Regulation and licensure in engineering is established by various jurisdictions of the world to encourage public welfare, safety, well-being and other interests of the general public, and to define the licensure process through which an engineer becomes authorized to practice engineering and/or provide engineering professional services to the public.
As with many other professions, the professional status and the actual practice of professional engineering is legally defined and protected by law in some jurisdictions. Additionally, some jurisdictions permit only licensed engineers (sometimes called registered engineers) to "practice engineering," which requires careful definition in order to resolve potential overlap or ambiguity with respect to certain other professions which may or may not be themselves regulated (e.g. "scientists," or "architects"). Relatedly, jurisdictions that license according to particular engineering discipline need to define those boundaries carefully as well so that practitioners understand what they are permitted to do.
In many cases, only a licensed/registered engineer has the authority to take legal responsibility for engineering work or projects (typically via a seal or stamp on the relevant design documentation). Regulations may require that only a licensed or registered engineer can sign, seal, or stamp technical documentation such as reports, plans, engineering drawings, and calculations for study estimate or valuation, or carry out design, analysis, repair, servicing, maintenance, or supervision of engineering work, process or project. In cases where public safety, property or welfare is concerned, it may be required that an engineer be licensed or registered – though some jurisdictions have an "industrial exemption" that permits engineers to work internally for an organization without licensure so long as they are not making final decisions to release product to the public or offering engineering services directly to the public (e.g. consultant).
Expert witness or opinion in courts or before government committees or commissions can be provided by experts in the respective field, which is sometimes given by a registered or licensed engineer in some jurisdictions.
Becoming an engineer is a process that varies widely around the world. In some regions, use of the term "engineer" is regulated, in others it is not. Where engineering is a regulated profession, there are specific procedures and requirements for obtaining a registration, charter or license to practice engineering. These are obtained from the government or a charter-granting authority acting on its behalf, and engineers are subject to regulation by these bodies. In addition to licensure, there are voluntary certification programs for various disciplines which involve examinations accredited by the Council of Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards.
Due to occupational closure, licensed engineers enjoy significant influence over their regulation. They are often the authors of the pertinent codes of ethics used by some of these organizations. Engineers in private practice most often find themselves in traditional professional-client relationships in their practice. Engineers employed in government service and government-run industry are on the other side of that relationship. Despite the different focus, engineers in industry and private practice face similar ethical issues and reach similar conclusions. One American engineering society, the National Society of Professional Engineers, has sought to extend a single professional license and code of ethics for all engineers, regardless of practice area or employment sector.
In the United States, registration or licensure of professional engineers and engineering practice is governed by the individual states. Each registration or license is valid only in the state where it is granted. Some licensed engineers maintain licenses in more than one state. Comity, also known as reciprocity, between states allows engineers who are licensed or registered in one state to obtain a license in another state without meeting the ordinary rigorous proof of qualification by testing. This is accomplished by the second state recognizing the validity of the first state's licensing or registration process.
Licensure in the United States began in the State of Wyoming when lawyers, notaries and others without engineering training were making poor quality submissions to the state for permission to use state water for irrigation. Clarence Johnson, the Wyoming state engineer, presented a bill in 1907 to the state legislature that required registration for anyone presenting themselves as an engineer or land surveyor and created a board of examiners. Charles Bellamy, a 52-year-old engineer and mineral surveyor then became the first licensed professional engineer in the United States. After enactment, Johnson would wryly write about the effect of the law, saying, "A most astonishing change took place within a few months in the character of maps and plans filed with the applications for permits." Louisiana, followed by Florida and Illinois, would become the next states to require licensure. Montana became the last state to legislate the licensing in 1947.
Requirements for licensing vary, but generally are as follows:
For standardization, FE and PE exams are written and graded by a central organization, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). However, each state's board of professional engineers individually sets the requirements to take the exams, as well as the passing score. For example, applicants in some states must provide professional references from several PEs before they can take the PE exam. There is a fairly large range in exam pass rates for FE and PE exams, but the pass rate for repeat test takers is significantly lower.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have engineering boards that are represented on the NCEES, which administers both the FE and PE examinations.
Degree requirements in the United States are evolving. Effective January 1, 2020, the NCEES model will require additional credits beyond a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree. NCEES is developing the types of creditable activities that will satisfy the additional educational requirement. This has received some support from civil engineers.
As of 2013, it is still possible for an individual to bypass Steps No. 2 and 4. In Texas, for example, both FE and PE exam waivers are still available to individuals with several years of creditable experience.
In a few states, it is still possible for an individual to bypass Step No. 1 and apply to take the registration examinations—as long as a PE sponsors the applicant—because work experience can be substituted for academic experience. The requirement for years of experience may also vary. For example, in California it is possible to take a PE examination with only two years of experience after a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree, or one year of experience after a Master of Engineering. Some states also have state-specific examinations, most notably California where there is a state-specific structural engineering exam and two additional exams in land surveying and earthquake engineering for civil engineering candidates.
Some states issue generic professional engineering licenses. Others, known as "discipline states", issue licenses for specific disciplines of engineering, such as civil engineering, mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering. However, in all cases engineers are ethically required to limit their practice to their area of competency, which is usually a small portion of a discipline. While licensing boards do not often enforce this limitation, it can be a factor in negligence lawsuits. In a few states, licensed civil engineers may also perform land surveys.
In addition to the person's license, most states require that firms providing engineering services are authorized to do so. For instance, the state of Florida issues a certificate of authorization to firms that are owned by a professional engineer.
Civil engineers account for a large portion of licensed professional engineers. In Texas, for example, about 37 percent of licenses are for civil engineers, with civil engineering exams making up more than half of the exams taken. Many of the remainder are mechanical, electrical, and structural engineers. However, some engineers in other fields obtain licenses for the ability to serve as professional witnesses in courts, before government committees or just for prestige—even though they may never actually sign and seal design documents.
Since regulation of the practice of engineering is performed by the individual states in the United States, areas of engineering involved in interstate commerce are essentially unregulated. These areas include much of mechanical, aerospace, and chemical engineering—and may be specifically exempted from regulation under an "industrial exemption". An industrial exemption covers engineers who design products such as automobiles that are sold (or have the potential to be sold) outside the state where they are produced, as well as the equipment used to produce the product. Structures subject to building codes are not covered by an industrial exemption, though small residential buildings often do not require an engineer's seal. In some jurisdictions, the role of architects and structural engineers overlap. In general, the primary professional responsible for designing habitable buildings is an architect. The architect signs and seals design plans for buildings and other structures that humans may occupy. A structural engineer is contracted to provide technical structural design ensuring the stability and safety of the overall structure, however, no states currently allow engineers the ability to perform professional architecture without also being licensed as an architect.
Many private companies employ non-degree workers in technical positions with engineering titles such as "test engineer" or "field engineer". At the company's discretion, as long as the company does not offer engineering services directly to the public or other businesses, such positions may not require an engineering licensure.
However, it is important to make a distinction between a "graduate engineer" and a "professional engineer". A "graduate engineer" is anyone holding a degree in engineering from an accredited four-year university program, but is not licensed to practice or offer services to the public. Unlicensed engineers usually work as employees for a company, or as professors in engineering colleges, where they are governed under the industrial exemption clause.
The practice of engineering in Canada is highly regulated under a system of licensing administered by a self regulated engineering association in each province. In Canada the designation "professional engineer" can only be used by licensed engineers and the practice of engineering is protected in law and strictly enforced in all provinces. The regulation and licensing of engineers is done through each provinces own engineering association which was created by acts passed by the provinces legislatures. There is also Engineers Canada which regulates undergraduate programs for engineering. The process for registration is generally as follows:
Professional engineers are not licensed in a specific discipline but are bound by their respective provincial code of ethics (e.g. in Ontario: Professional Engineers Act R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 941) from practicing beyond their training and experience. Breaches of the code are often sufficient grounds for enforcement measures, which may include the suspension or loss of license, and financial penalties. It could also result in serving time jail, should negligence be shown to have played a part in any incident that causes loss of human life.
Engineers are not tested on technical knowledge during the licensing process if their education was accredited by the CEAB. Accreditation of schools and their accredited degree granting status are monitored and controlled. This accreditation process is governed by Engineers Canada through their active group CEAB.
The accreditation process is continuous and enforced through regular accreditation reviews of each school. These reviews typically include the review of the school's curriculum (including marked final exams and assignments), interviews of current students, extracurricular activities and teaching staff as well additional areas the visiting board may feel need addressing. The specific areas considered are curriculum content, program environment and general criteria. The associations are granted both an exclusive right to title and an exclusive right to practice. There are only a few exceptions specifically noted in the acts—which do not include any "industrial exemptions". Therefore, a professional engineer is legally required to be registered. The level of enforcement varies depending on the specific industry. And, in some provinces, there is no requirement of having graduated from an accredited Canadian university in order to be a professional engineer.
The professional engineer's license is only valid in the province of delivery. There are, however, agreements between the associations to ease mobility. In 2009, professional engineers Ontario led an initiative to develop a national engineering licensing framework.
The term "engineer" is often used loosely in some Canadian industry sectors to describe people working in the field of engineering technology—not professional engineering—as engineering technologists or engineering technicians and trades names such as stationary engineer. For example, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Canadian Navy often calls its technicians "marine engineers," "power engineers" and "military engineers" internally, but not in the public domain. The term "locomotive engineer" has been an integral part of the Canadian railroad since its inception. "Stationary engineering" is a trade whose technicians operate heavy machinery and equipment that provide heat, light, climate control and power.
"In general there is no restriction on the right to practise as an engineer in the UK. However there are a small number of areas of work, generally safety related, which are reserved by statute, regulations or industry standards to licensed or otherwise approved persons." The title "engineer" is not regulated, but certain engineering titles are. There is no system for licensing, but registers are held of qualified persons. The Engineering Council is the U.K. regulatory body for its engineering profession. It holds the national registers of 235,000 engineers registered as EngTech (engineering technicians), ICTTech (information and communications technology technicians), IEng (incorporated engineers) and CEng (chartered engineers). These titles are fully protected under law by means of the Engineering Council's Royal Charter and By-Laws. In order to protect these titles, action is taken through the courts against their unauthorized use.
To receive designation as a CEng, it is required to have approved education (typically to Master's level) and also demonstrate significant technical and commercial leadership and management competencies.
A chartered engineer is entitled to register through the European Federation of National Engineering Associations as a European Engineer and use the pre-nominal designation: Eur Ing.
In India, engineers with a bachelor's or master's degree in engineering or technology from a university are allowed to practice as consulting engineers—They must be licensed or registered with municipalities in order to submit public plans, designs or drawings for approval and record. The Institution of Engineers (India) was granted British Royal Charter in 1935, and admits engineers holding the above degrees as a corporate member (AMIE) or chartered engineer [India]: CEng [India].
IE(India) also offers registration as a professional engineer (PE [India]) and international professional engineer (PE [Int'l]) to member-engineers having seven years of active practical engineering experience after achieving their degrees. IE(India) is a member of IPEA (International Professional Engineers Agreement) with bilateral agreements with many national, foreign and international engineering institutions. Many municipalities exempt chartered engineers (PE[India] or PE [Int'l]) from their licenser or registration, by reciprocity (comity). All such consulting engineers must be licensed, registered or chartered regardless of their discipline or area of practice.
In Iran, registration or licensure of professional engineers and engineering practice is governed by Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (Iran). For standardization, FE and PE exams are written and graded by a central organization, the National Organization for Examination and Training (NOET) which is known as Sanjesh in Persian.
Requirements for licensing are as follows:
Graduate from accredited four-year college or university program with a degree in engineering (e.g., Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Science in Engineering. Complete a standard Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) written examination, which tests applicants on breadth of understanding of basic engineering principles and, optionally, some elements of an engineering speciality. Accumulate a certain amount of engineering experience requirement is at least four years. Complete a written Principles and Practice in Engineering (PE) examination, which tests the applicant's knowledge and skills in their chosen engineering discipline (civil, electrical, industrial, mechanical, computer, etc.), as well as engineering ethics.
In Pakistan, engineering education and profession is regulated by the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) via PEC Act 1976. PEC is a federal government organization. Any person with an engineering degree (BE/BS/BSc Engineering) from PEC accredited universities/institutes is legally allowed to register with the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) with two categories. Registered engineer (RE) and professional engineer (PE). Previously, every engineering graduate registered with the PEC and at least 5 years of relevant work experience was eligible for the title of professional engineer (PE) without any exam. To improve the quality of engineering profession, a two-tier system has been introduced via PEC CPD Bye-Laws 2008. This system was realistically implemented starting 10 July 2010. Graduate engineers now enroll and practice as registered engineer (RE) in their general discipline of work. After at least 5 years of relevant work experience and accumulation of at least 17 CPD (Continued Professional Development) points, they may attempt the Engineering Practice Examination (EPE) conducted by the PEC. EPE is held by PEC biennially in major cities across the country. Those who pass the EPE are given the prestigious title of professional engineer (PE) in their specialized discipline of work.
PEC unilaterally honors the Engineers Mobility Forum (EMF)/International Professional Engineers Agreement (IPEA). An engineer already registered as a professional engineer with EMF/IPEA will be exempt from EPE & CPD points requirement and will be awarded professional engineer (PE) title on submission of application. This has been made possible through clause 13 (h) of PEC CPD Bye-Laws 2008. To improve the quality of engineering services, engineers with professional engineer (PE) status are also required to engage in CPD activities in order to be able to retain their PE license. CPD points are awarded for various developmental activities such as formal education (e.g. Postgraduate diploma, master or PhD), on-job experience, participating in conferences/workshops as audience, speaker or organizer, publications in technical journals, part-time teaching activities, serving as guest lecturer (other than full-time teaching) and serving as external examiner for master/PhD thesis.
For CPD points system, upper limit of points has also been implemented to prevent abuse of the system and encourage balanced participation in various CPD activities. In case of on-job work experience which is the primary engagement of engineering profession, one CPD point is awarded for 400 hours of work. Upper limit of 2 credit points per year has been established for on-job work experience. Rewarding only 800 hours (~4 months full-time) of work per year has many benefits including inherent tolerance for bouts of unemployment, in-built allowance for sickness/disease/injury, discouraging workaholism, enabling full-time engineering teachers to gain relevant field experience with reduced time commitment (e.g. part-time consulting engagement) and encouraging participation in other CPD activities which further the engineering profession (e.g. guest lectures, publishing research, authoring a book and social work for engineers under recognized engineers' associations).
To avoid confusion, PEC CPD Bye-Laws 2008 introduced the legal term "registered person". Registered person is a term distinct from registered engineer (RE). It is a blanket term used for all persons enrolled with PEC in any capacity – whether as registered engineers (RE) or professional engineers (PE).
In Sri Lanka, the title "engineer" is not regulated. However, as per the Engineering Council Act No 4 of 2017, all engineering practitioners in Sri Lanka needs to be registered with the engineering council to practice. Failing do to so would result in an offence and can be convicted by a summary trial before a Magistrate with imprisonment period not exceeding one year and/or a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees.
The European Engineer (Eur Ing, EUR ING) is an international professional qualification for engineers used in many European countries. The title is granted after successful application to a national member of the European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI), which includes representation from many European countries, including much of the European Union. It allows a person who has an engineering degree and usually an engineering professional qualification in one of the member countries to use the qualification in others, but this depends on local legislation.
The title Eur Ing is "pre-nominal," i.e., it is placed before rather than after the name as in the case of a post-nominal title such as those for academic degrees (however, in some EU countries, academic degrees are also pre-nominal). Names are also placed on the FEANI Register maintained by FEANI in addition to national member registers.
Another association in Europe is the EurEta. The professional title "Ing. EurEta" is used as a pre-nominal (similar to Dr. or Prof). An engineer registered with EurEta "European Higher Engineering and Technical Professionals Association" is called an "EurEta Registered Engineer," and has the right to use this title in Europe.
In Germany academic title Dipl.-Ing. (Diplom-Ingenieur, diploma engineer) is awarded by the educational ministries of the federal states (Bundesländer) after having completed an academic engineering education according to the German engineer's law (Ingenieurgesetz); however, it is not a license to practice engineering, rather an academic title. The degrees Ing. grad. (graduierter Ingenieur, graduate engineer) and Obering. (Oberingenieur, supervisor engineer) are no longer awarded. The designation "Dipl.-Ing". is recognized by FEANI as a precursor for registration as "Eur Ing". "Dipl.-Ing." does not confer licensing by the government, and therefore is not equivalent to the steps of licensing (e.g., mandatory references, minimum work experience and a second theoretical and practical exam) conducted in other countries such as the U.K., Canada or the United States.
"State-certified engineer" (German: staatlich geprüfter Techniker) is a European Union qualification for a professional engineer of technology or professional engineering technologist (not to be confused with an engineering technician or "Dipl.-Ing"). It is granted to engineering technologists upon successful completion of a technical college and it is also granted by an international organization with headquarters in Germany, the "BVT", Federal Association of Higher Professions for Technology, Economy and Design (Bundesverband höherer Berufe der Technik, Wirtschaft und Gestaltung e.V.).
EU Directive 2005L0036-EN 01.01.2007
ANNEX III List of regulated education and training referred to in the third subparagraph of Article 13(2)
A member of the BVT is entitled to use the initials "BVT" after his name. To achieve this qualification, it is required to complete a 42-month apprenticeship program, a minimum 2,400 hour college diploma in engineering or technology, two years of relevant experience and pass the state examination. The academic requirement to be a state-certified engineer is a degree equivalent to level 6 on EQF = bachelor on the European Qualification Framework. A bachelor's (honours) degree in engineering or engineering technology from an accredited university is also equated to level 6 on EQF. A state-certified engineer is not required to complete a university degree. Before Jan. 31, 2012, a state-certified engineer certificate usually qualified the holder to proceed to bachelor's level education at a university of applied science. In the past, this led to wide and controversial discussions between bachelor's and master's degrees engineers and state-certified engineers.
Today, this is on the same level as a bachelor's degree. One can continue to study to a master's degree with the SCE qualification. The academic requirements for qualification are similar to incorporated engineer qualification/registration by EC UK. State-certified engineers now assist engineers with only a diploma or master's degree. They are also holding full engineering positions as systems engineers, integration engineers, test engineers, QA engineers, etc.
State-certified engineer, business manager and designer levels are now a level 6–Bachelor on DQF and EQF, as of Jan. 31, 2012. The following top representatives and agents institutions were involved: federal government (Federal Ministry for Education and Research, Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology), standing conference and economic ministerial meeting of countries, the Confederation of German Employers' Associations, German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, German Trade Union Federation and the Federal Institute for Vocational Application. They agreed on a common position on the implementation of the EQF, as a German qualifications framework (DQR).
Letters after or before a person's name (post-nominal or pre-nominal letters) are commonly used to denote the holder of an engineering license in various jurisdictions:
In many countries, laws exist that limit the use of job titles containing the word "engineer".
In Canada it is illegal to practice engineering, or use the title "professional engineer" or "engineer", without a license. There are a couple of exceptions - stationary engineer and power engineer. Engineering in Canada is regulated in the public interest by self-governing professional licensing bodies. These bodies were established by Canada's 13 provincial and territorial governments through legislation. The provincial and territorial governments have delegated their constitutional authority to regulate engineers and engineering in Canada to professional licensing bodies that are maintained and governed by the profession, creating a system of self-regulation.
The first law related to professional engineering in Ontario was created in 1922 and allowed for the creation of a voluntary association to oversee registration of engineers. The Act of 1922 was "open", meaning that membership in the association was not mandatory for practising engineers. In Ontario, regulation of engineering practice dates to 1937, when the Professional Engineers Act was amended and the engineering profession was "closed" to non-qualified individuals; that is, licensure was made mandatory for anyone practising professional engineering. The provincial government determined that it would be in the public interest to restrict the practice of engineering to those who were qualified, and the right to practice was "closed" to non-engineers as a result of the failures of bridges and buildings, which had been designed by unskilled individuals.
Canadian provinces legally allow engineers to self-regulate their profession. The licensing bodies fulfil this mandate by ensuring standards of engineering practice and education in Canada, by setting standards for admission into the profession, by disciplining engineers who fail to uphold the profession's practice and ethical standards, and by preventing the misuse of the title professional engineer by individuals who are not licensed members of the profession. They also take appropriate action to prevent the illegal practice of engineering by unlicensed individuals. Each licensing body's mandate and obligation to undertake this role is laid out in the act that created it. Although each act is slightly different, most also define a scope of practice for engineers and specifically restrict the use of the title professional engineer to individuals who have been licensed by the engineering licensing body in the province or territory where the act applies.
The use of the term engineer was an issue between professional bodies, the IT industry, and the security industry, where companies or associations may issue certifications or titles with the word engineer as part of that title (such as security engineer or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer). Microsoft has since changed the title to "Microsoft Certified IT Professional". Several licensing bodies for professional engineering contend that only licensed professional engineers are legally allowed to use the title engineer. The IT industry, on the other hand, counters that:
Court rulings regarding the usage of the term engineer have been mixed. For example, after complaints were lodged by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, a court in Quebec fined Microsoft Canada $1,000 for misusing the "engineer" title by referring to MCSE graduates as engineers. Conversely, an Alberta court dismissed the lawsuit filed by The Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA) against Raymond Merhej for using the title "system engineer," claiming that, 'The respondent's situation is such that it cannot be contended that the public is likely to be deceived, confused or jeopardized by his use of the term...'" APEGGA also lost the appeal to this decision.
The Canadian Information Processing Society, and in particular CIPS Ontario, have attempted to strike a balance between the professional engineering licensing bodies and the IT industry over the use of the term engineer in the software industry, but so far no major agreements or decisions have been announced.
Additional confusion has taken place over similarly-named occupations. One such example is power engineers or stationary engineers. Graduates of a two-year college level power engineering technology program in Nova Scotia may use the title power engineer or stationary engineer. This conflicts with the title often used in the electrical industry for professional engineers who design related equipment and can cause confusion.
In the United States, the title "professional engineer" is legally protected, meaning that it is unlawful to use it to offer engineering services to the public unless permission, certification, or other official endorsement is specifically granted by that state through a professional engineering license. Also, many states prohibit unlicensed persons from calling themselves an "engineer" or indicating branches or specialties not covered by the licensing acts. Employees of state or federal agencies may also call themselves engineers if that term appears in their official job title. The IEEE's formal position on this is as follows: "The title, engineer, and its derivatives should be reserved for those individuals whose education and experience qualify them to practice in a manner that protects public safety. Strict use of the title serves the interest of both the IEEE-USA and the public by providing a recognized designation by which those qualified to practice engineering may be identified."
Every state regulates the practice of engineering to ensure public safety by granting only Professional Engineers (PEs) the authority to sign and seal engineering plans and offer their services to the public. There are additional requirements to include at least one professional engineer within the firm for these type of companies to include the word engineering in the title of the business, although these requirements are not universal.
In the United States, an "industrial exemption" allows businesses to employ employees and call them an "engineer", as long as such individuals are under the direct supervision and control of the business entity and function internally related to manufacturing (manufactured parts) related to the business entity, or work internally within an exempt organization. Such person does not have the final authority to approve, or the ultimate responsibility for, engineering designs, plans, or specifications that are to be: (A) incorporated into fixed works, systems, or facilities on the property of others; or (B) made available to the public. These individuals are prohibited from representing an ability or willingness to perform engineering services or make an engineering judgment requiring a licensed professional engineer, engage in practice of engineering, offer engineering services directly to the public, and/or other businesses; unless the business entity is registered with the state’s board of engineering, and the practice is carried on/supervised directly only by engineers licensed to engage in the practice of engineering. Examples are sanitation engineer, production engineer, test engineer, network engineer, project engineer, systems engineer and sales engineer. These are often seen in engineering job advertisements online and in news papers. Most of the advertisements and employers don't require licensing because these positions do not pose a direct threat to public health or pose a liability danger.
The US model has generally been only to require the practicing engineers offering engineering services that impact the public welfare, safety, or safeguarding of life, health, or property to be licensed, while engineers working in private industry without a direct offering of engineering services to the public or other businesses, education, and government need not be licensed.
In the United States, use of the title professional engineer is restricted to those holding a professional engineer's license. These people have the right to add the letters PE after their names on resumes, business cards and other communication. However, each state has its own licensing procedure, and the license is valid only in the state that granted it. Therefore, many professional engineers maintain licenses in more than one state. Comity, also known as reciprocity, between states allows engineers who are licensed or registered in one state to obtain a license in another state without meeting the ordinary rigorous proof of qualification by testing. This is accomplished by the second state recognizing the validity of the first state's licensing or registration process.
Other uses of the term engineer are legally controlled and protected to varying degrees, dependent on the state and the enforcement of its engineering certification board. The term is frequently applied to fields where practitioners may have no engineering background, or the work has no basis in the physical engineering disciplines; for example sanitation engineer.
With regard to the term "software engineer", many states, such as Texas and Florida, have introduced license requirements for such a title that are in line with the requirements for more traditional engineering fields.
Engineering in the UK is not a licensed profession. In the UK, the term "engineer" is often applied to non-degreed vocations such as technologists, technicians, draftsmen, machinists, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, repair people, and semi-skilled occupations. Many of these occupations adopt the term "engineer", "professional engineer", "registered engineer", "gas engineer", "heating engineer", "drainage engineer", "automobile engineer", "aircraft engineer" and many hundreds of derivatives. British Gas describe their installation and maintenance mechanics as registered professional engineers. Most members of the UK public perceive the engineer and engineering as a semi-skilled trade. The work and identity of UK Chartered Engineers is often styled as science and scientists by the UK media causing public confusion. There are a few fields of practice, generally safety related, which are reserved by statute to licensed persons.
The Engineering Council UK grants the titles "chartered engineer," "incorporated engineer," "engineering technician" and "information and communications technology technician". It also declares them to be "professional engineers". The incorporated engineer is an engineer, as declared by the Engineering Council of the United Kingdom and the European definition of title under 2005/36/EC. UK incorporated engineers are recognized internationally through the Sydney Accord academic agreement as engineering technologists.
According to the European Union's European Commission, chartered engineer is a regulated profession.
Competent authorities are responsible to take a decision when a professional from another member state wants to practice this regulated profession. In case of provision of service, the declaration must be sent to the U.K. Engineering Council prior to the provisioning of services.
All chartered and incorporated engineers in the U.K. are members of an engineering institution usually aligned with their undergraduate degree (mechanical, civil, chemical, electrical, aeronautical etc.). There are various levels of membership (including student, associate, member, fellow) with designation letters.
An example is Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (MIET) (formerly Institution of Electrical Engineers). This category is open to professional engineers with suitable qualifications and involvement in areas relevant to the interests of the institution. MIET is a regulated professional title recognized in Europe by Directive 2005/36. MIET is listed on the part 2 professions regulated by professional bodies incorporated by Royal Charter-Statutory Instruments 2007 No. 2781 Professional Qualifications-The European Communities (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2007.
MIET Title: Electrical and computer (technology) engineer
Incorporated engineer is a first-cycle qualification for Bachelor of Engineering or Bachelor of Science degree holders (Sydney Accord, equivalent to technologist). Chartered engineer is a second-cycle qualification usually reserved for holders of integrated Master of Engineering degrees. Both IEng and CEng require substantial professional experience (4–8 years post graduate), a professional review and an interview.
It is illegal in the U.K. to hold that one is a chartered or incorporated engineer unless so registered with the Engineering Council. The title of "engineer" by itself is not regulated in the U.K.
While the Engineering Council is the primary body registering engineers in U.K., there are other professional societies that register engineers as well. Under its royal charter, Engineering Council grants licenses to engineering institutions allowing them to assess candidates for inclusion on its register of professional engineers and technicians, and to accredit academic programs and professional development schemes. There are more than 30 institutions licensed to register professional engineers with the Engineering Council.
Candidates can become a chartered engineer (CEng) or incorporated engineer (IEng) in the U.K. through programs administered by the City and Guilds London Institute. These programs lead to a City and Guilds graduate diploma in engineering and to a post-graduate diploma in engineering. They are recognized by IET.