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Re: License (Business)

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Conrad Harrison wrote:

In Australia there is little formal legislation with respect to engineering,
one or two states have some form of registration. In the main what
legislation does exist mainly refers to the 4 year B.Eng and 3 years of
experience. There is no restriction on who can practice and provide
engineering services. However legislation may call up persons with national
professional engineers registration (NPER) for certification and checking of
proposals, alternatively state registration. There is no real plan stamping
or seals held by engineers, most building work is certified by Building

Mutual recognition agreements, such as the Sydney accord are largely based
on the Institution of Engineers Australia's (IEAust) criteria. The IEAust
however has basically stated that graduates with a B.Eng are professional
engineers, to distinguish from car mechanics, train drivers etc... In effect
they would be the equivalent of the US Engineer in Training (EIT), but that
is not the terminology adopted. Also whilst the rest of the world refers to
two year qualified Technicians, in Australia we refer to such persons as
engineering associates/officers, our industrial awards otherwise refer to
engineering technicians has having 1 to 1.5 years of education/training.

The IEAust is currently in the process of moving from state to state
attempting to implement legislation which protects the title of engineers,
and also which recognises NPER. So where states have registration systems,
moves are being made to achieve mutual recognition for those registered on
the national system.

Basically if you have engineering qualifications, then you can practice
engineering. There is little self-certification, so all engineering
calculations are reviewed by others: except in some states where some
smaller projects are permitted to be self-certified by registered engineers.

Many think the IEAust is an unwarranted cost, along with CPEng which is
relatively recent, NPER still more recent. So in effect all that require to
call one self an engineer is a B.Eng, experience not even really required.

In other words our mutual recognition agreements are not based on legislated
requirements in Australia, just IEAust membership which is voluntary. If an
employer has little interest in IEAust, then not required. Most job
vacancies typically refer to eligible for MIEAust membership, and do not
require it. The IEAust also has no real power, if someone breach's the code
of ethics, all that can really happen is they are expelled from membership,
they can continue as they like. Which I guess is why the IEAust would like
to see uniform legislation around each of the states.

Basically MIEAust indicates achievement of minimum experience requirements,
which use to be 6 years, now I think all grades reduced to 3 years. CPEng,
indicates a more thorough assessment of experience and competence, but is
only based to the writing of a work practice report and professional
interview, there are no examinations. Registration on NPER requires CPEng.

As for its value. I keep being reminded I am paying full fees, and have more
than enough years experience to upgrade,  I joined in 1995. Also what is in
a title, to the IIE I am an industrial engineer, to the IEAust I am a
mechanical engineering technologist, and to APESMA I am a professional
scientist: because I have a 3 year Bachelor of Technology. Also to update my
IEAust membership grade I can transfer from the mechanical college to the
structural college: since all my experience is biased towards structures.
And none of it provides added value to clients.

Most jobs refer to B.Eng and 5 plus years experience, usually with respect
to Australian codes. But most Australian codes are derivatives of British,
American, or EuroCodes. Up until the global financial crisis, and its impact
at the beginning of this year there was demand for overseas engineers in
Australia, but that has tapered off, as unemployment as started to grow.

In the main there is thus no legislated restriction which would prevent
someone with overseas qualifications from practising engineering in
Australia. Any problem would largely be the bias of the employer, and the
IEAust may be referred to for equivalence checking of qualifications.

That being said I do know people with masters degrees from overseas plus
experience, who have had to go back to university and do further study
before they could get employment. Not sure why, our degree programmes do not
typically cover codes of practice, other than as a passing reference, mainly
present theory.

Also as you say CPEng is more the equivalent of the US, PE license.

Conrad Harrison
B.Tech (mfg & mech), MIIE, gradTIEAust
South Australia

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This seems like a sort of "different path" than the U.S. embarked upon. I'm not sure of the relationship between the federal and state governments in Australia, but in the U.S. state sovereignty led to the system we have.

Back before "registration" (now almost universally changed to "licensure"), some time in the 1930s, there was no recognition of any sort of vetting of engineers beyond the four-year degree. In fact, in the civil engineering field it was very common for an "engineer" to have gained experience solely in the workplace - starting as a draftsman or survey party member/transitman/chief, e.g. - and yet have recognition as an engineer equivalent to one with a college degree.

This persisted until quite late in municipal and state engineering offices, in fact. When I was working my way through school in the late 70s-early 80s, many of the field AND office supervisors had titles such as "civil engineer," "senior civil engineer," etc., but had at most a state registration by exam as a Land Surveyor. Later, these titles had to be changed when the title acts came into existence.

It sounds like in some ways Australia is about where the U.S. states were in the 70s or so, and in some ways not comparable.

Whatever works for your country. That sovereignty thing - I'm pretty much sold on it.

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