Frequently Asked Questions: Applicants
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Why should I become a P.Eng.?
What is "professional engineering"?
After graduation, can I call myself an engineer?
Do you need to be licensed to work in the field of engineering in Ontario?
When can I apply for a licence?
Are there any exemptions?
What kind of engineering work is required to obtain a P.Eng. licence?
Does my work experience have to include all five quality-based criteria?
What about my pre-graduation experience?
Can a post-graduate degree such as a Master's Degree count towards the practical experience requirement?
Which work terms can I use for pre-graduation experience?
Does my supervisor have to be a professional engineer (P.Eng.)? Do I require a P.Eng. signature?
When do I submit my Pre-Graduation Experience Record to PEO?
What are some examples of inadequate pre-graduation experience?
May I do engineering work while my application is being considered?
What is the Engineering Intern Training (EIT) program?
If you are going to be responsible for work that is defined as professional engineering according to the Professional Engineers Act, a P.Eng. licence may be required by law.
Becoming licensed gives you the right to use “P.Eng.” after your name and “engineer” in your job title. Under the Professional Engineers Act, you may only use “engineer” in your job title if you hold a P.Eng. licence.
The P.Eng. licence also demonstrates that you have met a rigorous educational standard, have through a demanding, hands-on internship process, and are obliged to adhere to a strict code of ethics that puts the public interest first. All of these are valued within the engineering working community and society at large, awarding you credibility and recognition.
Licensing also puts you within the professional membership community of the other 75,000 licensed professional engineers organized across the province in 36 PEO chapters.
The practice of professional engineering is defined in section 1 of the Professional Engineers Act and comprises three tests. Professional engineering is:
- any act of designing, composing, evaluating, advising, reporting, directing or supervising, or the managing of any of these acts
- wherein the safeguarding of life, health, property, economic interests, the public welfare or the environment is concerned, and
- that requires the application of engineering principles.
If what you do meets all three tests, you are practising professional engineering and must be licensed by the association.
The definition applies to all situations where this particular combination of intellectual activity, societal protection and methodology exists regardless of whether the position is in industry, government or consulting.
No. Legally speaking, you are an engineering graduate, not an engineer. Only holders of a P.Eng. license are legally permitted to use the title “P.Eng.” or the term “engineer” in their job title, or to use any other term, title or description that may lead to the belief that they are authorized to practice professional engineering. An engineering education is the first step to earning your license and eventually having the right to call yourself an engineer, but you may only use the term “engineer” in your job title once you have P.Eng. licence.
As with medicine and law, you require a licence to do certain engineering work within the province of Ontario. However, not everyone working in engineering requires a licence. Whether you require a licence depends on the type of engineering work you are doing, and the level of responsibility you have. The ability to practise engineering in Ontario is regulated by the Ontario Professional Engineers Act and its regulations, which outline who requires a licence, how to obtain a licence, and when a licence may be revoked. The Act is administered by Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), a self-governing organization that grants licences to qualified individuals, disciplines licence holders who are found guilty of incompetence or misconduct, and enforces compliance with the licensing requirements of the Act. You require a licence if:
- Your work requires you to design, compose, evaluate, advise, report, direct or supervise; and
- The work will safeguard life, health, property or the public welfare; and
- The work requires the application of engineering principles.
You are not required to be licensed if, for example:
- Your work is strictly related to research, testing, or inspection; or
- There is no risk to life, health, property or the public welfare if your work is performed incorrectly; or
- The work is strictly scientific in nature.
There are also other exceptions to licensure in the Act:
- You do not need to be licensed to do professional engineering if a licensed Ontario professional engineer takes responsibility for your work.
- You do not need a licence to design tools and dies.
Any question regarding the need for a licence in a particular situation should be directed to PEO at email@example.com.
You do not have to wait to acquire your work experience before you apply for your licence. Application directly after graduation and registration in the association's Engineering Intern program (EIT) is the next phase in your transition from engineering student through to licensed professional. The EIT program provides annual reviews and guidance on the quality of experience you are receiving. Enrolment can also connect you with the engineering community through publications and Chapter membership.
You may be credited with 12 months of experience if you have a postgraduate engineering degree or degrees. Please note that this experience credit cannot replace the requirement for 12 months of engineering experience in a Canadian jurisdiction under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer.
PEO evaluates each applicant’s engineering experience against five, quality-based criteria:
Application of Theory - This is the most important criteria since it shows that the work you are doing could not be done by a person who had not studied engineering. It indicates that you are having an opportunity to use the engineering principles that you learned at university. To be considered for licensing, your experience must include meaningful participation in at least one aspect of the following applications of theory:
- design and synthesis
- testing methods
- implementation methods
- We expect that you can communicate to us which engineering principle you have used in any of the above areas and why it is applicable under the circumstances.
Practical Experience - Practical experience provides applicants with an appreciation of the fundamental roles of function, time, cost, reliability, reparability, safety and environmental impact in their work. Practical experience should include such aspects as:
- function of components as part of a larger system;
- opportunities to experience and understand the limitations of practical engineering and related human systems in achieving desired goals;
- opportunities to experience the significance of time in the engineering process;
- opportunities to acquire knowledge and understanding of codes, standards, regulations and laws that govern applicable engineering activities.
- ‘Opportunities’ mentioned above means that you have been given experience in these areas, not just observed or read manuals. Having an understanding of the codes and standards means that you know how and why they were developed and can explain this to us when asked.
Management of Engineering - Management of engineering projects includes supervising staff, managing projects, being exposed generally to an engineering business environment, and managing technology from a societal perspective. Acceptable management components involve:
- project control
- risk assessment
This criteria is one that is used to identify progress. Usually, new grads are given very little experience in this area; however, as they acquire more experience, they should be given more and more responsibilities in each component.
Communication Skills - An opportunity to develop communication skills is an important experience requirement. This applies to communication in all areas of the work environment, including communication with supervisors, co-workers, government regulators, clients and the general public. For an applicant’s experience in this area to be acceptable, the applicant should have regular opportunities to participate in:
- preparing written work;
- making oral reports or presentations;
- making presentations to the general public.
Social Implications of Engineering - The social implications of engineering are an important aspect of engineering practice. A professional engineering work environment is one that heightens an applicant’s awareness of any social consequences, both positive and negative, of an engineering activity. While not every project or activity will have direct or immediate social consequences, an applicant’s work experience should nevertheless, instill an awareness of the:
- value or benefits of engineering works to the public;
- relationship between engineering activity and the public at large;
- safeguards in place to protect employees and the public and to mitigate adverse impacts; and
- significant role of regulatory agencies in the practice of engineering.
Experience in this area should foster an awareness of an engineer’s professional responsibility to guard against conditions dangerous or threatening to life, limb, property, or the environment, and to call such conditions to the attention of those responsible. This is not limited to the immediate work environment but should extend to the end users of the engineering work.
PEO does not expect that all of your jobs will provide experience in all five of the criteria. Your experience is taken as a whole and depends on the work you do. Sometimes, you may do work that satisfies only three categories, other times work that satisfies all five. There is one exception: as mentioned earlier, the most important of the criteria is “Application of Theory”. It clearly separates out the jobs that anyone can do from jobs that require the knowledge of someone who has studied engineering. Therefore, in all cases, you should be in a position to demonstrate that this was an integral part of your work. In considering the eligibility of experience for licensing, PEO must err on the side of caution, in the public interest. Therefore, work experience that is not clearly professional engineering-related might be given only partial credit or entirely excluded from consideration.
PEO considers experience gained before graduation when assessing the quality of the required four years of satisfactory engineering experience.
PEO may allow for up to 12 months for pre-graduation experience toward the 48 months of minimum acceptable engineering experience requirement.
To be eligible, the pre-graduation experience must:
- be acceptable engineering experience, based on the five quality-based criteria;
- have been obtained after you have completed at least 50% of your courses; and
- be seen as a stepping stone to your professional development.
Each work-term must be documented and your supervisor must sign the documentation, which you will submit with your Application for Licence when you are ready to apply. PEO recognizes that pre-grad experience is not likely to be at the same level of intensity and responsibility as post-grad experience, therefore the acceptability feature is somewhat lighter than what is expected after graduation. However, PEO does expect to see that the pre-grad experience is a learning tool and will have aided in progressing the applicant’s understanding of the professional engineering working environment.
Can a post-graduate degree such as a Master’s Degree count towards the practical experience requirement?
Completing of a post-graduate degree in engineering, in the same or reasonably similar discipline of engineering as your Bachelor’s, normally results in 12 months of credit towards the required 48 months of experience. You will not receive credit for studies in areas outside of engineering (e.g. business administration).
A post-graduate student may also get additional experience credit if the student works in conjunction with industry sponsorship, is directly supervised by a P.Eng. at the sponsoring company and the thesis research work has a distinct, and imminent practical application meeting PEO’s criteria. This work is not equivalent to industrial experience and is assessed separately.
The total experience credit cannot exceed the time spent to complete the post-graduate degree.
Any work term or summer job involving engineering, started after you have completed 50% of your program’s course load, may be eligible for consideration.
The supervisor who signs your pre-graduation work experience form does not have to be a professional engineer. However, if there is a question about the eligibility of your experience, having a P.Eng. supervisor will aid PEO in its evaluation.
Your work experience has to satisfy PEO’s experience requirements. Therefore, anything you can do to demonstrate clearly the appropriateness of your work experience can be valuable. For example, if your supervisor was not a P.Eng., but his/her manager was, you might consider having both your supervisor and his/her manager sign your pre-graduation experience summary.
Submit your Pre-graduation Experience Record at the time you apply for your P.Eng. licence. Do not wait until then to fill out the form, however. Fill out the form as soon as you have ended your work placement, so you can get it signed by your employer (and can accurately recall what exactly you worked on).
Sales or marketing jobs where you do not apply theory and/or engineering principles might not meet PEO’s experience requirement. A data entry job or simple programming or database manipulation, where you use a software package designed by someone else might not qualify if your work does not include engineering analysis and design.
Providing technical support for a software company while studying to become a civil engineer would likely not qualify as pre-graduation experience as it is not in your field of study unless you prove through your post-grad experience that you are practising in a field that combines the two streams.
Yes. You may do engineering work, provided a licensed professional engineer takes responsibility for your work. In Ontario, it is illegal to use the title “professional engineer” or any variation thereof as an occupational or business title if you are not licensed by PEO.
The EIT program provides guidance and assistance to engineering graduates as they acquire the 48 months of acceptable engineering work experience, including annual reviews of experience to ensure that an applicant is “on the right track” for licensing.
Benefits of the EIT program include:
- the opportunity to receive detailed, confidential, annual; work experience reviews;
- eligibility to participate in PEO’s Mentorship Program;
- access to Engineering Dimensions, the association’s official journal;
- opportunities to attend EIT seminars at PEO’s office or through sponsoring chapters;
- the opportunity to join a PEO chapter, attend meetings and network with professional colleagues;
- email notices of events or items of interest pertaining to your development into a licensed engineer;
- access to the Licence Holders’ Only section of PEO’s website and the opportunity to participate in online discussions with other PEO members through the Discussion Forum; and
- the opportunity to join the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and participate in their member-only services, such as insurance and investment plans, and online Career Centre.
As well, becoming an EIT demonstrates to employers that an applicant is serious about being licensed as a professional engineer.
To enroll in the EIT program, you must be an applicant for licensure – meaning you have met the academic requirements of licensure (e.g. graduated from a CEAB-accredited program). You can apply as soon as you graduate by filling out an application for licensure form. If you apply within the first six months of graduation, PEO will waive the licence application fee and your first year of EIT program fees through our Financial Credit Program, saving you approximately $400.
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