive list—depending on what you do, there may be other expectations. However, there are two standout qualities that every mid-career engineer needs: technical proficiency and a commitment to lifelong learning.

Here’s how to develop both so you can get ahead and remain competitive throughout your career.

Technical Proficiency: Upskilling Options for Engineers

The 2020 WEF Future of Jobs Report highlighted that 50% of the core skills required to perform a job will have shifted by 2024—meaning that today’s engineers may lack almost half the skills they need to do their jobs within the next few years.

It’s never too late to upskill, though, with multiple avenues for mid-career professionals to potentially pursue.


Finding and staying connected with a mentor throughout your career can help you build new skills and refine existing ones. What’s more, a later-career engineer can help you learn how to apply your current skills to the new roles and responsibilities you have at this stage.

Continuing education

Whether you’re taking classes through a university or through a professional organization like ASME, continuing education helps you build technical proficiencies in areas where you have a skill gap—or where there might be one in the future.

Take, for example, additive manufacturing (AM). While AM has been around for a while, new materials, applications, and technologies are requiring engineers to retool their skills. Taking a self-study course on additive manufacturing materials can help you stay proficient in the latest AM techniques.

Getting involved in the industry

Mechanical engineering is a dynamic industry and there are countless opportunities to get involved in meaningful ways, especially if you belong to a mechanical engineering professional organization like ASME. They can help you with:

  • Developing skills in emerging disciplines
  • Connecting and building professional relationships with peers
  • Finding events or conferences relevant to your specialization

Getting involved enriches your professional life, and it can deeply enrich your technical proficiencies. Why? It gives you access to new ideas and conversations, as well as insight from colleagues!

If you are interested in becoming an instructor with ASME Learning and Development, please click here to complete an initial inquiry form. We will respond to your submission with next steps.

Lifelong Learning for Engineers: Education that Evolves

Continuing education and lifelong learning are a priority among workers in every industry.

As an engineer, you’ll always be learning—that just comes with the demands of the job. But prioritizing learning in your career requires more intentionality. The Center for Creative Leadership provides a useful model for how to structure learning in your career:

  • 70% of learning through on-the-job experience
  • 20% through networking, mentoring, professional organizations, and peer relationships
  • 10% through structured learning like professional development courses and training

As you progress through your engineering career, it’s important not just to keep learning, but to keep up with your professional development hours (PHDs) if you’re a licensed professional engineer.

Your mid-career may also be a period in which you decide that you’re ready for a change. Perhaps you feel like you’ve plateaued in your current position, or that you’re ready to explore another discipline of engineering. No matter why you’re looking to change, being a skilled learner will help make the transition to your next opportunity easier.

Take your technical proficiency and continuing education further with ASME

Mid-career engineers have a wide range of options for exploring and growing their careers. ASME is here to support them as they take the next steps. Learn more about learning and development opportunities at ASME today.


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