To answer this question you must first understand why the term 'engineer' is not legally recognised since it would require the particular functions being controlled by statute to be defined. Given the huge range of engineering disciplines, it is simply not possible to isolate all the functions that engineers undertake, except in narrow sectors such as mining.
In fact, even 'doctor' and 'lawyer' are not legally protected terms. Medical procedures may be undertaken by anyone who obtains the consent of their patient and legal advice is freely available from unregistered practitioners.
But the comparison with other professions is an interesting one, and the number of Chartered Engineers registered with the UK Engineering Council is second only to the number of doctors licensed to practice by the General Medical Council. So whilst anyone may call themselves an engineer, the professional title 'CEng' may only be used by someone with current Engineering Council registration. This is a legally protected term under the UK Engineering Council's Royal Charter.
Unlike Mining Engineers, Drilling & Petroleum Engineers are not required to be Chartered, in the UK at least. Historically, competence has been checked by word of mouth and reliance on a CV, although it is increasingly common to have company specific competency assessment schemes in place. Whilst these are welcome developments, only Chartered Engineer indicates that your competence has been assessed by other engineering professionals and is comparable with internationally recognised Standards.
So why bother, particularly as like me I am sure that you have worked with many good engineers who were not Chartered, and being Chartered doesn't guarantee competence and ability. But it does demonstrate a desire to take responsibility for one's professional development, of going the extra mile, of taking pride in one's professional achievements. Faced with a choice between similar candidates, one Chartered, one not, which one would you choose?
Craig Durham, President MIS, October 2010
<< back to technical presentations menu