Written by Karam Filfilan, Editor, Graduate Prospects, April 2012
Gaining your professional qualifications and becoming a chartered engineer is well worth the extra effort, especially as many employers will support your progress.
Chartered engineer status is the highest UK professional qualification requiring a Masters degree in the sector. Obtaining professional status is a long road and it takes a minimum of 8-12 years to go through the entire process. Consequently, many graduates opt to continue studying for the qualification whilst they work.
The title ‘engineer’ is not protected by law, so any tradesman, practitioner or worker can legally take the title. However, chartered engineer status and incorporated engineer (IEng) status are protected by law, with only the Engineering Council UK able to register the titles.
This means that achieving the chartered level gives you a certain status, providing customers and employers with the assurance that you have proven knowledge, understanding and competency in your field. It also shows a commitment to achieving the highest professional standards.
‘Membership of the Institution is a sought after professional qualification that is recognised internationally,’ says Darren Byrne, director of membership and education at the Institution of Structural Engineers.
‘Lots of engineers will have graduated from good universities, but how many will be able to provide independent confirmation of their professional competence some years after graduation?’
Beyond simply having some extra letters after your name, CEng status improves your career prospects and potential earnings. Chartered engineers can easily earn £50,000 plus per year and are more likely to take senior positions within companies.
The Engineering Council sets the UK Standard of Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) and also licenses the professional engineering institutions which assess the candidates looking to get accredited. There are over 30 licensed institutions complete with affiliates, so choose the institution which relates best to your field.
Before you even attempt to register for professional status, you will need certain qualifications. It is common for chartered engineers to be qualified up to Masters level, either through a four-year integrated MEng degree, or by taking an appropriate postgraduate degree follow the completion of an engineering undergrad.
If you haven’t followed this path, but would still like to train to become a chartered engineer, all is not lost. UK-SPEC try to make obtaining the professional standard as open to all as possible, and are aware of the various routes that people take to get into the engineering profession.
‘Because a Masters level of qualification is required to become chartered, an applicant with a BEng would need to undertake further learning either in the form of extra academic study or through work-based further learning programmes,’ says David Lloyd Roach, director of membership at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) .
‘We would encourage such applicants to become incorporated engineers first, and applicants who have not been able to take advantage of formally approved further learning programmes but who have acquired the knowledge to practice at chartered level can demonstrate this through the Technical Report Route,’ adds David.
The Engineering Council has developed a work-based MSc in professional engineering to help BEng graduates achieve chartered status, which is offered through Kingston University, Northumbria University, Staffordshire University and the University of Hertfordshire. This allows graduates who have come into engineering through non-academic routes to get the necessary training and education to bring them up to speed to be able to study for professional status.
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