P. Eng. work experience requirements

Last time, we discussed the overall requirements that need to be met to become a licensed professional engineer. In Ontario, you must:

  • be 18 or older
  • of good character
  • meet the work experience requirements set forth by the PEO
  • write and pass the Professional Practice Exam.

The first two don’t require much additional explanation, but the last two need to be elaborated upon. In this post, I’ll discuss the PEO’s work experience requirements. Remember that each province/territory has its own licensing body and that their requirements may differ somewhat from those presented here.

The official description of the PEO’s work experience requirements can be found on this webpage and in this detailed PDF. At the highest level, the requirement is for 4 years of “acceptable engineering experience” with at least 1 year of that experience in a Canadian jurisdiction under the supervision of a licensed engineer.

What is acceptable engineering experience?

So we’ve established that you need at least 4 years, but of what? Employment? Alas, it’s a tad more complicated than that.

This, unfortunately, doesn’t count

First, the experience needs to be relevant to the discipline that you studied. So if you graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, but are working in what would be considered a civil engineering role, you will likely have difficulty convincing the PEO that this work experience be counted.

Next, you need to demonstrate that your experience sufficiently covers 5 quality-based experience criteria set forth by the PEO. The criteria are:

  1. Application of Theory (analysis, design & synthesis, testing methods, and implementation methods)
  2. Practical Experience (function of components as part of larger system, limitations of engineering, significance of time, standards & regulations)
  3. Management of Engineering (planning, scheduling, budgeting, supervision, project control, risk assessment)
  4. Communication Skills (written work, oral reports, presentations)
  5. Social Implications of Engineering (value & benefits, safeguards, relationship with public, role of regulatory agencies)

This is a short summary of the 5 criteria, which are described in greater detail here. The first two, Application of Theory and Practical Experience, are mandatory components and you must prove that most (but not necessarily all) of your experience includes elements of these. Despite the implication of the “mandatory” components, the remaining three criteria (Management of Engineering, Communication Skills, and Social Implications of Engineering) are not optional. You need at least some experience in each category to be eligible for licensing.

When it comes time to apply, it is up to the applicant to prove that their experience meets these criteria by providing supporting documentation that describes, in reasonable detail, their experience. This is no small task. As any “efficient” engineer would, I’ve tried to find some examples to follow, but there either isn’t much out there or my Google skills are failing me. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. Once I actually start the application, I plan to provide my own example of how to document your experience (and we’ll eventually find out whether it’s an example worth following!).

When can I get this experience?

Most of your experience will be accrued after completion of your undergraduate engineering degree in the “real world”, working for a private or public organization. However, there are other types of experience recognized by the PEO:

  • Pre-graduation: be it co-op, internship, or summer job, if it falls under the 5 quality-based criteria and occurred after you passed the academic halfway point of your degree, it could count for up to 12 months of experience.
  • Postgraduate: “…applicants normally receive a one-year experience credit for successful completion of a postgraduate degree in engineering in the same discipline as their undergraduate degree”*

*If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll remember that my undergraduate degree was in Computer Engineering, while my Master’s degree was in Biomedical Engineering. Needless to say that language for the 12-month credit was a bit scary for me. I asked the PEO about this and while they were somewhat cryptic, I was left with the impression that the decision of whether my graduate degree qualifies will be left to the discretion of the reviewers. I’ll just have to do a good job describing it and trust that they’re reasonable people.

My nightmare: “With respect to your M.E.Sc. being acceptable engineering experience…”

Oh Canada?

We already mentioned that as part of the minimum 4 years of experience required,  the applicant “must acquire at least 12 months of acceptable engineering experience in a Canadian jurisdiction, under a licensed professional engineer (P.Eng.)“. This requirement is typically easy enough to achieve for Canadian-educated engineers, but can be a barrier to newcomers to Canada with foreign credentials. It’s a bit of a Catch-22 where a person without Canadian experience  faces a difficult time to find employment that will allow them to put Canadian jobs on their resume.

But wait! It seems that change may be on the way. The Ontario Human Rights Commission recently took the “position that a strict requirement for “Canadian experience” is discriminatory, and can only be used in rare circumstances“. This includes professional regulatory bodies! I haven’t seen a response from the PEO yet, but perhaps in the future this requirement will be lifted. As an aside, I’m personally undecided on whether this makes sense for the engineering profession. While I understand and sympathize with the extra barriers that Canadian immigrants face while trying to find employment in their field, I don’t feel that asking for 1 year of experience (out of a total of 4) is an onerous requirement.

Thanks again for reading. I should have said this in an earlier post, but I would love to hear from readers who find some value in this blog. Whether it’s questions, comments, suggestions, or even personal stories, I encourage people to leave a comment on the blog (comments are moderated) or to contact me directly (pengapplicant |at| gmail |dot| com). I would especially love to hear from licensed engineers or those aspiring to the P.Eng. to hear your stories.

14 Replies to “P. Eng. work experience requirements”

  1. Great blog, as someone who is just starting this process, this is a great reference. Looking forward to future posts as the application might take me a while, lol

  2. Hi,

    Thank you for your blog, it is a very helpful tool. We are thinking of immigrating to Canada, I understand that we can practice engineering under a P.Eng to get the one year Canadian experience, but my question is how is the job market there, how difficult is it to get a job without a licence for newcomers? is the salary good enough? Does working under a P.Eng mean an entry level job (something a fresher would have to do)?

    My husband has done his bachelors from India in electrical/electronics and has 10+years experience in Dubai, UAE. He has a senior position in his current job.

    Please guide.


    1. Hello. Thank you for reading the blog and asking a question, but unfortunately I am not in a position to provide a useful answer. This is something that will vary widely depending on location within Canada, the company in question, and many other factors. The only general advice I can offer is, if possible, for your husband to leverage his professional and personal networks in Dubai to find a connection to the industry in Canada and to talk to them about potential opportunities. Obviously, securing some employment leads before immigrating would be ideal, but may not be possible. All the best!

  3. Did you already have the 48 months of experience before you wrote the PPE? I have passed the PPE but have not yet attained the full 48 months.

    Do I have to submit a new experience record after the completion of 48 months, and then wait another 20 weeks while the PEO dicks around with my application? Do they only mail the referee forms AFTER the 48month deadline?

    I’m asking you because I dread calling the “admissions representative”. I’ve heard that the organization is a total disaster. I thought applying early was good…doesn’t look like it from what I’ve read about the PEO.

  4. Hi

    I am having 10 years of engg. experience in India in one Organization but in different departments such as Process Engineering, Production Management & Quality Management.

    Do i need to write engg. experience for all field or for any one will be OK since it was in one organization only?

    Another Question is : My Canadian experience is only 6 months as of now – Should i submit the application or wait for 12 months completion ???

    Thanks for the comprehensive detailing on PEO

    1. Hi Sahil,

      Unfortunately, your kind of engineering, as well as experience outside of Canada, is not something I know a lot about. I recommend checking out Gavin and PracticePPEExams, who is a true expert on the subject. He provides a paid service to help you, but comes highly recommended to me. I also recommend contacting the PEO directly.

      Good luck!

  5. Hello,

    Your blogs are extremely helpful. Thank you for all your detailed explanation.
    I’m wondering what kinds of trouble you have encountered regarding the difference of your undergrad degree and your master’s. I’m asking because I did my undergrad and master’s both in Chemical engineering. But after graduation all my experience is process engineering in automotive manufacturing, not related to Chemical engineering. PEO told me I have to explain how I filled the ‘gap’.
    If you can shed some light on this it will be deeply appriciated.


    1. Hi Ben,

      Thanks for the kind words. In my case, the transition, from Computer Engineering to Biomedical Engineering was rather simple; I was still using my Computer Engineering skills, but simply designing software and algorithms for medical applications. As you can see, the gap there is small or non-existent. In your case, it sounds like the two are less related. I have no experience in addressing that gap, but I would guess that you need to speak to how you were brought up to speed on process engineering, both from a theoretical and practical perspective, since your previous training was in chemical engineering. How to do that is beyond me and probably specific to each case. If you’re completely lost, I always recommend people get “professional” (pun intended) help with their experience record from Gavin at PracticePPEExams. Good luck!

  6. Hi,
    I am in the process of compiling my engineering work summary for PEO’s review having cleared my PPE exam recently. I find your blog very useful – filled with helpful tools and information. Kudos to your spirit and great intention to help fellow engineers like me.

    My question is regarding work experience gained outside Canada. I have worked for 3 years in Singapore as project engineer (in the same field as now – environmental engineering) but none of my supervisor/manager or colleagues were Professional Engineers -not even one. They were engineers with advanced degrees but were not registered under any professional body like PEO in ON. Will my experience there still count? I am currently working in Canada (also as Project engineer) and my supervisors/colleagues hold P.Eng license. I am concerned if I can use my experience abroad in addition to my experience in Canada to account for the 48 months of engineering experience and would like to know your opinion about this situation of mine. Thanks in advance.

  7. Hi there,

    So what should someone that has a PR and only a degree in engineering be looking for in terms of applying to jobs to gain experience? Has this been looked into or does anyone have suggestions?

  8. Does anyone know if or has anyone used work experience as a civil engineering technologist to count toward the mandatory practical experience requirement to obtain a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) designation in Ontario, Canada?

    I am currently a junior civil engineering designer with 2 years experience at a consulting firm in Ontario. I also have a master’s degree in civil engineering, so need one more year of experience before I can obtain a P.Eng. designation. I am thinking of taking a job at a municipality as a development engineering technologist.

    My only hesitation is whether the PEO will count this experience. It is certainly engineering related, but doesn’t sound as technical as some of the work I am doing right now; P.Eng. or EIT is not required for the position, only CET. Can anyone comment on if PEO would accept this as valid engineering experience?

  9. Hi,
    Quick question, I only need to pass Management of Engineering to be qualified for P.Eng in BC. I have no idea if there is any chance to do that as apprentice so I could finalized my P.Eng. Any recommendation?

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