ProjectsLibraryNotice BoardAbout UsContact Us
  Economic & Social Research Council Website
Regulation and licensure in engineering

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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, 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.