Top 3 Engineering Project Management Skills

By Kirsten McNeice
Talent and Employer Brand Manager
Oct 16 2021 read

In the engineering field, evaluations are usually done on technical skills, not other skills such as project or people management. In today's competitive business landscape, engineering project management is becoming a necessity for engineers to take their careers to the next level. Engineers who invest in perfecting their project management skills often find they're given more responsibilities.

Project management is directing a team to accomplish milestones and follow performance expectations within a set time frame. For engineers, project management could include purchasing resources needed, cost management and scheduling. Done effectively, engineering project management ensures that a project is completed on time and within budget. 

What Skills Does an Engineering Project Manager Need?

Engineering is a complex and ever-evolving industry, and new functional aspects are continuously being added to the process. As artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) become more prevalent in the engineering process, project management skills will become more significant in an engineer's role. 

We spoke with the senior management team at CCS Automations, an Orlando-based industrial automation company that helps businesses install and maintain systems they need to operate timely and efficiently. We wanted their expert opinions on what skills will be in demand for engineers in the upcoming year. As a a team of engineers that handle client-facing initiatives, CCS had a lot of great information to share. 

Can an Engineer Become a Project Manager?

An engineer can absolutely become a project manager. If you're looking to attain a managerial position, you'll need to obtain your Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification to formalize the strategies you're already familiar with as an engineer. Skilled project managers are in high demand, so set yourself apart by improving the following core skills:


Leadership encompasses a broad swath of associated capabilities that are required for the project management process. Fundamentally, every project involves a team. Through the project, the team dynamics fluctuate to meet the demands of the goals set in the initial scope of work and the associated variations in the scope that naturally occur.

A project manager is responsible for defining scope, establishing tasks and goals and assigning responsibility based on team member capabilities, plus getting buy-in from all parties. Beyond the traditional operational management functions, leadership requires the ability to motivate, build trust, handle conflict and make decisions on all issues that arise, including routine administrative/operational issues, emergency issues and strategic issues.


Organization skills are a key skill set and essential for engineering projects. Project managers are responsible for organizing all aspects of the project and presenting the organizational plan in a structured manner that can be assimilated by all parties with responsibilities towards the project completion. Without a structured organizational plan driven by the project manager, an engineering project would be doomed from the start.

As with leadership, the key component to demonstrating this organizational skill is to get buy-in from all participants, which allows the project management process to be well-defined and move fluidly in a safe, productive and predictable manner. 


Communication is probably the most crucial skillset an engineering project manager should have to be successful. For engineering projects, communication skills start with a solid foundational knowledge of the given technical field. Without this knowledge base, a project manager in an engineering environment cannot succeed.

In an engineering environment, communication is bi-directional, requiring the project manager to provide information and instruction outward while eliciting feedback from all participants. Effective communication involves a large number of different types of project participants, each with a different set of requirements related to project status at any given time. These include but are not limited to: 

  1. Team Members (Technical, Administrative)
  2. In-house Company Management 
  3. Suppliers
  4. Contractors
  5. Customer Technical Contacts
  6. Customer Administrative and Management Contacts

To support the needs of these participants effectively, the project manager must communicate the technical and process elements of the project in both technical and non-technical terms. This is often the difference between success or failure and profit or loss for any engineering project.


Project Management vs. Engineering Management

Engineering managers are in charge of people, while project managers oversee activities and tasks. For example, an engineering manager is in charge of supervising the team tasked with determining the structural integrity of a new apartment building. A project manager on the same project makes sure all of the tasks are done on schedule and within budget.



READ NEXT: How one engineering firm gained priceless visibility with Accelo


Combine a strong project management skillset with powerful project management software to avoid the administrative chaos that plagues engineering teams. Even the best project managers need a platform to reduce the mundane tasks that can take up hours. The role of project management is often correlated with manual work, but this doesn't have to be the case. The engineering industry is constantly changing, but engineers can better adapt by becoming better project managers and investing in an automation platform they know will make their jobs easier. 

Project managers are most effective when they have the right tools. See how Accelo could support your engineering team. Try the platform for free or schedule a demo.

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