Below are answers to some common questions about PEO and licensing. More concise information about PEO and licensing requirements can be found here.
Why should I become a P.Eng.?
If you are going to be responsible for work that is defined as professional engineering according to the Professional Engineers Act, a P.Eng. licence may be required by law.
Becoming licensed gives you the right to use “P.Eng.” after your name and “engineer” in your job title. Under the Professional Engineers Act, you may only use “engineer” in your job title if you hold a P.Eng. licence.
The P.Eng. licence also demonstrates that you have met a rigorous educational standard, have through a demanding, hands-on internship process, and are obliged to adhere to a strict code of ethics that puts the public interest first. All of these are valued within the engineering working community and society at large, awarding you credibility and recognition.
Licensing also puts you within the professional membership community of the other 75,000 licensed professional engineers organized across the province in 36 PEO chapters.
What is “professional engineering”?
The Professional Engineers Act defines professional engineering as “any act of designing, composing, evaluating, advising, reporting, directing or supervising wherein the safeguarding of life, health, property or public welfare is concerned and that requires the application of engineering principles, but does not include practising as a natural scientist.”
All three components must be present (the intellectual activity, the safeguarding issue, and the application of engineering principles) in order for an activity to be considered as professional engineering.
After graduation, can I call myself an engineer?
No. Legally speaking, you are an engineering graduate, not an engineer. Only holders of a P.Eng. license are legally permitted to use the title “P.Eng.” or the term “engineer” in their job title, or to use any other term, title or description that may lead to the belief that they are authorized to practice professional engineering. An engineering education is the first step to earning your license and eventually having the right to call yourself an engineer, but you may only use the term “engineer” in your job title once you have P.Eng. licence.
What kind of engineering work experience is required to obtain a P.Eng. licence?
PEO evaluates each applicant’s engineering experience against five, quality-based criteria:
1. Application of Theory
This is the most important criteria since it shows that the work you are doing could not be done by a person who had not studied engineering. It indicates that you are having an opportunity to use the engineering principles that you learned at university.
To be considered for licensing, your experience must include meaningful participation in at least one aspect of the following applications of theory:
- design and synthesis
- testing methods
- implementation methods
We expect that you can communicate to us which engineering principle you have used in any of the above areas and why it is applicable under the circumstances.
2. Practical Experience
Practical experience provides applicants with an appreciation of the fundamental roles of function, time, cost, reliability, reparability, safety and environmental impact in their work.
Practical experience should include such aspects as:
- function of components as part of a larger system;
- opportunities to experience and understand the limitations of practical engineering and related human systems in achieving desired goals;
- opportunities to experience the significance of time in the engineering process;
- opportunities to acquire knowledge and understanding of codes, standards, regulations and laws that govern applicable engineering activities.
‘Opportunities’ mentioned above means that you have been given experience in these areas, not just observed or read manuals. Having an understanding of the codes and standards means that you know how and why they were developed and can explain this to us when asked.
3. Management of Engineering
Management of engineering projects includes supervising staff, managing projects, being exposed generally to an engineering business environment, and managing technology from a societal perspective. Acceptable management components involve:
- project control
- risk assessment
This criteria is one that is used to identify progress. Usually, new grads are given very little experience in this area; however, as they acquire more experience, they should be given more and more responsibilities in each component.
4. Communication Skills
An opportunity to develop communication skills is an important experience requirement. This applies to communication in all areas of the work environment, including communication with supervisors, co-workers, government regulators, clients and the general public. For an applicant’s experience in this area to be acceptable, the applicant should have regular opportunities to participate in:
- preparing written work;
- making oral reports or presentations;
- making presentations to the general public.
5. Social Implications of Engineering
The social implications of engineering are an important aspect of engineering practice. A professional engineering work environment is one that heightens an applicant’s awareness of any social consequences, both positive and negative, of an engineering activity. While not every project or activity will have direct or immediate social consequences, an applicant’s work experience should nevertheless, instill an awareness of the:
- value or benefits of engineering works to the public;
- relationship between engineering activity and the public at large;
- safeguards in place to protect employees and the public and to mitigate adverse impacts; and
- significant role of regulatory agencies in the practice of engineering.
Experience in this area should foster an awareness of an engineer’s professional responsibility to guard against conditions dangerous or threatening to life, limb, property, or the environment, and to call such conditions to the attention of those responsible. This is not limited to the immediate work environment but should extend to the end users of the engineering work.
Does my work experience have to include all five quality-based criteria?
PEO does not expect that all of your jobs will provide experience in all five of the criteria. Your experience is taken as a whole and depends on the work you do. Sometimes, you may do work that satisfies only three categories, other times work that satisfies all five. There is one exception: as mentioned earlier, the most important of the criteria is “Application of Theory”. It clearly separates out the jobs that anyone can do from jobs that require the knowledge of someone who has studied engineering. Therefore, in all cases, you should be in a position to demonstrate that this was an integral part of your work.
The two mandatory components of acceptable engineering experience are Application of Theory, and Practical Experience.
In considering the eligibility of experience for licensing, PEO must err on the side of caution, in the public interest. Therefore, work experience that is not clearly professional engineering-related might be given only partial credit or entirely excluded from consideration.
Can a post-graduate degree such as a Master’s Degree count towards the practical experience requirement?
Completing of a post-graduate degree in engineering, in the same or reasonably similar discipline of engineering as your Bachelor’s, normally results in 12 months of credit towards the required 48 months of experience. You will not receive credit for studies in areas outside of engineering (e.g. business administration).
A post-graduate student may also get additional experience credit if the student works in conjunction with industry sponsorship, is directly supervised by a P.Eng. at the sponsoring company and the thesis research work has a distinct, and imminent practical application meeting PEO’s criteria. This work is not equivalent to industrial experience and is assessed separately.
What is pre-graduation experience?
PEO may allow for up to 12 months for pre-graduation experience toward the 48 months of minimum acceptable engineering experience requirement.
To be eligible, the pre-graduation experience must:
- be acceptable engineering experience, based on the five quality-based criteria;
- have been obtained after you have completed at least 50% of your courses; and
- be seen as a stepping stone to your professional development.
Each work-term must be documented and your supervisor must sign the documentation, which you will submit with your Application for License when you are ready to apply. PEO recognizes that pre-grad experience is not likely to be at the same level of intensity and responsibility as post-grad experience, therefore the acceptability feature is somewhat lighter than what is expected after graduation. However, PEO does expect to see that the pre-grad experience is a learning tool and will have aided in progressing the applicant’s understanding of the professional engineering working environment.
Is there a certain PEO form I have to use to record my pre-graduation experience?
PEO provides a form you can fill out. You don’t have to use this form, but it offers good guidance on how to prepare your summary. If you find it easier to type your work-term experience on ordinary paper that is acceptable – just remember that you want to communicate clearly to PEO how your work experience meets PEO’s experience requirements. Be certain to have your document signed by your supervisor.
Which work terms can I use for pre-graduation experience?
Any work term or summer job involving engineering, started after you have completed 50% of your program’s course load, may be eligible for consideration.
Does my supervisor have to be a professional engineer (P.Eng.) to sign off on my pre-graduation experience?
The supervisor who signs your pre-graduation work experience form does not have to be a professional engineer. However, if there is a question about the eligibility of your experience, having a P.Eng. supervisor will aid PEO in its evaluation.
Your work experience has to satisfy PEO’s experience requirements. Therefore, anything you can do to demonstrate clearly the appropriateness of your work experience can be valuable. For example, if your supervisor was not a P.Eng., but his/her manager was, you might consider having both your supervisor and his/her manager sign your pre-graduation experience summary.
When do I submit my Pre-graduation Experience Record to PEO?
Submit your Pre-graduation Experience Record at the time you apply for your P.Eng. licence. Do not wait until then to fill out the form, however. Fill out the form as soon as you have ended your work placement, so you can get it signed by your employer (and can accurately recall what exactly you worked on).
What are some examples of inadequate pre-graduation experience?
Sales or marketing jobs where you do not apply theory and/or engineering principles might not meet PEO’s experience requirement. A data entry job or simple programming or database manipulation, where you use a software package designed by someone else might not qualify if your work does not include engineering analysis and design.
Providing technical support for a software company while studying to become a civil engineer would likely not qualify as pre-graduation experience as it is not in your field of study unless you prove through your post-grad experience that you are practising in a field that combines the two streams.
SMP and EIT Programs
What is the Student Membership Program (SMP)?
The SMP allows you to register in PEO’s membership database as a student member. Be registering for the SMP, you’ll be able to keep in touch with the engineering regulatory association, and get a head start in establishing a connection to the engineering professional community. Signing up allows PEO to remind you of your next steps toward licensure as you progress through your education, as well as let you know about PEO events and opportunities in your area.
Can the SMP help me find employment?
No. The SMP does not have a job posting board. There are many options available for your job search. Your on-campus career services office may be able to help. You can also browse the internet to learn about companies and see which ones have summer or work-term programs. As well, you may consider signing up with the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), which offers online career services. More information on OSPE can be found below or on their website.
What is the Engineering Intern Training (EIT) program?
The EIT program provides guidance and assistance to engineering graduates as they acquire the 48 months of acceptable engineering work experience, including annual reviews of experience to ensure that an applicant is “on the right track” for licensing.
Benefits of the EIT program include:
- The opportunity to receive detailed, confidential, annual work experience reviews;
- Access to Engineering Dimensions, the association’s official journal;
- Opportunities to attend EIT seminars at PEO’s office or through sponsoring chapters;
- The opportunity to join a PEO chapter and attend chapter meetings;
- Email notices of events or items of interest pertaining to your development into a licensed engineer;
- Access to the License Holders Area of PEO’s website and the opportunity to participate in online discussions with other PEO members through the Forum;
- The opportunity to join the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and participate in their member-only services, such as insurance and investment plans.
As well, becoming an EIT demonstrates to employers that an applicant is serious about being licensed as a professional engineer.
To enroll in the EIT program, you must be an applicant for licensure – meaning you have met the academic requirements of licensure (e.g. graduated from a CEAB-accredited program). You can apply as soon as you graduate by filling out an application for licensure form. If you apply within the first six months of graduation, PEO will waive the licence application fee and your first year of EIT program fees through our Financial Credit Program, saving you approximately $400.
Complaints & Discipline
What happens when PEO receives a complaint involving engineering work?
PEO has the power to discipline professional engineers found guilty of professional misconduct. The association can also take action against unlicensed individuals who illegally describe themselves as engineers. Similarly, the association can prosecute companies or entities that illegally offer or provide engineering services to the public. PEO may hold a hearing, which works much like a court case: PEO is the prosecutor; the engineer is the defendant; the PEO Discipline Committee is judge and jury. If the Discipline Committee finds the engineer guilty, it imposes a penalty. The penalty might involve revocation or suspension of the license, payment of a fine and/or publishing of the licensee’s name in PEO’s official journal. Publishing of the licensee’s name is mandatory if the license is revoked or suspended.
What happens if someone uses the title “engineer” without being licensed?
If a person uses the title “professional engineer”, or “engineer”, or any other occupational title that might lead to the belief that the person is qualified to practice professional engineering, or uses a seal that leads to the belief that the person is an engineer, PEO will prosecute the matter through provincial court. Fines for people found guilty can range from $10,000 for a first offence, to $50,000 for repeat offences.
What is OSPE?
The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) is a member-interest advocacy body whose mandate is to advance the professional and economic interests of professional engineers in Ontario, and to look after non-regulatory matters for the profession. OSPE was created as a legal entity in April 2000 with the support of PEO and the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, the arm of government with the responsibility for regulating engineering in this province.
OSPE seeks to:
- advance the professional and economic interests of professional engineers;
- raise awareness of the role of professional engineers;
- enhance the profession’s image;
- and act as a strong voice on behalf of professional engineers in Ontario.
Can students join OSPE?
Engineers students in Ontario may enroll with OSPE. There is a discounted annual fee for student members.
What are the benefits of a student membership with OSPE?
Membership with OSPE will help engineering students develop insight into their chosen profession. As a member of OSPE, you will learn about issues of concern to professional engineers in Ontario and of initiatives undertaken to respond to these issues. OSPE also provides professional development and career services.