After plenty of talk about what my motivations might be, it’s time to get down to business. Yet before we start filling out forms, it would be smart to make sure that I actually have a chance of being awarded the license. In other words: am I eligible? The rules for this are set by your provincial or territorial licensing body, a list of which can be found here. By virtue of being located in Ontario, I am under the jurisdiction of the Professional Engineers Ontario or PEO, but you’ll find that the requirements are very similar across all the Canadian licensing bodies. The PEO has an informative page entitled Requirements for Licensure that provides a good summary. The P. Eng. requirements in Ontario are that you must:
Be at least 18 years old
Check. Is this the Doogie Howser clause?
Be of good character
Umm, I once held the door for an elderly person, so check? This requirement is given without elaboration. In reality, this likely means that if you have a checkered past (think criminal, legal, etc.) that casts a shadow upon your professional competence or trustworthiness, the PEO reserves the right to deny your application on these grounds.
Meet PEO’s stipulated academic requirements for licensure (hold an undergraduate engineering degree from a Canadian Engineering Accreditation board (CEAB)-accredited program, or possess equivalent qualifications), and, if required, successfully complete any technical exams.
Now we’re getting into the meaty requirements! If you want to be an engineer, you obviously need to know your fundamentals. One way to prove that is by completing an undergraduate degree in an accredited Canadian program. Fortunately, I fall into this category and so I can check this off my list as well.
However, many aspiring engineers or engineers in Canada with foreign qualifications, do not hold an accredited degree. In their case, the PEO will assess their academic qualifications against the standards and, where they determine a need for it, assign technical exams to allow the candidate to confirm their knowledge. If you have more than 10 years of engineering experience (as defined by the PEO), then you may be eligible for relief from some of the exams, again at the discretion of the PEO.
Fulfill the engineering work experience requirements (demonstrate at least 48 months of verifiable, acceptable engineering experience, at least 12 months of which must be acquired in a Canadian jurisdiction under a licensed professional engineer)
This is a biggie. You need a minimum of 4 years of work experience. And not just any experience, but “acceptable engineering experience”, which is defined by the PEO. Fully describing this requirement is an article unto itself and it will be covered in an upcoming post. Suffice it to say that I believe that I meet these requirements (only the PEO can say with certainty whether I do), otherwise I wouldn’t be applying.
If you are in still in school or a new grad and you plan on eventually obtaining your P. Eng., I highly recommend you considering enrolling in the Engineer Intern (EIT) program (or Engineer-In-Training as other societies may refer to it). Basically, after graduation (having met the academic requirements), you can apply for your license, but remain an EIT until you have fulfilled your 48-month work experience requirement.
So, what’s in it for you? At a reduced cost (they waive some of the application fees, savings of ~$400), you not only gain access to a real and virtual network of engineers in industry, but more importantly you become part of an annual review system that verifies that any work experience you obtain qualifies towards your license application. The major benefit here, in my opinion, is that it forces you to document your work experience and have it reviewed by a supervising engineer in a timely fashion. As you have probably guessed, I did not participate in the EIT program. When it comes to documenting my work experience, there will be significantly more work involved in recalling and recording the details. On top of that, I will also have to reach out to former supervisors, some of whom I haven’t been in contact with for years, to sign off on that experience. Obviously, the EIT not only brings industry connections, but makes the application process a lot smoother.
Successfully complete PEO’s Professional Practice Examination (PPE). The PPE is a three-hour, closed-book exam on ethics, professional practice, engineering law and professional liability.
A test! It’s been a loooong time since I wrote an exam. This is another element that we will cover more extensively in future posts (heck, I’ll even post about studying for it at some point). You cannot write the test until your work experience has been verified, so consider this to be the final (pun intended) step. Notably and unlike the technical exams, the PPE tests applicant not only on knowledge about the listed topics (ethics, professional practice, engineering law), but the applicant’s ability to reason and write. You may have noticed that there has not been an explicit requirement for language competency (although I have seen this listed in other places), but rest assured if you struggle with writing in English, the PPE will be a challenge.
So there you have the major requirements that must be met in order to receive your P.Eng. license. I’m quite confident that, at a high level, I’ve got what it takes to move forward. At this point, ensuring that I’ve got 48 months of qualifying work experience is most important and that is what we’ll delve into next time.