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CEng Path Query: Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?

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CEng Path Query: Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?

Posted by quantumleap on Nov 7, 2019 2:50 pm

Hi,

 I am doubtful about the path that I should be in, inorder to achieve CEng. I work as an engineer in a consultancy with over 5 years doing technical work, based on site for rail projects, moving forward I am offered a role as project manager which is less technical. I want to take it to develop myself as a good all rounder rather than a specialist. My worry is would taking the project manager role hinder my chances of attaining CEng as it will atleast be a year out of a pure technical role? My current plan is to apply by 2022.

Many Thanks,
Kind Regards,
QuantumLeap
 

Re: CEng Path Query: Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?

Posted by Andy Millar on Nov 7, 2019 6:55 pm

Hi,

You'll only get fairly generic advice here as everybody's path is so personal. Best thing is to contact the IET Mentoring service https://www.theiet.org/career/professional-development/mentoring/apply-for-a-mentor/ - that web page explains neatly how they are there to help for people precisely in your position. It's completely confidential.

But to give a general answer, let's turn this around, why are you considering applying for CEng (at some point in the future)? Presumably because you want to work in CEng type roles. Ok then, does this career path take you towards CEng type roles? If so then that's answered the question - if after this year (or however long it is) you feel that you'll be in a position to apply for jobs where a CEng is required then that also suggests you're likely to have the right competences at that point. If you end up moving into management to the extent that you're no longer taking significant technical responsibility then you wouldn't be looking to apply for CEng anyway - it (very simplistically) wouldn't be relevant.

There are no hard and fast rules whatsoever for how you get to the point where you can show you have met all the CEng competences. Every case is very, very different. So it's my usual answer - don't panic! Do what's right for your career, and get Mentor and, later on, PRA advice as to how you show that your personal path has got you to the point of application.

Good luck,

Andy

P.S. If you're a graduate who's been working in rail consultancy for five years you may find you're a lot nearer the point of application than maybe you think you are. But again it all depends on your personal history, so that's for a confidential discussion with a Mentor or PRA
Andy Millar CEng CMgr IET Mentor / IET PRA uk.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

Re: CEng Path Query: Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?

Posted by Simon Barker on Nov 7, 2019 8:51 pm

I would say that the reverse is true.  If you have a good read of UKSPEC (https://www.theiet.org/media/2543/ukspec-ceng-competences.pdf), then it's a requirement that you have managed projects.  That doesn't mean you have to have "manager" in your job title, but you need to show some appropriate management experience.

That's actually on of the main differences between IEng and CEng.

Re: CEng Path Query: Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?

Posted by Andy Millar on Nov 8, 2019 7:12 am

Hi Simon,

Not necessarily! Be careful, that's one of the CEng myths - you'll often find a CEng technical expert working for an IEng project manager. You do have to have taken technical management responsibility to achieve CEng, but that's not the same as saying that you have to have been a "project manager". Or any sort of manager.

That said, being a project manager can be one way of showing that you have met that competence.

This is why the individual advice is so important...

I've got to dash out now but I'll post more on this later unless someone else does!! It's a very important topic. But VERY simplistically: Project Manager = IEng, Technical Authority = CEng. Not the other way around.

Thanks,

Andy
Andy Millar CEng CMgr IET Mentor / IET PRA uk.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

Re: CEng Path Query: Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?

Posted by Alasdair Anderson on Nov 8, 2019 8:25 am

Simon,
As Andy says, this is one of the myths that the IET are forever trying to dispel. If you look at the potential examples quoted in UK Spec* then it says:
Carry out/contribute to staff appraisals. Plan/contribute to the training and development of staff. Gather evidence from colleagues of the management, assessment and feedback that you have provided. Carry out/contribute to disciplinary procedures.
If you are the lead technical authority for a project but someone else is the line manager, you will still have responsibility for the technical development of the engineers on the project and at appraisal time will be discussing their performance with their line manager.
Alasdair
*OK, I admit that these are only examples and at first sight the requirement for C3 does appear to indicate management, but the examples give an opportunity to understand how the requirement is expected to be interpreted.

Re: CEng Path Query: Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?

Posted by Roy Bowdler on Nov 8, 2019 3:59 pm

These forums are pretty busy, so taking a day out yesterday, I nearly missed the topic. However, I did discover to my surprise and delight on turning up here https://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/thinktank/about at just after 3pm offered excellent value for only £3, “twilight rate”.

My own answer to the question  “Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?” is simply, no!  

UK-SPEC is a generic standard arrived at by compromise and consensus, between different expert opinions about what should represent the “terminal threshold” for a Chartered Engineer. Prior to UK-SPEC the primary determinant of this threshold was having met an “Academic Requirement”, followed by a period of “Initial Professional Development” and a further period of “Responsible Experience”.  Twenty years ago this would be a 3 year accredited degree, plus 2 years IPD, plus at least 2 years RE, or a “mature candidate procedure” for “suitable people” aged over 35. The responsible IEE committee at one time had lists of engineer grades from large employers, to help set the responsibility standard. There are earlier iterations going back 50+ years resulting from negotiations between individual professional bodies, like the IET predecessor IEE.  

It is the responsibility of each Professional Engineering Institution, licensed by Engineering Council to interpret the generic UK-SPEC standard for its own use. An analogy could be drawn here with the laws of Rugby Union, different referees may have slightly different interpretations.  There are audits to endure compliance with rules, exchanges of representatives between different institutions to monitor consistency and review of the standard itself every five years (one is currently in progress).

A large number of people are actively involved in this, almost all are volunteers and the IET accredits some of them as Professional Registration Advisors. They make a particular effort to be well-calibrated against the IET assessment process in the light of recent decisions. Many other existing registrants, try to keep abreast of developments , but may easily become out of date with current practice, or prefer their own opinion to IET policy.    

To ensure fairness and plurality of views, the IET organises for each member to be assessed for registration by a number of people, working in several stages, who have a good understanding of practice in the area of work being considered. Some small institutions only assess in a narrow field and a handful of experts are sufficient. The scale and scope of the IET uses a cast of hundreds (actually well over a thousand).

It is best to think of the IET assessors as “a jury”, they have to work within the law, including some quite detailed confidential guidance about acceptable thresholds for success.

So to rephrase the question; is UK-SPEC interpreted by IET Juries to give greater value to technical expertise, relative to engineering project management? On balance I would say yes.  IET policy evolved over many years, regards the A&B competence areas of UK-SPEC as distinctive to Engineers and the C to E competences as being partly shared in common with other professionals. All competences must be achieved to a minimum standard and have nominal equal value, but the award is Chartered Engineer , so someone has to interpret your achievement as “engineering” and for your contribution to be comparable to their expectations of a Chartered Engineer, not I should stress a 20 year veteran CEng who may be well-past the threshold.  

Many experienced engineers become more managerial in mid-career and they have may find it easier to demonstrate important technical attributes, during the time when they are more technically focused. There is enormous variety in the practice of engineering at Chartered standard and beyond, so there is much scope for discussion, debate, misunderstanding and even myths.

2022 should be into the implementation of whatever comes from the current UK-SPEC review, so it would be unwise to focus too much on UK-SPEC.  I would even go so far as to state that someone should be very wary of aligning their career to UK-SPEC, they are very many career pathways that it doesn’t represent particularly well and sectors where it isn’t considered very important or relevant.  I would strongly recommend CEng if you can get it, but don’t pass by a good opportunity to progress your career , perhaps into senior management?    


 

Re: CEng Path Query: Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?

Posted by Andy Millar on Nov 10, 2019 5:51 pm

Thanks Roy and Alasdair!

Just a couple of thoughts on Roy's post

Roy Bowdler:
2022 should be into the implementation of whatever comes from the current UK-SPEC review, so it would be unwise to focus too much on UK-SPEC.  I would even go so far as to state that someone should be very wary of aligning their career to UK-SPEC, they are very many career pathways that it doesn’t represent particularly well and sectors where it isn’t considered very important or relevant.  

That said, UK-Spec is (IMHO) pretty good guidance as to what employers are actually looking for in their staff at the relevant level, irrespective of whether they have actually achieved registration. Employers need engineers who can work in a team, communicate at some basic functional level, have some appreciation of commercial realities, won't land the employer in court through unethical behaviour etc etc. So actually I'd disagree with Roy a bit here, yes the CEng requirements might change, but broadly benchmarking yourself against UK-Spec is still going to help your career.

I would strongly recommend CEng if you can get it, but don’t pass by a good opportunity to progress your career , perhaps into senior management?    

Or even do both 😀 Despite my original comments, CEng isn't a bar to senior management. But equally neither is IEng (or NoEng!!!!)

Cheers,

Andy
Andy Millar CEng CMgr IET Mentor / IET PRA uk.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

Re: CEng Path Query: Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?

Posted by Roy Bowdler on Nov 11, 2019 10:11 am

Andy,

I agree that UK-SPEC is in essence a good general guide. I also agree that if someone is able to demonstrate the CEng requirements, that will almost always offer some value to their career. In certain sectors and following certain career paths it is almost essential, since many employers value CEng highly and someone without it is very likely to be out-competed for technical leadership roles.  This particularly applies where professional consultancy services are being offered, or “sign off authority” being exercised, since the employer can show external verification of their consulting engineer’s capability.  However, CEng has been narrowly interpreted and positioned as appropriate only for “an elite” of engineers. The effect of this has been to place it “out of reach” for many competent experienced professionals. So huge swathes of technical employment, that don’t have a tradition of recruiting graduates from Engineering Council accredited degree courses and aligning their career development, with Professional Engineering Institution (PEI) recommendations, are estranged from CEng. 

UK-SPEC was developed to represent three different types of overlapping technical professional; Eng Tech, IEng and CEng.  However, under the pressure that very few people were finding the first two attractive or value for money, they were positioned as subsidiary “stepping stones” to the “popular version” CEng.  The change didn’t make much difference, although given the small numbers for the “lesser” categories, the positive support of one very large employer can give the impression of an improvement.

The risk that the questioner has identified is real, in that they could lose the opportunity to gain CEng by migrating onto a more commercial or managerial pathway. There are many examples of successful transitions of this nature and senior leaders who were first CEng in early career.  There are also many examples of transitions into commercial and managerial leadership that occurred without CEng first. Ultimately, in the federation of Engineer’s clubs affiliated to Engineering Council  “full respect” and influence is reserved for CEng. So if that is where you want to be, then get CEng.  

Where that influence isn’t strong, other attributes may be held in higher value and esteem.  There are many chief executives and other senior business leaders who followed pathways other than the CEng one, including those who trained, through apprenticeships or technical/scientific degrees that didn’t meet the narrowly drawn “requirements” of PEI’s.  Once you get beyond a certain point, your achievement and seniority becomes a more important “personal advertisement”. There is also nowadays a very wide market of memberships/professional recognitions, both individual or for a senior leader organisational (e.g. Trade Associations). Chartered Engineer is one of the longer standing of personal recognitions (nearly 100 years) and obviously very important to the IET.

Re: CEng Path Query: Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?

Posted by quantumleap on Nov 13, 2019 4:51 pm

Thanks for all the replies!

I agree, getting into leadership roles is almost impossible now without having a CEng especially in consultancies. It might not have been before but I can only work upto a sen. engineer level without achieving CEng status. It has become something qualification criteria someone must achieve just like a degree.

Regarding the PM role, I have decided to not take it but rather try and take up an engineering management like role within my department.
 

Re: CEng Path Query: Am I only restricted to technical roles if I want to achieve CEng?

Posted by Alasdair Anderson on Nov 14, 2019 9:38 am

Hi Quantumleap,
Many thanks for letting us know your thinking following the advice. I will add one final comment.
You have seen how posing a (sensible) question on this forum will get you plenty of advice ranging from the quirky to the profound. Don't forget it is here as you can use it to help as you prepare to submit your application (and also as you prepare for your interview), though the one constant piece of advice you will see and is important is 'get in touch with a PRA', so don't use the forum as an alternative.
You can also search the historical questions for further information as the same questions tend to come round again, and the great bonus is you can probably count activity on this forum towards your CPD!
Best wishes for the future,
Alasdair

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