Regulation and Licensure in Engineering - Registration and Regulation - United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Engineering practice is not regulated in the UK and one does not need a license to work as professional engineer. The term "professional engineer" or "engineer", has no legal meaning in the UK and is sometimes used to describe mechanics, installers, and maintenance workers, e.g. Gas Safe Register engineer, or British Telecom - telephone engineer. An "Aerospace Satellite Engineer" in the UK could be a person with 3 weeks training, a ladder and a screwdriver that attaches a TV antenna dish to the side of a house or could be someone who has 8 years university education in pure science and engineering science and who designs, and builds spacecraft. A growing movement in the UK is to legally protect the title 'Engineer' so that only qualified professional engineers can use it, a DirectGov petition, has been started to further this cause. Unlike the USA and Canada, Engineering practice is not regulated in the UK - only titles achieved via academic qualifications and peer reviewed experience are regulated.

The qualifications to become a "professional" engineer in the UK vary widely. For example, qualifications for British Telecom professional engineer include having a driving license, being physically fit, and not being color blind. Chartered Engineers require University education plus monitored professional practice training. The Engineering Council UK is the regulatory authority for registration of chartered and Incorporated engineers in the United Kingdom. ECUK registration controls, by law, the award of engineering qualifications and titles Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer, and Engineering Technician, but has no authority to restrict engineering practice. The Chartered Engineer is recognized as the gold standard professional title for engineers under the Washington Accord. The Washington Accord has no legal authority in any country and is basically a broad guideline that establishes mutual recognition of engineering qualifications and professional competence. A Chartered Engineer is registered with the Engineering Council UK (the British regulatory body for engineers). Newly Chartered Engineers hold a Masters degree, and have gained professional qualifications through structured competency-based training and experience. The formation process (academic + internship/apprenticeship/graduate-training + peer-reviewed professional practice) of a Chartered Engineer spans typically takes 8 to 12 years. The title Chartered Engineer is protected by civil law. However unlike Canada and certain U.S. states the practice of engineering is not protected in law nor the use of the title "Engineer". So anyone in the UK can call themselves an engineer, which many semi-skilled repair people do. The UK media add this confusion by referring to the work of engineering as science and the role of the engineer as scientist. In addition the media refer to manual workers and skilled trades as engineers. This confusion adds to deep frustration in engineering identity in the UK. Numerous attempts at petitioning the government to address this problem have failed.

For registration as a Chartered Engineer, it is necessary for candidates to demonstrate that they are professionally competent through education, training and professional practice. Although many Chartered Engineers have non engineering degree qualifications, or honours degrees in engineering, science or mathematics, since 1997 it has been necessary to demonstrate University Masters-level knowledge and understanding, most commonly by completion of the 4 year undergraduate integrated MEng degree, or by gaining an appropriate masters degree following completion of a 3 year bachelor degree in engineering or a cognate subject.

Only the Chartered Engineer is entitled to register through the European Federation of National Engineering Associations as a European Engineer and use the pre-nominal of Eur Ing. In the UK Incorporated Engineers may use the post-nominals of IEng (and also e.g. MIET if appropriately registered with the IET as one of the 37 accrediting Engineering Council institutions). The Incorporated Engineer is a professional qualification that is acknowledged as a professional engineer in the UK through the Engineering Council of the United Kingdom and the European definition of title under 2005/36/EC. State-certified Engineer BVT is accredited by Engineering Council UK for IEng registration.

Another status is Chartered IT Professional (in full, Chartered Information Technology Professional) denoted by CITP is a professional certification awarded under Royal Charter http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Charter to IT professionals who satisfy strict criteria set by the British Computer Society (BCS),http://www.bcs.org/ which is the professional body for IT in the United Kingdom. In order to qualify for this award a person normally needs to have at least 10 years professional experience in IT, with evidence of experience at a Senior level (5) in the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA), have passed a professional competency examination and successfully completed a skills assessment interview with two BCS assessors.


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