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If You Are Not a Licensed Engineer, You Are Still An Engineer

What’s the purpose of having an engineering license anyway?

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Not a Licensed Engineer?



In the field of engineering, there seems to be a perennial issue between engineers having licenses and those having none.

It has created some unnecessary barriers at work because of the pride that licensed engineers hold. But that shouldn’t be the case.

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What’s the purpose of having an engineering license anyway?

After sleepless nights, reading all those engineering books, pinching your scientific calculators on radians the whole time… you passed the board exam. Congrats, you are now an engineer.

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An engineering license allows one engineer to work having the credit of an engineer.

Regulations about licensing in engineering vary from different countries but a license has one humanitarian purpose: it is to encourage safety and well-being of the general public by being accountable as an engineer.

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It is the stronghold of the law for engineers to take legal responsibility for any engineering work or projects, through the registered engineers’ signatures, seals and stamps.

In Canada, if you are a licensed engineer, you need to wear that Iron Ring as a symbol of accomplishment. Just like a wedding ring that brags you are already married.

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It’s more than just having an “engineer” tagged in a name.

An engineering license is considered the highest standard of competence, which dignifies an engineering graduate who really is capable to practice his or her profession. It is the title that represents an authority and responsibility.

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Moreover, registered engineers get immediate respect from peers and an innate sense of achievement.

They are also the ones who are first noticed by employers upon hiring, even when licenses are not necessarily required to be in the workforce.

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There is so much power than a powerbank that is paired with an engineering license; however, there’s a huge “but” to all these merits: if one is not a licensed engineer, it doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t have the right to work as an engineer.

He or she also has a valid engineering opinion that may even be better than those who have licenses.

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The title is not strictly exclusive to those who passed professional exams, but also to those who uphold the values and ideas of an engineer, which is to design and innovate.

Perhaps a child with passion and ideals in structural engineering can be called a real engineer, as opposed to a board passer electrical engineer who sells second hand cars with loud speakers.

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It may be that the law doesn’t allow non-licensed engineers to be called engineers in everything they do, but it doesn’t mean they are not also allowed to act like engineers.

They can still become engineers of their own right.

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We need to stop thinking highly if we are one of those registered engineers. We need to stop thinking lowly if we are one of those non-registered engineers.

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Either way, this is a kind of thinking lying at the back of our heads which breeds the discrimination.

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We are all engineers if we do engineering. Period.

What are your thoughts on this?

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Patricia Eldridge
Patricia took her MBA in London, UK. She's a model, actress, blogger and a copywriter. Her boyfriend is an overworked and underpaid engineer.


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  1. Thank you for that information and it inspires me as non licensed engineer, Thank you mate.

  2. Thanks so much for that inspirational information. I may not be a licensed engineer but I comply the safety & quality regulations as a human being.

  3. What if you don’t have a driver’s license, are you capable of driving in the National roads & highways? Or can you drive internationally?

  4. They can be allowed to ACT LIKE engineers but not to PRACTICE engineering. What do they know about standards if they didn’t passed the exams? If they failed to a basic bunch of questions in engineering, they might also fail in giving safety & engineering standards. When I was a kid, I wonder if I want to be a doctor or to be an engineer. I chose engineering because I am afraid of the idea of being responsible for ones life. I was wrong. In engineering, we are responsible for thousands & million lives. Think of this – are you going to trust your life to someone who is ACTING LIKE a doctor?

    1. In not redistered but lots of reg. Engineers i know asking me about tolerances what is the min and max req. I am not registerd but i read books of structural codes… i din not faiked in board exam coz i never tried yet to take the exam…

  5. Indeed, it is same with Chef who studied culinary and Chef who studied on their own. A qualification does not prove better than those who has none.
    I cook better than our head-chef who has qualification. therefore, non-license engineers may also have better ideas than those with license.

  6. Unlicensed Engineers can still be called Engineer in their own right. But they may encounter limitations like when you will be involved on multi-million dollar project and you will be designated as one of the key person. You may also encounter limitation when dealing with Government project and you are one of the key decision makers. In other country license don’t have any merit, They are result oriented, Give your best they pay you well. If they are not satisgied they sent you home.

  7. I graduated college in 1982, was licensed in 1987, and have been a P.E. ever since. There is a big difference between a “graduate engineer”, and a P.E., biggest difference is that school teaches you how to get through the system and obtain a degree. The P.E. Exams are structured somewhat like the problems in school, with a few real world problems thrown in. The bigger point here, is that college does not prepare the young engineer to work in the real world. Having the experience with real world problem solving, how things are really calculated in industry, and how engineers really design things are learned after college. The title professional engineer is not an honorary title, it seriously differentiates the licensed engineer from those without. Case in point, would a consumer of medical services choose to go to a doctor who was simply someone who graduated medical school, maybe even from a non-accredited school, or would you rather go to a licensed MD. By the same token, would a person who needed legal representation or legal documents trust just anyone who called himself a lawyer, or would it be better that this person be licensed. The education at the end of a four year degree is less than half what a competent engineer needs, the rest is learned on the job, hence the P.E. designation.

    Engineers who choose not to pursue a professional license, keep the profession lower paid, and give the impression that the difference is no big deal. For a person who is not a technical expert to choose to hire “an engineer”, this is the only legally acceptable method to differentiate between someone who attended some school, verses someone who has the training and experience to do the job. There really is a big difference. Engineers who complain about crazy hours, and less than professional pay, should take heed of licensing and pursue getting the license. I am a mechanical engineer by education and license, and I encourage all unlicensed engineers, to consider professional licensure, it is really the only way to differentiate the real engineers, from those with some sort fo engineering education.

    1. How about those Engineering Degrees that doesn’t have a Licensure exams? But at the end of their study and when they apply for employment they are called and given a position as Engineer with good compensations and benefits.

  8. I am also happy to hear that inspirational message… Thank you. I am also an Engineering graduate who is willing to work in my field as an environmental engineer…

  9. I am also happy to hear that inspirational message… Thank you. I am also an Engineering graduate who is willing to work in my field as an environmental engineer…

  10. first of all, it depends which country you are, if you are in Canada, you are not even allowed to call yourself an engineer if you are not licensed. in the U.S., non licensed are also called engineers but greater emphasis are given to a licensed which is often called a PE to differentiate.
    licensing has been placed for a purpose and I don’t think it should be taken lightly.

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