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Engineering in Canada

Licensing and use of the term Engineer

It’s essential to note that the term Engineer is restricted to licensed engineers (Professional Engineers, suffix PEng), and unlike many jurisdictions, this is enthusiastically enforced. If you use the term engineer in your title without registration, you will get a letter from the local regulatory body and ultimately you can end up in court. This can call for some creativity in terms of job title but the advice is to take this very seriously. Beyond use of the word engineer the law requires that all construction drawings, final reports, etc are stamped and sealed by a Professional Engineer of the respective discipline.

Registration as a Professional Engineer is done by the provincial bodies. Although Engineers Canada is a signatory of The Washington Accord, recognition of this by the provincial bodies is uneven and cannot be relied on. As building services engineering is not recognised as an engineering discipline, a slew of challenging out-of-discipline exams can be assigned.

There are other provincial requirements to licensing for example PEO requires one year supervised practise and passing a Professional Practise and Ethics Exam, but these are not a constraint.

The engineering associations primarily exist to license engineers here, so knowledge sharing is carried out by bodies such as ASHRAE, IEEE and IESNA, whilst advocacy in Ontario is by the OSPE.

Chartered Engineer versus Canadian Professional Engineer

Our colleagues at the IMechE Canada Group have produced an excellent article on the subject of CEng vs PEng registration. The author Stephen Armstrong is qualified as both and has participated in the membership evaluation process for both IMechE and PEO. He is thus uniquely qualified to comment on the fundamental differences in the process from both a historical and practical perspective. Put simply this is the most definitive article I've ever read on the subject and essential reading for anyone considering coming to Canada, or already here and bewildered by the lack of recognition given to Chartered status on ground.

The Iron Ring

One other quirk of Canadian engineering is the Iron Ring and associated ceremony. Permanent residents and citizens can apply for this even if you studied abroad subject to you being in the process of applying for PEng. After completing the ceremony you can wear the Canadian Engineers' ring, a distinctive steel ring (often stainless steel these days) worn on the little finger of your primary hand. This is purely a tradition and is not linked to PEng registration.

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