We provide resources to assist our stakeholders in understanding our regulatory role and how we protect the public interest.
As part of its regulatory mandate, PEO establishes, maintains and develops: standards of knowledge and skill; standards of practice for the profession; standards of professional ethics; and promotes public awareness of its role. The following are resources to assist PEO stakeholders--licence holders, applicants, and the public--in understanding their roles and responsibilities and the regulator’s work protecting the public interest.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of engineering work experience is required to obtain a P.Eng. licence?
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.
Are there any exemptions?
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.
When can I apply for my licence?
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.
For details on the EIT program, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (416) 224-1100.
Do you need to be licensed to work in the field of engineering in Ontario?
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.
After graduation, can I call myself an engineer?
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.
What is “professional engineering”?
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.
Why should I become a P.Eng.?
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.
I’ve been in business for 20 years and have a storeroom full of drawings, correspondence and specifications. How long do I have to keep my project files? What kind of files should I keep?
There is no legal requirement stipulating how long documents must be retained. The documents belong to the person who created them and that person is at liberty to do with them as s/he sees fit. The most pressing reason for keeping documents is the possibility of future legal action. At present there is essentially no period of limitation so it is possible that someone can bring legal action against an engineer many years after a project is completed. Since document retention is really a matter of legal protection, you should discuss the matter with your insurance provider.
I offer my engineering expertise as a volunteer. If I receive no payment for these services, why do I need a Certificate of Authorization?
The Professional Engineers Act makes no distinction between providing professional engineering services for a fee or on a volunteer basis. The individual or volunteer organization providing professional engineering services will need a Certificate of Authorization. You should also remember that providing services as a volunteer does not make one immune to liability. Since either the client or a third party affected by the work can bring a lawsuit against the engineer or the volunteer organization, volunteers are urged to investigate their need for professional liability insurance.
I'm retired but I've been asked to work occasionally for my former employer. Do I need a Certificate of Authorization?
This depends on whether you plan to work as an independent contractor or as a contract employee. Both arrangements have benefits for you and your employer but there are significant differences in taxation, compensation and professional responsibility. You should discuss with your former employer which arrangement to use prior to coming to an agreement on how you will provide services. PEO has published guidelines on both. Since an independent contractor is a sole proprietorship you will require a Certificate of Authorization if you decide to make this arrangement. PEO reminds professional engineers registered as retired and are paying reduced fees that they are not entitled to practice professional engineering either for payment or as a volunteer.