The state may be getting tough or acting tough with the PE's etc. but they
definitely turn a blind eye to the illegal use of the title of plan check
engineer as it relates to the position of plan check engineer.
Many cities in California knowingly hire non degreed non licensed
individuals to work as the plan check engineer. One southern CA city even
has hired a senior plan check engineer position , when the individual did
not even had the 4 year engineering college degree yet alone be a PE.
For the past 10 years I have written called and e mailed the enforcement
division of the engineers board regarding the various city and governments
agencies hiring these individual ie the senior plan check engineers or plan
Apparently there are no hard and fast rules and the practice goes on until
this very day.
I do not think that we are even close to the Bar association's lobby as
mentioned. No attorney will allow some one who is not bar certified to work
as attorneys but the engineering community is faced with non licensed
individuals that use the tile plan check engineer or senior plan check
Funny thing is that it all happens in CA with its seismic zone 4?
From: Drew A. Norman, SE [mailto:DNorman(--nospam--at)dnormanse.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2001 4:36 PM
Subject: Re: P.E. vs certified civil engineer
With apologies to Bill Pohemus (maybe we are the State Bar Association), I
may, in attempting to steer the original inquirer towards a cautious course,
have ignited an inappropriate debate. As the, "someone," who posted the
California statute which, as you point out, "decidedly implied that I cannot
use the title "P.E." after my name in CA unless I am specifically registered
in CA," I feel obliged to clarify so that Fountain Conner will not be
afraid to attend seminars and/or corporate boondoggles in sunny California.
There are in fact several exceptions to the applicable prohibition against
the use of the "protected" titles (e.g., P.E.) by unregistered persons.
Feeling guilty, I went back to the State Board's web site (interested
parties may want to visit it, at http://www.dca.ca.gov/pels/ -- the complete
text of the relevant law as well as the current board rules and regulations
governing the practice of engineering in California is available on line in
.pdf form), and found the following:
In re the basic prohibition, the passage I originally quoted:
6732. Use of seal, stamp or title by unregistered person. It is unlawful
for anyone other than a professional engineer licensed under this chapter to
... in any manner, use the title "professional engineer," "licensed
engineer," "registered engineer," or "consulting engineer," or any of the
... [various protected branch titles]."
Plus a companion passage defining a crime in the section on enforcement:
6787. Acts constituting misdemeanor. Every person is guilty of a
misdemeanor: ... (f ) Who represents himself or herself as, or uses the
title of, registered civil, electrical, or mechanical engineer, or any other
title whereby that person could be considered as practicing or offering to
practice civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering in any of its
branches, unless he or she is correspondingly qualified by registration as a
civil, electrical, or mechanical engineer under this chapter. ... [or] ...
(h) Who uses the title, or any combination of that title, of "professional
engineer," "licensed engineer," "registered engineer," or the branch titles
specified in Section 6732, or the authority titles specified in Section
6763, or "engineer-in-training," or who makes use of any abbreviation of
such title that might lead to the belief that he or she is a registered
engineer, or holds a certificate as an engineer-in-training, without being
registered or certified as required by this chapter.
And this on structural engineers in particular (remember that California has
two tier licensing):
6736. Title of structural engineer. No person shall use the title,
"structural engineer," unless he is a registered civil engineer in this
State and, furthermore, unless he has been found qualified as a structural
engineer according to the rules and regulations established therefor by the
In re your speaking on this list server or Fountain's coming to a convention
and handing out his card, or introducing himself via resume as a P.E. (e.g.,
arguably making an "offer to practice") however:
6741. Exemption of nonresidents. Any person, firm, partnership, or
corporation is exempt from registration under the provisions of this chapter
who meets all of the following: (a) Is a nonresident of the State of
California. (b) Is legally qualified in another state to practice as a
civil, electrical, or mechanical engineer. (c) Does not maintain a regular
place of business in this state. (d) Offers to but does not practice civil,
electrical, or mechanical engineering in this state.
(You may want to note however that item (b) requires licensure in "...
another state ...." -- which I think means another of the fifty, not a
FOREIGN "state." This exemption might NOT therefore protect a member of a
say, Pakistani, institute, licensed to practice in say, Turkmenistan, who
attempted to solicit engineering commissions (studies, reports, etc.) in
California using the title, "P.E." I think the Board might take issue with
such an engineer's activities.)
In re somebody doing work that another (California licensed) P.E. would sign
for, I think the Board here would in such instance treat the person doing
the work as a "subordinate":
6705. Subordinate defined. A subordinate is any person who assists a
registered professional engineer in the practice of professional engineering
without assuming responsible charge of work.
And that person would then be exempt under the following provision:
6740. Exemption of subordinates. A subordinate to a civil, electrical or
mechanical engineer registered under this chapter, or a subordinate to a
civil, electrical or mechanical engineer exempted from registration under
this chapter, insofar as he acts solely in such capacity, is exempt from
registration under the provisions of this chapter. This exemption, however,
does not permit any such subordinate to practice civil, electrical or
mechanical engineering in his own right or to use the title, "civil
engineer" or "structural engineer" or "electrical engineer" or "mechanical
engineer" or "soil engineer.
But the person signing this subordinate's work could get in trouble if he
were not actually in "responsible charge" of its production:
6703. Responsible charge of work defined. The phrase "responsible charge of
work" means the independent control and direction, by the use of initiative,
skill, and independent judgment, of the investigation or design of
professional engineering work or the direct engineering control of such
projects. The phrase does not refer to the concept of financial liability."
So it sounds like the real world requirements here in California are pretty
much what you said you thought they ought to be (a P.E. is a P.E., but you
shouldn't go doing work in areas where you're not registered).
Drew Norman, S.E.
Drew A. Norman and Associates