An engineer is a person professionally engaged in a field of engineering. Engineers are concerned with developing economical and safe solutions to practical problems, by applying mathematics and scientific knowledge while considering technical constraints. As such, the work of engineers is the link between perceived needs of society and commercial applications. Some consider this profession to be the link between art and science.

Role in society

In addition to design and research and development, many engineers work in testing, production, or maintenance. These engineers supervise production in factories, determine the causes of component failure, and test manufactured products to maintain quality. They also estimate the time and cost to complete projects. Some move into engineering management or into sales. In sales, an engineering background enables them to discuss technical aspects and assist in product planning, installation, and use. Supervisory engineers are responsible for major components or entire projects.

Engineers use computers extensively, for the production and analysis of designs, the simulation and testing of the operation of a machine, structure, or system, and the generation of part specifications. Many engineers also use computers to monitor product quality and control process efficiency.


In some countries of Continental Europe and Latin America and also in Turkey, the title is limited by law to people with an engineering degree, and the use of the title by others (even persons with much more work experience) is illegal. In Italy the title is limited to people who, besides holding an engineering degree, have passed a professional abilitation exam (Esame di Stato). In Portugal, professional engineer titles and accredited engineering degrees are regulated and certified by the Ordem dos Engenheiros. In the Czech Republic the title "engineer" (Ing.) is given to people with a (master) degree in chemistry, technology or even economics (the last one is due to the historical reasons and tradition).

Laws exist in all U.S. states, Canada and in South Africa which limit the use of several engineer titles, particularly the title of "Professional Engineer," and often also titles indicating a specific, regulated branch of engineering, such as "civil engineer" or "mechanical engineer." Most U.S. states prohibit unlicensed persons from calling themselves an "engineer" or indicating branches or specialities not covered by the licensing acts. The IEEE's formal position on this is as follows:

"The title, Engineer, and its derivatives should be reserved for those individuals whose education and experience qualify them to practice in a manner that protects public safety. Strict use of the title serves the interest of both the IEEE-USA and the public by providing a recognized designation by which those qualified to practice engineering may be identified. The education and experience needed for the title, Engineer, is evidenced by

  • Graduation with an Engineering degree from an ABET/EAC accredited program of engineering (or equivalent*), coupled with sufficient experience in the field in which the term, Engineer, is used; and/or
  • Licensure by any jurisdiction as a Professional Engineer.
  • A degree from a foreign institution (or the total education when a person holds a graduate degree in engineering but no accredited B.S. in engineering) can be evaluated through a service offered by ABET."

Despite these laws, many individuals with no formal education in engineering are still often called engineers in industry because of a long work history of engineering work. The legal situation regarding the title of "engineer" in Canada is unsettled. (See Professional Engineer for more details).

In the United Kingdom, the title of "engineer" is unregulated and is increasingly used to describe trades such as electricians, motor mechanics, gas fitters etc in addition to those engaged in professional engineering.

The word "technologist" is sometimes used synonymously as it derives from the prefix techno- and the suffix -ologist, hence, someone who studies technology. This applies particularly to those European countries with laws regulating the use of the title "engineer." A Technologist supports professional engineers in N America. Technologists can become professional engineers with further academic study - usually 2-3 years of an engineering degree. Regulation of the Technologist title is covered by the Sydney Accord. A UK Incorporated Engineer is equivalent to a Technologist as defined by the Sydney Accord. The I.Eng qualification is administered by the Engineering Council of the United Kingdom.

Education, training & skills

People who work as engineers typically have an academic degree (or equivalent work experience) in one of the engineering disciplines.

Engineers must also have skillset and methodology to problem solving that helps in making effective use of their knowledge base.

Engineering education in the USA

In the United States engineering degrees range from a Bachelor's degree in sciences or engineering (4 years), to a Master's in sciences or engineering (adding 1 or 2 years depending on the university), to a Doctor of Engineering which entails completing original research. Bachelor's and Master's degrees are generally recognized as sufficient qualification in the American labor market. Doctors often go on to teach in engineering schools.

Many American engineering degrees are respected worldwide, from institutions such as U.C. Berkeley, Drexel University, Columbia, Johns Hopkins University, Cornell, Illinois, Kansas State, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers, Penn State, Southern California, Stanford, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Texas A&M University, Texas, and U.C. San Diego which have sizable engineering schools. Institutes of technology, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Colorado School of Mines, Caltech, Georgia Tech, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Purdue University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute specialize in engineering education.

As US universities are generally private, the education practices at each differ greatly. Certain schools, such as Columbia University, have a core course program that requires many non-engineering related classes. American engineers are generally more specialized into a certain realm of engineering, such as Civil Engineer or Electrical Engineer, than their European counterparts. The generalist degree exists, but is very rare, and tends to lead to graduate studies in more specialized engineering fields. The respectability and status of a degree depends largely on the institution that conferred the degree.

Engineering education in Canada

In Canada, there are 40 institutions offering 239 engineering accredited programs delivering a Bachelor's degree after a term of 4 years. Many schools also offer graduate level degrees in the applied sciences. "Accredited" means that the engineers having successfully followed one of these programs have the possibility to obtain their licences. This a specificity of the Canadian system as the engineers need a licence to engage in the profession. Among the 40 institutions a number are renowned worldwide : University of British Columbia, University of Waterloo, McGill University, University of Toronto, Dalhousie University, University of Calgary, McMaster University and Royal Military College of Canada just to name a few. Graduateshotline ranks the top engineering schools in Canada. However, every university offering engineering degrees in Canada needs to be accredited by the CEAB (Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board), thus ensuring high standards are enforced at all universities.

The engineering faculties at most Canadian universities tend to attract a wide range of students from Canada.

The procedure to obtain the licence is as follows:

  • Be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or on a valid workpermit / visa.
  • Have a Bachelor's degree from an accredited Canadian institution or from a recognized foreign university or other higher institution. The Bachelor's degree delivered in Europe is not adequate since it is only a 3 year term. Thus for European engineers wishing to obtain a licence in Canada, it is better for them to consider they need a complete course including the Master's degree (2 additional years so making 5 years in total). The engineer's degree obtained from universities in Europe after completing 4 years of studies is valid.
  • Must work at least 12 months in a Canadian company (supervised by a licenced senior engineer). The term varies between provinces and can be as long as four years.
  • Be of good reputation.
  • Be fluent in English (French in Quebec, English or French in New Brunswick)

The engineer's licence is only valid in the province of delivery. There are however agreements between the associations to ease mobility.

Public Notice: All engineers in Canada offering engineering services to the public are required to be licenced by law. Those who are not licenced must work under the supervision of the licenced engineers. Here are a few cases which show why the word engineer is reserved for licenced practitioners only. For detail, follow these links and Calling yourself an engineer when you are not licenced is a very dangerous thing to do. It may cause you a lot of trouble. So, know your rights and beware.

Engineers education in Europe

See also European Society for Engineering Education

Finland's system is derived from Germany's system. Two kinds of schools are recognized, the universities and the AMKs (literally, "vocational colleges").

Traditionally, universities award only five-, to six-year Master's level degrees called diplomi-insinööri ("engineer with university diploma"). The degrees are awarded by engineering faculties in universities (in Oulu and Vaasa) or by separate universities of technology (in TKK, Tampere, Lappeenranta). The degree is a scientific, theoretical taught Master's degree. It qualifies for further study into Licentiate or Doctorate. Because of the Bologna process, the degree tekniikan kandidaatti ("Bachelor of Technology"), corresponding to three years of study into the DI degree, has been introduced.

The AMK's are municipally administered schools that traditionally award 3.5-, to 4.5-year vocational degrees called insinööri (amk). The aim of the degree is professional competency with less emphasis on scientific study. Although they may be called "Bachelor's degrees" in English, Finnish universities do not recognize them as equal to tekniikan kandidaatti but require approximately one year of additional study. Recently, AMK's have also began awarding a higher AMK degrees, designed for AMK-engineers already involved in the working life (at least two years of professional experience). AMK's do not award Licentiates or Doctorates.

In France, the engineering degree is delivered by "Grandes Écoles d'Ingénieurs" upon completion of 3 years of Master'studies. The Écoles typically recruit undergraduate students from CPGE (2 or 3 years after the baccalaureate), even though some of them include an integrated undergraduate cycle. Hence graduate engineers in France have studied a total of 5 years after the baccalaureate. To be able to deliver the Master of engineering degree , an École Master 's curriculum has to be validated by the Commission des Titres d'Ingénieurs (Commission of the Engineering Title). It is important for the external observer to note that the system in France is extremely demanding in its entrance requirements (numerus clausus), and much more elitist than various other systems. In fact, being a graduate engineer in France is considered as being near/at the top of the social ladder, above all when you're graduate from École Polytechnique, École Centrale Paris, École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris or École nationale supérieure des télécommunications.
In Germany, the engineering degree is either delivered by Universities, Technical Universities or Fachhochschulen, a kind of university possibly best described as three-year colleges as opposed to full universities. Students receive first a baccalaureate degree (3 years of studies) followed by a Master's degree (2 years of studies) according to the principles of the Bologna declaration. The quality of German engineering expertise has long been much vaunted, especially in the field of Aerospace engineering. This is supported by the degree to which the various theories governing aerodynamics and structural mechanics are named after German scientists and engineers such as Leonhard Euler and Ludwig Prandtl.
The Netherlands

In the Netherlands there have always been two paths to study engineering. The HTS or higher vocational technical schools awarded a practically orientated degree and the title ing. after four years study. The university's offered a more academically oriented degree and the title Ir. after five years study.

This changed in 2002 when the Netherlands switched to the Bachelor-Master system. This is a consequence of the Bologna process. In this accord 29 European countries agreed to harmonize their higher education system and create a European higher education area.

In this system the higher vocational technical schools award a bachelor degree and the title BEng after four years study. The university's with engineering programs award a bachelors degree and the title BSc after the third year. A university bachelor is expected to continue his education for one or two more years to earn his masters degree and the title MSc. A vocational bachelor may be admitted to a university master degree program although often they are required to take additional courses. The higher vocational technical schools have started to develop master degree programs specifically for their students. This slightly awkward situation is expected to disappear thanks to the European harmonization process.


In Turkey, engineering degrees range from a Bachelor's Degree in engineering (for a 4 year period), to a Master's Degree (adding 2 years), and to a Doctoral Degree (usually 4 - 5 years).

The title is limited by law to people with an engineering degree, and the use of the title by others (even persons with much more work experience) is illegal

Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (UCTEA) was established in 1954 and separates engineers and architects to professional branches, with the condition of being within the framework of laws and regulations and in accordance with the present conditions, requirements and possibilities and to also establishes new Chambers for the group of engineers and architects, whose professional or working areas are similar or the same.

UCTEA is maintaining its activities with its 23 Chambers, 194 branches of its Chambers and 39 Provincial Coordination Councils. Approximately, graduates of 70 related academic disciplines in engineering, architecture and city planning are members of the Chambers of UCTEA.


Chamber of Agricultural Engineers Chamber of Architects Chamber of Chemical Engineers Chamber of City Planners Chamber of Civil Engineers Chamber of Electrical Engineers Chamber of Environmental Engineers Chamber of Food Engineers Chamber of Forestry Engineers Chamber of Geophysical Engineers Chamber of Geological Engineers Chamber of Interior Architects Chamber of Landscape Architects Chamber of Marine Engineers Chamber of Mechanical Engineers Chamber of Metallurgical Engineers Chamber of Meteorological Engineers Chamber of Mining Engineers Chamber of Naval Arch's and Marine Eng's Chamber of Petroleum Engineers Chamber of Physics Engineers Chamber of Surveying Engineers Chamber of Textile Engineers

United Kingdom
In the UK, like in United States and Canada, the engineers are trained in universities some of which are renowned worldwide (Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College). Many engineering courses are assessed and approved by the Professional Institutions reflecting the subject covered; IMechE, IET, ICE, IStructE etc. The degree then counts in part to obtaining Chartered engineer Status after a period of practising, professional review and, if required, further exams to then become a Member of the relevant professional body. The term 'Chartered Engineer' is regulated by Royal Assent and not allowed to be used by other professions; the awarding of this status is devolved to the professional institutions by the Engineering Council.

In Britain, Engineers can study for a 4 year period on an Undergraduate Masters and obtain an MEng, this is not a 3 year undergraduate degree with an additional year, but a program that is designed from the outset to be 4 years. Some universities allow a student to opt out after 3 years and receive a bachelor's degree, whilst some universities award both a bachelor's and a master's degree at the end of the 4 years. Many courses include a year in industry, which is usually between the second and third years of an undergraduate degree course.

Alternatively students can receive first a baccalaureate degree (3 years of studies) followed by a 1 year Master's degree.

Engineering education in India

India has many Engineering colleges,most widely recognized of which,are the IITs. The Indian Institute of Technology has, at present, which are listed below.

The seven IITs are located in Kharagpur, Bombay, Madras, Kanpur, Delhi, Guwahati, and Roorkee. Also included in this list is IT-BHU.

With the plan to set up eight more IITs in the states of Rajasthan, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab, and the conversion of IT-BHU to an IIT, the total number of IITs will be increased to 16.[2] Six of the eight proposed new IITs, namely, Rajasthan, Bihar (Patna), Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad), Orissa (Bhubaneshwar), Gujarat (Gandhinagar) and Punjab, are functional as of June 2008 and admitting students for the 2008-'09 academic year.[3] All IITs are autonomous universities that draft their own curricula, and they are, with the exception of IIT Kanpur, members of LAOTSE, an international network of universities in Europe and Asia. LAOTSE membership allows the IITs to exchange students and senior scholars with universities in other countries.[4] Admission to undergraduate B.Tech and integrated M.Tech programs are through IIT-JEE (the Joint Entrance Examination) in which around 300,000 students appear annually out of which only 5,500 get selected. Admission to most postgraduate courses in IITs is granted through various written entrance examinations: GATE (for M.Tech.), JAM (for M.Sc.) and CEED (for M.Des.). The admission for Ph.D. program is based primarily on a personal interview, though candidates may also have to appear for written tests. The IITs are also well known for their special reservation policy, which is significantly different from the one applied in other educational institutions of India. For details of colleges in India see: Indian Institutes of Technology and Engineering colleges of India

Other meanings

Operating and maintaining equipment

The term 'engineer' is also often used to describe a technician or a person that mends and operates machinery or engines. In that use, it usually does not refer to a person with an academic engineering degree or an engineering license. For example, in the United States a railroad engineer denotes the operator of a locomotive, a ship's engineer denotes the operator of the steam engine on a steamship, a broadcast engineer maintains broadcast facility operations, and a stationary engineer is normally responsible for a boiler plant and/or stationary steam engine. The term "field engineer" or "customer engineer" is often used to describe manufacturers' (or third party) supplied installers and/or maintainers of (complex) equipment at a user's site.

In firefighting, the term "engineer" refers to a firefighter whose assignment is to drive the fire apparatus and, if it has an on board water supply, to remain with the engine and operate the pumps so that the firefighters using the hoses have sufficient water to extinguish the fire.

Non-academic professional certification

The term "engineer" may also be used to describe holders of some forms of professional certification other than university degrees, such as (but not limited to) Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, Certified Novell Engineer, Red Hat Certified Engineer and so on.

In Canada, the usage of the term "engineer" to describe holders of professional certification is not legally permitted. The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers mounted an extended campaign to get Microsoft to renounce use of the word "engineer" in the title of their certification. A 2001 reader survey by Microsoft Certified Professional magazine found that over half of respondents supported changing the name of the MCSE to remove the word "engineer".

Military engineers

An army military engineer is a member of any branch of the armed forces responsible for the design and construction and also the destruction of offensive, defensive and logistical structures for warfare. This term is used in military units throughout the world and has been used since ancient times, extended in modern terms to include the laying and disarming of minefields and booby traps.

The Engineering Officer in larger ships, and the senior engineering sailor (typically a Chief Petty Officer) is called the Chief Engineer. In smaller ships without an Engineering Officer the Chief Engineer runs the engineering department. To facilitate brevity of communication in an operational shipboard environment, the Chief Engineer on United States Navy vessels is colloquially referred to and addressed as "The CHENG", or simply "CHENG".

In the British Merchant Navy, the Chief Engineer is a rank equivalent to the Senior Engineering Officer on a US ship.

See also

Lists of notable engineers by discipline

Other related lists

Licensing and registration


External links

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