So I finished my degree – Am I a professional engineer now?

Professional Engineer

Photo credit – Luftphilia, CC

Fresh off the graduation production line, feeling satisfaction that you have made some progress in your life and portraying a very professional version of yourself (with the fancy wizard gown and all) does not automatically quality you as a professional engineer. It really depends on which country you study in and where you decide to work. Firstly, lets clarify what is actually meant by the term professional engineer.

The concept of a professional engineer has come to be an abstract term in our times with many industries now using the term ‘professional’ to describe those working within their fields. Sales people, marketing, finance & other creative positions are now considered professional given that they work professional hours and their office environment is high on the scale of fancy. The term professional as it applies to engineering has always meant acting in accordance with a code of ethics. “The motive of making money is subordinated to serving the client in a manner not inconsistent with the public good.” (Professional Ethics: the consultant professions and their code, C. Knight, 1969, p. 15.). “There are some things that an engineer cannot do to make money.” (Rob Lawler: Engineering and society – September 2013) The implication here is that a professional (whether a doctor, engineer, accountant or lawyer) has a duty to society and cannot choose selfishness (profit or otherwise) when safety and the wellbeing (including financial wellbeing) of this society could be compromised.

In practical terms this title of professional is defined by a countries legal system. As you will notice in the list below, some countries (such as Australia) allow an engineering degree as the minimum requirement for working as a professional. Other countries like Canada require additional skills and licensing.

Engineering Accreditation In Australia

Professional accreditation in Australia is provided by Engineers Australia. Any Bachelor of Engineering degree that is accredited by Engineers Australia will automatically provide you with the professional accreditation to begin working. As a student you must check that the course you are enrolling into is accredited before you begin.

Engineers Australia also offers an additional qualification called Chartered Engineering Status (CPEng). It is similar in equivalency to the UK’s (P.E) qualificaiton.

Engineering Accreditation In Europe

All of continental Europe is governed by the European Federation of National Engineering Associations. The federation awards the ‘Eur Ing’ accreditation, recognised in over 30 European countries. The pre-requisites for obtaining accreditation in Europe is an Engineering Degree and experience working in industry.

Engineering Accreditation In India

In India, a Bachelor of Engineering graduate is considered to be a Consulting Engineer and is able to work as an engineer. Engineers may be eligible for Chartered Engineering status. Chartered Engineering status in India is considered to be a prestigious accolade and these engineers are generally awarded higher salaries. Accreditation is provided by the All India Council for Technical Education.

Engineering Accreditation In United Kingdom

An engineer who has professional accreditation in the UK is known as a Chartered Engineer. It is awarded by the United Kingdom Engineering Council and represents the same level of qualification as a professionally accredited engineer in the USA. To obtain Chartered status, a Bachelor of Engineering degree must be completed with honours and a Masters of Engineering also obtained. The final step is to become a member of a licensed professional engineering institution.

Engineering Accreditation In United States of America

In the USA, two separate examinations must be passed for engineering graduates to gain professional accreditation. The first step is to obtain your Bachelor of Engineering degree, then pass a Fundamentals of Engineering exam. Then, each graduate must complete up to five years of relevant work experience under a licensed engineering professional. Finally, engineers can undertake the Professional Engineering exam, which, upon successful completion leads to professional licensing.

http://www.nspe.org/membership/about-nspe

Engineering Accreditation In Canada

Canada has a heavily regulated engineering industry and requires licensing for anyone who wants to practice as an engineer. Engineers with degrees are simply referred to as Engineering Graduates until they have their skills assessed and licensed. The requirements vary depending on each state and involve a process of mentorship, testing and licensing. The strictness of this set-up provides barriers for foreign engineers who want to experience the working life in Canada. If you plan on moving to Canada to work as an engineer, you need to be prepared to work under a senior engineer until you can meet the necessary criteria to gain professional status.

http://www.engineerscanada.ca/frequently-asked-questions