Are You a Competent Engineer?

September/October 2015

Are You a Competent Engineer?

New competency model can help you find out.

The American Association of Engineering Societies and the Department of Labor released an engineering competency model in July that was designed to provide a universal professional development tool for employers.

In 2013, NSPE led the way to the development of this model with the introduction of the first edition of the Engineering Body of Knowledge, which provides a common ground for developing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to practice as a professional engineer across engineering disciplines. NSPE is a member of AAES.

The competency model consists of five tiers outlining knowledge, skills, and abilities that may affect a major part of an engineer’s job and connect with job performance. Industry leaders, employers, educators, human resource professionals, and practicing engineers can use the model to improve training, development, and experience.

Tier 1—Personal Effectiveness Competencies
These competencies are personal attributes, such as being able to work effectively with others from diverse backgrounds, displaying strong moral principles and work ethic, and the capability to adapt to new and changing requirements. These are soft skills that can be developed within a person’s home, community, and workplace.

Tier 2—Academic Competencies
This tier relates to competencies that are learned in an educational setting and apply to all industries and occupations. Competencies include reading comprehension, science and math skills, critical thinking, and communication skills.

Tier 3—Workplace Competencies
Workplace competencies address interpersonal and self-management styles. These competencies involve the ability to work on a team, effectively addressing client and stakeholder needs, efficiently managing projects, innovative thinking, and basic business knowledge.

Tier 4—Industry-Wide Competencies
This tier covers the knowledge, skills, and abilities that engineers can benefit from, regardless of the sector. These competencies include understanding engineering fundamentals and their effect on society; design; professional ethics; and quality control and quality assurance.

Tier 5—Industry-Sector Competencies
This tier covers competencies that are specific to various sectors and established by industry leaders.

Access the Engineering Competency Model at