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Engineering in Canada

The profession of engineering in Canada is rather unique in global terms, and in terms of regulation and organisation is distinct from both the UK and the USA.  

Professional Engineer, PEng

The first point is that the term Engineer is restricted to registered engineers (Professional Engineers, suffix PEng), and unlike most jurisdictions, this is enthusiastically enforced. If you use the term engineer in your title without registration, you will get a letter from the local regulatory body and ultimately you can end up in court. This can call for some creativity in terms of job title but the advice is to take this very seriously. Beyond use of the word engineer the law requires that all construction drawings, final reports, etc are stamped & sealed by a Professional Engineer of the respective discipline.

Registration as a Professional Engineer is done by the provincial bodies. The Washington Accord is an agreement that if an engineer is registered in one jurisdiction, the academic qualifications must be recognised by other jurisdictions, though additional requirements may be applied. Whilst Engineers Canada is a signatory of the Washington Accord, the provincial bodies do not consistently recognise this, so the transfer from CEng to PEng is not smooth.

One particular problem for CIBSE members is that building services is not recognised as an engineering discipline, so a typical CIBSE member will be assessed as a mechanical, buildings or electrical engineer. This can mean a slew of challenging exams are assigned particularly for those with degrees in Building Services which spread across those three disciplines.

Beyond academic qualifications there are two further requirements for registration: the need to spend one year practising in Canada supervised by a Professional Engineer; and to pass a Professional Practise & Ethics Exam. Hence the minimum period to become registered is one year.

The engineering associations exist to regulate the industry here, so knowledge sharing is carried out by bodies such as ASHRAE, IEEE and the IESNA which CIBSE members are likely to be familiar with.

Recognition of CEng in Canada

Our colleagues at the IMechE Canada Group have produced an excellent article on the subject of CEng vs PEng registration. The author Stephen Armstrong is qualified as both and has participated in the membership evaluation process for both IMechE and PEO. He is thus uniquely qualified to comment on the fundamental differences in the process from both a historical and practical perspective. Put simply this is the most definitive article I've ever read on the subject and essential reading for anyone considering coming to Canada, or already here and bewildered by the lack of recognition given to Chartered Status on ground. 

Please feel free to add your comments and queries to the article- Stephen will drop by to reply on an occasional basis to add to the discussion.

One other quirk of Canadian engineering is the Iron Ring and associated ceremony. Permanent residents and citizens can apply for this even if you studied abroad subject to you being in the process of applying for PEng. After completing the ceremony you can wear the Canadian Engineers ring, a distinctive stainless steel ring worn on the little finger of your primary hand. This is purely a tradition and is not linked to PEng registration, and whilst opinions vary on the ceremony and the tradition itself having a distinct, visible status symbol reserved for engineers is a positive thing for the profession.