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Value in IEng Registration
Allan Rowan 11001200265
10 Posts
Afternoon all, just sitting behind a laptop screen pondering and found myself plotting course for my career progression and seemingly unlikely professional registration for CEng.

My current employer has encouraged that I achieve CEng registration (easier said than done) and any promotion to the next grade would be subject to attaining CEng. I'm wary of submitting my application for CEng due to not having an adequate level of education (I have a Bachelors degree only)  and at my age there's little chance of me returning to university for further study. I'm employed as a senior engineer and acting principal engineer within a project I'm currently commissioned. I appreciate that working at a principal engineer level does not necessarily provide the evidence required to prove that my understanding and knowledge is at a MEng level.

Rewind a few years, I was reasonably proud of successful registration and to achieve IEng, however, to date I'm of the opinion that it has done little else other than measurement / benchmark of my competence and identify area's in which I need to strengthen. My employer (at the time of registration) did not professionally recognise IEng registration and from my own observations nor do other employers (that I've noticed). A cursory glance of job listings on LinkedIn, shall normally state a requirement for applicants to hold CEng registration or working towards CEng with no mention of IEng. There's an immense pressure to achieve Chartership and with failure to do so could be possibly observed as I'm either inadequate or not quite cutting the grade by a prospective or current employer.

Is there any value to the IEng registration other than a personal achievement and worth maintaining? I imagine the nervousness and apprehension about navigating the CEng route and the fear of failure that I'm not unique in this respect and other's may have a similar story? Not sure what I would wish to hear, but knowing of others that succeeded with a similar background and level of education would provide some encouragement.

34 Replies

I understand where you are coming from and it is a pity that employers still fail to see the purpose of IEng. A common one line description of the two registrations is that CEngs are the thinkers and the IEngs are the doers. That in itself is fair enough but those of us who have had to work for a living know only too well it is never that simple and is often just wrong. I have had numerous CEngs on my teams over the years and many I wouldn't let loose on site let alone ask them how to use a screwdriver - extremely well qualified but often just not very practical.

For myself I originally achieved registration as a "Technician Engineer" in 1987 from Building Services background in Local Government and that was tied to promotion back then! - the title in itself makes little sense - technician? engineer? what are you? Time passed and the term Incorporated Engineer came into being no one knew then what it meant so not a lot has changed over the decades. I had no chance of ever making CEng; I never went to university, I worked full time and twice on Sundays (yes often seven days a week on pressure projects) and I had a family, mortgage etc that needed funding. The rules started to change when the merger of the IEE and IEEIE took place and the EC started recognising that many IEngs were punching way beyond the the accepted roles of IEng. For myself I was close to retirement so other than self satisfaction there was nothing to be gained by putting myself through that process. However now volunteering for the IET as an Assessor, Interviewer and PRA I am sure that if my ego pushed me to it I could walk it.

I would seriously suggest that you get hold of the UK Spec - 3rd Edition (available on both the IET and EC websites and due for revision later this year) and read not just the main body of the document but the matrix at the back where it sets out the 17 Competences that need to be demonstrated. It shows the differences between the three main registration categories. If you believe that you can achieve the CEng competences with confidence. Then start filling in the application form on the IET Career Manager get yourself a PRA and take note of their advice (so many don't). Us volunteers all undergo training so that everybody is supposed to be singing from the same sheet.

Just a couple of hints I always give as a PRA to prospective candidates - the application is not your CV - no one involved is going to be offering you a job during this process. Start every paragraph with an "I" and "doing it" is always better than being just "responsible" for it (we've all worked for those who are "responsible" for it). This especially applies to the 5 Competences in categories A&B - C is a little different - just read the matrix. When you get to the interview use a subject that you are confident in - upside down and inside out - and be prepared to be questioned on it; no one is trying to catch you out we just need to understand that you know what you are doing. Get a colleague to quiz you on it you might find minor amendments are needed.

The process is a peer review the initial assessment of your application is undertaken by a Panel of two Assessors and a Moderator/Registrar, the interview is carried by two interviewers and the Post PRI assessment is carried out by a similar Panel. With your PRA that's nine volunteers; very little is left to chance and we all want you to get through - providing you meet the requirements.

I trust this is of some help - but whatever you decide Good Luck.

Regards Jim W
Paul Gould 512859
6 Posts
Hi Allen, 
I can understand your current situation. 
I was an IEng for many years and I encourage you to continue this.
 I successfully transitioned to CEng and I don’t see why you cannot.
 I have assisted all branches of Engineer to gain Chartered in my role of PRA for the IET. 
Do not be daunted by this as there is a well defined process to follow. As you are an IEng already and have been through this before, you can start by using the UKSPEC for Chartered and see where you sit against the requirements. 
A PRA will then help you to provide the best application that reflects your suitability. 

Hope this helps you get focused!!

Cheers,  Paul Gould CEng CMgr FIET MCMI 
To add to and endorse what has been said by others, many who have been IEng have subsequently applied for and achieved CEng. The fact you only have a Bachelor degree is not a problem - it just means that there will be a bit more scrutiny of some aspects of UK SPEC.
To pick up on James's comment about the 4th edition of UK SPEC, this was originally scheduled for publication last month, then this month, and when it is now due I couldn't say, but the message is that it will provide more clarity of the differences between IEng and CEng, so it may be worth waiting for.
I certainly sympathise with your comments about whether there is any value in IEng. This has been debated at length on this forum (if you are interested you can search some of the older threads to see the different viewpoints) and while I believe there is value in it (IEng), it is really the employers who count. Some employers are happy to see IEng but too many see CEng as the ideal and won't take what they consider second best (though as James has said, there are some CEng who can't be trusted with a screwdriver, so the employers are not necessarily getting what they need).
Alasdair (CEng and BEng)
Rhino60 1100257280
33 Posts
Hi Allan
It does look all rather daunting, I must agree. I am hoping to gain I Eng this year. I do not have a degree and 80%, roughly, of my career has been as a technician.
I am encouraged, by both my employer (Government) and PRA after only one meeting with him.
As others have alluded to: follow the form and read the requirements. I did not think I could do it (60 this year!!) but I am confident now.
All the best to you.

Roy Bowdler 603091
815 Posts
Like Jim I registered IEng in 1987 and have recently retired.  Within a few years my career transitioned away from actually carrying out “engineering work”.  However, the various management roles that I subsequently held had an engineering context, so retaining registration and membership of a professional engineering institution seemed appropriate. Many CEng would say the same.  

The IET predecessor institutions that I was a member of, led their IEng  members to believe that they were highly respected and valued. How true this was outside those institutions themselves is debatable, but Engineering Council adopted the principles that they were, “different but equally valuable to Chartered Engineers” and “overlapped in practice”.   Personally, I’m of the view that there is a spectrum or continuum of professional engineers from the “more practical” to the “more theoretical”.  Some are relatively static at either end, but most are moving somewhere around the middle.  They require a solid theoretical underpinning knowledge of their discipline, with substantial relevant training and experience in practice.

Greatly disproportionate weight  has been given within the current system to time spent in university relative to work based learning. So mastery of complex mathematical concepts, often never subsequently used and therefore wasted, are held to be “essential”, with practical capability “optional”.  Petty and often irrelevant distinctions have been made for the purposes of academic accreditation between  degrees of similar merit, with IEng (more practical) degrees stigmatised in many quarters.  

Over the last dozen years the IET has adopted a “competence based” approach, based on UK-SPEC. As others have said, this means that for an experienced practitioner, what they have done in practice and the way they have deployed their underpinning knowledge is the measure of a Chartered Engineer.  The attainment of a graduate or post-graduate student in examinations and assignments usually measured at the age of 21/22 is something else. I would describe this as potential, or even “intellectual horsepower”, which can be turned into performance.  However, the evidence of a difference in performance between engineers beyond the threshold of higher education  in many roles isn’t clear.  There is perhaps a correlation is some roles such as R&D.  

Theoretical examination is convenient for assessment and relative grading, but a relatively weak predictor of performance in many roles. We need therefore to revitalise, better balanced blends of learning such as apprenticeships, which were for many years stigmatised as “suitable only for the less able”.  Ironically IEng  was the only professional engineering recognition available to engineers with qualifications like HNCs and apprenticeship until recent years, unless you were one of an incredibly small number who were “well in enough” with a chartered institution to be allowed to write a report in lieu of an accredited degree.

I am aware that Engineering Council intends to help “clarify the distinction” between the two categories.  I am unsure who this is intended to benefit or how? Industry doesn’t buy into these simplistic role stereotypes, because they are artificial. They can understand the idea that for certain more demanding, higher risk, higher profile or “prestige” work, deploying a chartered practitioner can be advantageous.  They could if it were adopted, understand how every Chartered Engineer should pass through an “intermediate stage” (which is how IEng has been used by some).              

Based on your post Allan, I can see no reason why you shouldn’t succeed in a CEng assessment, with some advice and coaching. Good luck!
Andy Millar 33788107
1713 Posts
Out of interest, I've just had a quick browse around the IET site,
here https://www.theiet.org/career/professional-registration/chartered-engineer/
and here https://www.theiet.org/career/professional-registration/chartered-engineer/am-i-eligible/
and here https://www.theiet.org/media/5301/ukspec-ceng-competence-and-commitment-standards.pdf
and here https://www.theiet.org/media/5561/ceng-ieng-application-guidance-notes.docx

I am delighted to say that I can't find the word "Master's" anywhere! Of course, there's still the problem that UKSpec says
"An accredited Bachelors degree [...] plus either an appropriate Masters degree [...] or appropriate further learning to Masters level"
and that we know that this gets misinterpreted as having to sit in a lecture theatre with someone in a silly* hat and gown at the front. But at least the IET info is guiding candidates in the right direction. Unfortunately as we know, and postings on here show, the idea that you need a Master's degree to become Chartered this is still one of the most common misunderstandings around - and so is probably holding back many excellent potential candidates who feel as Allan does. I think it's going to take a long time to stop this rumour mill (which is also propagating the other big myth that you can't become CEng - or IEng - unless you're "a manager"). 

Good to see you back Roy! And now you're retired you don't need to hold back in your comments any more 😉



* Apologies to those who think a PhD bonnet is not a silly hat. And it certainly shouldn't reflect on the person wearing it!
David Parr 16373115
283 Posts
" Good to see you back Roy! And now you're retired you don't need to hold back in your comments any more 😉"

I say Amen to that! I always appreciate your wisdom Roy.
I am retired from industry and PRA-duties now and I have time to look at job adverts in the daily emails from E&T Magazine to comprehend the extent to which professional registration is a recruitment criterion. With regard to IEng registration, I was delighted to read these words within the Qualifications and Skills section of a Rolls Royce vacancy advertised in January 2020: “You will also be a Chartered Engineer or hold an affiliate/associate membership of a relevant professional body, or be working towards Chartered/Incorporated status”.

This finding encouraged me to read further job adverts and I found that many of the top tier companies now recognise IEng registration. The ones that I have noticed include:

AWE, 22/1/2020: To be successful in this role you will need to have: Registration with a relevant Professional Engineering Institution. IEng.

Atlas Elektronik, 23/1/20: Membership of a relevant professional organisation, or working towards Incorporated or Chartered registration (e.g. IEMA)

QinetiQ, 10/3/20: Desirable - Chartered/Incorporated Engineer Status or the willingness to undertake the application for registration.

BAE Systems, 11/3/20: Essential - IEng or equivalent qualification/experience.

UKAEA: Desirable - Working towards Engineering Technician (EngTech) or Incorporated engineer status (IEng).

AWE: To be successful in this role you should have the following skills: Incorporated Engineer or equivalent.

AWE, 9/6/20: To be successful in this role you will need to have: Membership of an appropriate professional institute preferably at Chartered Engineer level but as a minimum at Incorporated Engineer with equivalent academic qualifications (minimum HNC/HND).

The above is evidence of value in IEng registration.

Take care in these challenging times.
Chris Danzelman GCGI IEng FIET
Andy Millar 33788107
1713 Posts
Thanks for posting that Chris. Now of course, there is a potential problem that jobs advertised in E&T are a self-selecting group so I thought I'd have a look at LinkedIn, and actually there's (sort of) good news there, 171 jobs mentioning IEng compared to 399 for CEng. Yes it's still a lot less when there "should" be perhaps 4-5 time more IEng than CEng (based on my estimate of the number of job roles that exist where IEng is most relevant as compared to CEng), but at least it appears to be moving in the right direction. Although that said, a number of these didn't require IEng, they allowed the participant to gain it.

It's a bit sad that the figures for both are so low, but that's another subject.

I have just (!) picked up one line from the original post:
"Rewind a few years, I was reasonably proud of successful registration and to achieve IEng, however, to date I'm of the opinion that it has done little else other than measurement / benchmark of my competence and identify area's in which I need to strengthen."
Well, that's a point I always make to candidates at any registration grade - measuring yourself against UKSpec (and having an independent third party ratify that measurement) is incredibly useful. A registrant may not have needed to show IEng to get another job, but may very well have got another job because they had improved your management skills, interpersonal skills, knowledge of environmental obligations etc etc etc. The sensible employers ☺ will know that they've done this because they'll see "IEng" (or whichever) on the CV. The others will see it during the interview process, or through working with them in the case of internal promotions. Whether it's worth the individual engineer paying a couple of hundred pounds a year to maintain that is of course another issue, but I'll leave that to the IET marketing department 😃


Roy Bowdler 603091
815 Posts
I probably should have kept out of this, but a change in the weather brought me indoors and tempted me to take a look at the forums.

Anyone coming fresh to IEng and wishing to understand it, or encountering some form of negative prejudice that discomforts them, will continue to question the purpose of the category and/or the value of holding it. The fact that there are three generic categories and two types of “engineer” (or “Technologist”), naturally invites comparison, explanation or even competition.  The three categories are a simplification of literally hundreds of different types of work being carried out by trained and skilled professionals.      

When the explanation is offered by those who control the profession, who are either themselves Chartered Engineers or affiliated to that category,  then in some shape or form, the explanation is always that IEng is a “lesser” or “lower” type of practitioner.  There was a time when the “official” explanation, was that each type was “ideally optimised for different types of activity” ("different but equally valuable"), but that was lost once the IIE was no longer present at Engineering Council.  In practice, the widely used “Chartered” designation is all most people think that they need to know from a professional body.  Engineering has chosen to offer “intermediate”, “part-qualified” or “associate professional” categories, which a small proportion of practitioners have chosen to participate in.   
The system for division, is also far from perfect , with widespread misunderstanding, inaccuracies, inconsistencies and iniquities, both real and perceived.  Perhaps the most widely used and easily understood means of division uses academic qualifications, at the simplest based on the number of years of study. However, this apparent certainty, quickly falls apart under even superficial scrutiny. For example, a 22 year old with an “IEng degree” and real experience, will often outperform a typical MEng graduate of the same age. The latter may “catch up” or even in an R&D situation possibly become more effective; but what proportion of engineers are academic or industrial R&D? Many engineers also migrate away from their first degree domain.

Competent practice can be defined in a set of specific circumstances, but in a generic sense it is vague and open to a wide variety of interpretations.  The IET has made enormous efforts over many years in competence assessments, but clarity and consistency still remains “difficult” and many Engineering Council PEIs have barely evolved since 1999, when the exemplifying quailfication for CEng was moved from Bachelors to Masters. A significant number are also dismissive of IEng or Eng Tech, as “not the type of people” who are welcome (or respected) in their club.                     

I’m delighted to see a contribution from Chris, who has given exceptional voluntary service to The IET and its members over many years. As his evidence illustrates, there are employers who value IEng. This is typically for engineer roles up to a certain level of seniority, however they also typically expect CEng for more senior roles.  The MOD and its sphere of influence is perhaps the most prominent example. 

So is there value in IEng?  Yes in certain circumstances, but there are also some negative risks, otherwise the issue wouldn’t keep coming up.

Largely positive situations include; Where an IEng is clearly demonstrating a lesser capability, or carrying less responsibility than a Chartered Engineer doing a similar type of work, or where there is little prospect of negative comparison with a Chartered Engineer. Where the IEng standard is being used as an early career benchmark, such as after a “degree apprenticeship”, or other form of training or career transition.  Where the IEng is working towards CEng with a reasonable prospect of success in the foreseeable future.

Some experienced professionals may also be unconcerned about potentially negative comparisons and register largely for their own satisfaction.  I fitted into that category myself for many years, I didn’t need it, rarely used the post-nominal, but kept it “just in case”.  It proved useful and I used it when I got more involved with the IET, but that was quickly followed by a “slap in the teeth” as Engineering Council “downgraded” the category, so I didn’t use it any more. I still currently hold it, in the hope that it might enable me to give some useful service post-retirement.   

As I see it (from some distance) Engineering Council feels that it has to retain a three tier system to fit in with international accords which are based around academic qualifications. A number of Degree Apprenticeships have also been linked to the IEng standard, so a significant proportion of graduate engineers may pass through IEng. If every developing engineer did the same, then there would be a much greater level of clarity and consistency!

A suggestion that I made was for the IEng benchmark to become “Registered Engineer” (or another title).  Any registered engineer could then, at a pace of their choosing, work towards CEng under the supervision of a professional institution.  A minimum of say, four years before seeking CEng seems reasonable? Others have argued that control by PEIs is part of the problem, but I won’t pursue that here.   

A registered professional engineer should in my opinion demonstrate graduate level understanding (i.e. bachelors) and Chartered Engineer should be benchmarked at “masters level”. However, this doesn’t mean that the best way to achieve these benchmarks is by full-time academic study prior to a career.  A more effective approach is to blend learning and career experience.  Many highly successful mid-career Engineers have developed to “masters level” through self-directed learning  and many others are a little short, but often nothing that some learning in “research methods” can’t fix.  It is not necessary for everyone as a “rite of passage” to prove their capability in advanced mathematics.  


In the light of current events,
  • We must redouble our efforts to provide training opportunities for all young people appropriate to their potential, if the long term consequences of this pandemic are not to become even worse.
  • I should also mention the international wave of revulsion and outrage about the death of George Floyd. In my experience the engineering profession is less inclined towards racism, than society generally. However, most institutions involved are extremely enthusiastic to perpetuate their versions of the class system and academic snobbery. This makes it difficult for anyone who is not excelling in maths and science by early teens, such as those who are socially disadvantaged. We should do better!  Why does the Cleese, Barker & Corbett Sketch from 1966 still seem to resonate in our profession?  Sorry for not “knowing my place”! 
  • A particular hero of mine, who Rev Al Sharpton considers a “father figure”, also declared in 1966 that “it’s a man’s world”, built by engineers no less! Is that still true? He was also widely credited as saving Boston from burning after the assassination of Dr King a couple of years later. I visited his statue and the museum in Augusta with a section dedicated to him a couple of years ago.                         
Hi Guys

Just finished reading Roy's article and as always very interesting and full of the truths that many would like to deny. On my part had the rules that govern registration to CEng now been in place back in the day I am fairly confident that I would have made it in around 1986 when I was appointed to Group Principal Engineer for Ewbank Preece's Building Services Division. I believe that whilst IEng may serve a purpose it has always been regarded as subservient to CEng and the EC has done little to nothing to remove that thinking to the extent of making IEng a stepping stone to the gods.

When you look at the numbers; CEngs far outnumber the IEngs so that if you regard the IEng registration as a step towards CEng you have, in statistical terms, an upside down pyramid and as engineers we all know (I hope) that that doesn't work.

I have felt for a long time, and made my point at the IEng working party that I was involved in a couple of years back, that you either scrap IEng as a category, uplifting existing IEngs, with an agreed period of registration, to CEng. The requirements for CEng are then set out to cover all aspects of Engineering (probably mission impossible) then you formalise the progression scenario with recognizable steps from the bottom up through EngTech, IEng etc which is then understood by everybody. If your career path means that you do not want progress further it would not be a problem you, your employer and your industry would know where you stand. Then you don't get the scenario that I endured for a number of years with highly qualified CEng staff reporting up to me and occasionally even having my authority challenged on occasions because  I was "Only" an IEng.

On the second scenario to ensure all are treated fairly, I would have a simple format for existing IEngs with say 10 years registration the opportunity to to register to CEng. They would need to show by demonstrating their work experience and with a verifier in senior position to transfer to CEng. I'm not saying either scenario is perfect but they could be a starting point.

Changing the name (again) to REng will do nothing to make the situation clearer - no one outside the institutions (and some inside) have any idea what an Incorporated Engineer is so nothing will change there. A lot of people understand that a Chartered Engineer has some status within his profession but that certainly is not the case with IEng.

Certain disciplines such as the Civils and Structural Engineers have a legal standing and responsibility with their registration, their qualifications are set by statute. We in the IET are not in that situation but as we welcome all disciplines to our fold but a Civil or Structural Engineer with CEng MIET does not have the same legal standing as CEng MICE or StructE etc.

There I've said my piece, again - thank you all for reading this - it's an interesting subject with no real answers because those at the top are not really interested.

Regards Jim W
Many thanks to Roy and Jim for the comments above. Unfortunately due to the redesign of the site I have only just picked up on this thread...
I fully agree with the comments made, but I think that the Incorporated/Chartered issue goes beyond the Engineering profession and is a reflection on the general populace's understanding of the terms. If we look at other professions, how many of us would understand the difference between a Chartered Accountant and an Incorporated Accountant? (...and yes, there are Incorporated Accountants as well as Chartered Accountants, but just what the difference is I don't know.)
I agree that a change in name is not the solution, but on the other hand we can't just keep rejecting proposals as that way we end up doing nothing. 
Hi guys

Alasdair’s comment about doing nothing just about sums it up - all we have is a few concerned members voicing off but no one is listening - I am sure this debate goes on in most if it all of the Engineering Institutions and despite a working party whose aim was never really met; all we have is a proposal to change the name. Try this one - change “Incorporated” To “Corporate” then we’d all be CEng and everybody would be happy.

Footnote - I’ve never met anyone who voted for the change from Technician Engineer In the first place!?

Regards Jim W
Rhino60 1100257280
33 Posts
Hi All

As one coming to (I hope) I Eng in my late 50s (Eng Tech for 30 ish years) I think one big issue is wider coverage in the whole engineering community.
My background is military and civil aviation maintenance, electrical contracting, insurance compliance (Engineer surveying) and finally (so far) a government department.
The whole awareness of the EC/PEI set up is quite strong, in terms of awareness, in all of these, electrical contracting being less so.
My point is, we tend to preach to the converted a little too much.
I am involved as a Volunteer with the Electrician Eng Tech standard. This is highlighting and drawing in people from outside the net.
Are there any other industry areas that remain slightly isolated?

Allan Rowan 11001200265
10 Posts
Hi Jim, thanks for your response and to everyone else who responded. 

I've taken a few weeks away from the application and have returned to it with a fresh outlook and motivation. I received some positive feedback from the IET Professional Development Coordinator which would suggest my application should be ready to submit subject to PRA review. 

To be clear, the process navigating the CEng (IEng or EngTech) application was never the issue. I recognise the value of the process and the individuals involved to assist those of us aspiring to achieve professional registration at whatever level we pursue. I was more disappointed with the lack of recognition / value of IEng for roles at my level. Permanent promotion within a post in which I currently reside is at the mercy of achieving CEng (it's a frustration at my end and possibly not indicative of the industry as a whole).

I have taken some comfort from the responses within this discussion and given time I'm confident I'll achieve CEng with some work.

As a side note, does anyone else find it awkward adding responses using the reply boxes on the IET Forums?

Your in post problem is very common and has been for many years - the problem is not with engineers but with HR or Personnel  as they used to be called.
I know the IET has done a lot to try and educate companies but the ignorance remains in so many companies.

Regards Jim W
Roy Bowdler 603091
815 Posts
In the 70s and 80s, Tech Eng which became IEng had a large potentially amenable market, of those who followed apprenticeships combined with higher qualifications. Many large employers, often state owned, such as Coal, Steel, Energy, Transport, Post, Telecommunications, MOD etc. Trained many more Engineers (i.e. “white collar” supervisory/managerial) to Higher National standard, than they took University Engineering Graduates for training.  

By the 80s an honours degree was required for CEng and opportunities to “top-up” from HNC to degree were not generally easy to access. Other routes were notoriously tricky and long-winded, including the invitation only “mature” scheme for engineers over 35.

I should also note, that all of these forms of “progression” emphasised complex mathematics. Which for many, if not most work roles, was of limited relevance. A good grasp of mathematics is important for many engineers. However, in my opinion It has been used inappropriately as a method of academic competition, selection and differentiation.

Older Chartered Engineers often see having grasped complex calculus as an important “rite of passage”, but in the same way that the ability of a toolmaker to craft metal by hand to fine tolerances has been largely superseded by technology, so has the need to carry out lengthy calculations.   

Even at its high-water mark, the take up of IEng by potentially eligible people was modest.  However, as smaller “niche” institutions amalgamated, The Institution of Incorporated Engineers, became one of the largest within Engineering Council. 

At the end of the 20th Century, Engineering Council decided that CEng should be benchmarked at a 4 year “MEng” or 3-year Bachelors + MSc. The academic frame of reference was dominant and Apprenticeships were assumed to be for “tradespeople”.  It was hoped that the “mainstream” of Engineers would become Bachelors Degree qualified IEng (probably renamed “Chartered Engineering Technologists), with a more “elite”, highly educated Masters degree qualified Chartered Engineer.

What actually happened was that Chartered Institutions (including the IEE) pressed Bachelors graduates to “get in under the wire” (there was a transition period) and graduates didn’t want IEng, which was thought of like a third class or unclassified degree (i.e. a “consolation prize”).

By 2008 the numbers of new IEng registering had collapsed. In the face of this collapse, Engineering council decided to “re-launch”, the category as a “stepping stone to chartered”.  Unfortunately, they lost the support of most long established IEng, by assuming that they (often in late career and at senior level) were also on the “stepping stone”. 
A significant sales and marketing effort was made from around 2010, with IMechE in the vanguard. IET also pushed hard.  However, for all the reasons that have been debated at length in these forums, on the basis of the last figures I saw from Engineering Council registrations had plateaued at a modest level, both in absolute terms and in relation to CEng registrations.

I have encouraged and supported “up and coming” engineers to register as IEng. But on the basis of having done it for the last 30 years, the overwhelming majority of them just didn’t find it attractive.  Even employer’s incentives came to little once they did their own informal market research. As it stands, if an increase in IEng new registrations occurs, then it is likely to lead to many becoming quickly disgruntled when they see others treated more favourably, often on dubious grounds related to historic academic performance, rather than current work performance.  This tiresome debate will sadly just run and run ad nauseam, without significant reform by Engineering Council.  

Yes, IEng may continue to have some value in the right circumstances, but in others it is an invitation for negative prejudice and ongoing exclusion from the “commanding heights” of the profession, as a “part-qualified and inferior type of lower social class and rank”.  I cannot see how this will be overcome. Hence my proposal of clear and “fair” in-career progression for everyone on current merit.

I’m sorry that I have nothing new to say!  Time for someone else to pick up this particular Baton.
Rhino60 1100257280
33 Posts
I think, as Roy stated, it does depend on the culture of the organisation you belong to. My own experience, initially, was military.
Registration is very strong here. Most Engineering Officers (Junior ones) are I Eng.
Eng Tech is widely encouraged.
I am involved as a volunteer, moving the Eng Tech and Electrician Eng Tech agenda along.
This seems the place to start if you are going to have any hope of halting the demographic decline.
As said, and no disrespect intended, people on high looking down their noses at others is very 1950s and not sustainable.

Roy Bowdler 603091
815 Posts
Good luck Colin, I ‘m very supportive of Technician Electricians and “mainstream Engineers”. Some of the mainstream are called in many countries “Technologists”, on the basis of holding a more “applied” or slightly shorter degree, with less emphasis on theoretical maths and science.

The “mainstream” also includes most Chartered Engineers, who are simply good competent professionals. The threshold of CEng has been set for many decades at around the age of 25-26. This leaves plenty of room for growth beyond the threshold. However, it is important to understand that this “chartered status”, is an essential element for admission into “polite society”. Without it you may gain some recognition and respect, but always with limitations explicit or implicit.

I won’t list here the organisations which either deny admission to non-chartered engineers, offer inferior membership, or allow patronising attitudes to flourish, which would be condemned if they were based on gender or race. Any reader is welcome to do their own research. Over recent years many have de-emphasised the chartered pre-requisite, but almost everyone in control is CEng. Even if like me, they haven’t done much “real” engineering for years.    

If we are ever to have any hope of growing the numbers of Technicians and mainstream engineers/technologists, engaged in Engineering Council registration, then they must find respect for what they have achieved and opportunities to develop in ways that help their careers, not prescriptions handed down from various ivory towers, with those ensconced in them steeped in outdated practices, snobbery and class distinction.  

This is less of a problem in the military because people are used to a stratified system of ranks and top-down control.  

For the avoidance of doubt, in my opinion we should support excellence in all its forms, including academic, scientific research etc. However, we are stuck in the mindset of aggrandising a minority, selling affiliation to this “high status” to some more and diminishing the majority of competent practitioners of good conduct.  

I’m actually even more supportive of CEng and high standards (e.g. “masters level”), because as it stands it’s the only good product we have to offer. The others have some value, but limitations and image problems. Not least the assumption that any CEng is “higher” than them.    

What really frustrates me is that a career in engineering and technology can offer so much to so many people. Many will be happy to earn well and practice as a professional technician, some will become more managerial, others may have an aptitude for an analytical science-based approach or be talented mathematicians etc. 

If the IET genuinely wants to serve these people equally, then it needs to use its influence to reform the profession. It is more than 3 years since Prof Uff reported and his findings were hardly news!  I could and probably did write something similar to this a decade ago. Has anything changed, beyond a few platitudes and subtle changes of spin?                             
Roy Bowdler
Ive read this thread with great interest, and in the main agree with all that's been said. The institution really does need to change with the times.
One of the comments reminded me when I was at BSi in the 70's to early 90's, when I was advised, "we know you can do the next level job, but you need a qualification" by which they meant get a degree. As at that time the organisation was very much in line with the civil service. and you're grade bound. this seems a simler indoctrination. And one thing I remember was director resigning when we were doing job evaluation, asking "what about the university of life".
I was an indentured apprentice, and now all but 50 years in various forms of engineering, find I am thwarted, and now for me its not for career prospects, but to be able to give back.
Something I do in my working life, and one of the reasons I'm still being sought.
For those of you a position to elicit change, please do. not for my benefit, but the youngsters coming through.
Andy Millar 33788107
1713 Posts

I think the qualification issue really is a bit of a red herring - we know well that few (very few?) candidates who successfully register for CEng have Masters' degrees, and many don't have a degree at all.

And we also know that more (far more?) engineers work in IEng roles than in CEng roles.

So, as many here have heard me go on about before, what I find interesting is why industry is not more interested in IEng. Ok, we can argue that the EC hasn't "pushed" it enough, but I don't think that's really the point - industry isn't "pulling" it either. As always, my feeling is that it's because if you are in an IEng type role employers are perfectly happy (rightly or wrongly) to judge you on your CV, they don't feel they need an engineering institution to do that judging for them. And once you're in position, well your position speaks for itself.

Whereas with CEng roles, where the employer is basically having to totally rely on that person's judgement to keep them out of jail / bankruptcy (there's a potted alternative definition of the CEng criteria!) then being able to prove to anyone who might ask why that person was considered competent becomes more of an issue. So being able to say "it wasn't just us that considered them competent, the EC did as well" has for very many years been seen as valuable - particularly in high risk or high profile industries.

Let's be clear that IEng roles themselves are most definitely not undervalued. As has been discussed here many times before, those who meet the IEng criteria can easily find themselves earning very comfortably more than those in CEng roles. In fact, some companies very successfully dispense with CEng roles altogether and contract them in when they need them*, which makes perfect sense - after all it's finding the work, winning it, making it happen, getting it out of the door, and getting the cash in that makes the company money. Having somebody take responsibility for the technical risk in the innovation in that work is, for most delivery organisations, just a necessary evil which doesn't appear to be directly contributing to the bottom line. Which is why I do get frustrated (oh dear. I probably shouldn't post at midnight 🙂)  with the idea that "people with IEngs are looked down on". No they're absolutely not. It's the IEng registration status itself that hasn't quite found it's place yet, not the person holding it.

And breathe...

So do we actually need EngTech and IEng? IMHO yes we do, even if this isn't realised widely yet in industry. Maybe the first step is for employers to swallow their pride a bit and realise that actually UKSpec is really a very good piece of guidance. Then rather than employers all making up their own competence management systems, they might appreciate that using the PEIs to help them, by accrediting all their engineering staff, will save them money and give them a better result. Having audited a fair few company competence management systems now I don't remember seeing one yet which really covers the C, D and E competences well...but again this shows that we have an uphill battle to make companies realise that these competences really do directly affect their bottom line.

Which I suppose  is going back to the EC and PEIs "pushing" IEng and EngTech more....

Final thought...it's almost become a template response for me in many draft CEng applications I've seen recently to say "this is a really good IEng application, but it needs more in A2 and B2 for CEng". What has been good is that I've started seeing noticeably more candidates replying "no problem, I'll apply for IEng then". (Of course if I think they should be applying for CEng, and it's just that the form itself needs more work, then I'll tell them!) And I suspect several of these may never in fact find themselves responsible for "innovation, creativity and change and/or [...] technical accountability for complex systems with significant levels of risk". But, because they're actually bringing in the dough, they may well end up with considerably higher "status" and pay than I or most other CEngs have.



* As a consultant, I have to say this is a jolly good idea too 😁
Rhino60 1100257280
33 Posts
That was well put and interesting for me.
I am new to the civil service as an engineer. My grade is senior executive officer.
I do not have a degree, I have a Full Tech Cert as my highest qualification. I work in operational engineering, intelligent client function.
I was recruited (much to my surprise at 58) for my experience. Most at my grade (probably all) are graduates. As I have mentioned, I am pursuing I Eng.
As you have stated, the (silent?) majority operate at I Eng and Eng Tech level in the real world.
I think the EC and Co really need to get a grip with some of the unrealistic and patronising approaches they take.
As a volunteer, doing the Eng Tech and Electrician Eng Tech work , I am seeing an extremely high standard of candidate for Eng Tech, that to be blunt, could manage and innovate until the cows come home.
The baby and the bath water springs to mind!

Roy Bowdler 603091
815 Posts
There is much in what you say that I agree with. I think we also share similar aims and principles.    

We cannot change the past, which carries a lot of cultural “baggage” through issues such as inequality of opportunity, relative status or social class-based snobbery and inverted snobbery. It is however simply a fact that being IEng is to be excluded from control of “the profession” and to be widely regarded as “sub-standard” or “part-qualified”.  Chartered Engineer is the “admission ticket” required.

The legacy of the IIE, makes The IET more respectful towards IEng, than most other parts of the “Engineering Establishment”.  Nevertheless, only my inside knowledge of the IET would allow me to identify the only IEng in a senior management role and the numbers of new IEng fellows has dwindled to a handful since 2006.   

Simply put, the world of professional engineering institutions affiliated to Engineering Council and the other stakeholder organisations, such as The Royal Academy of Engineering, Engineering Professors Council, Et Al, are run by and for Chartered Engineers. Some professional Institutions offer two subsidiary categories of professional recognition. In some cases, as equal “members”.

Research reports suggest than only a minority of those potentially eligible for Chartered Engineer choose to participate, with very low engagement in the subsidiary categories. The age profile of participants is also generally high, with the average age around 60 on the last figures I saw.

I would differentiate this rarefied world of “high status engineers”, from the rational actions of employers or customers, who have needs for someone with appropriate skills at a reasonable cost for the value added.

Some sectors of employment have senior influencers who are sympathetic towards, or even active within the “engineering establishment”. Others are indifferent, unconvinced or even actively hostile.  It is rare in my experience to find somewhere that IEng is valued, unless the more senior people are CEng.  There was a time when some sectors had senior leaders who were IEng and many more where senior leaders were former apprentices rather than university graduates, but most recognised correctly that being IEng just “didn’t cut it”. 

HR is often blamed, but they mostly derive their understanding from senior engineers and/or engineering professional bodies.

The IET has certainly made progress in competence assessment, without diminishing the value of university degrees. However, we cannot change the world in which such qualifications are seen as the primary currency for “Professional Engineers” and that benchmark being a 4-year “scientific” degree. This or something very similar is likely to remain as the main pathway to CEng.  I won’t pursue the detail as it isn’t relevant to IEng.    

The situation is confused by having another type of professional in some countries called a “Technologist” (IEng in the UK), who is also a university graduate with a slightly shorter or more “applied” degree.
Except in situations where access to experience or further learning is restricted by virtue of the type of degree, all the evidence that I have seen is that the capabilities overlap to a large extent. A more academic/scientific preparation might optimise someone better for R&D/academia and more “applied” for implementation? So simply put, the binary distinction is artificial for most “mainstream” types of work.

I referred in my earlier post to graduates not wanting IEng and I have referred in this one to more senior people not wanting it either.  In fact, in every situation where a person can compare themselves reasonably equally with a CEng (without self-delusion), then why accept the inferior status?

The typical threshold of CEng is a 4-year degree, 2 years training and 2 further years supervised experience.  So why would an engineer with a combination of 8 years training experience and education, typically perhaps via an apprenticeship, who may be performing more effectively than the former full-time student, mark themselves as second best?  The same applies at any subsequent age depending on the opportunities for learning, either experiential and /or in formal environments.

One of the widely held beliefs is that a CEng is a specialised expert consultant and this is true in many cases. However, there are many other types of roles being carried out from Technician to Strategic Management. Many “bank” CEng early in career as the “admission ticket”, before moving on and it is widely used as an honorific.  I don’t personally find this objectionable in the slightest. Why should someone lose something that they earned, unless they abuse it?

A last point about the few places where IEng is strong. There are nearly all situations where responsibility is delegated and constrained relatively rigidly.

So, for example in the Armed Forces a SNCO or Junior Commissioned Officer, may not have the opportunity to exercise sufficient responsibility. It was also the case until very recently that a non-commissioned officer would not be allowed to become CEng, because such status was “reserved” for higher ranking commissioned officers. This ceiling has been broken by a few SNCOs. But we could not reasonably expect a higher-ranking officer to accept the lower status of IEng.  

There are also some civilian sectors, seen by PEIs as “operational” rather than “design” led, where there is a perception that the type of work isn’t technically demanding enough to warrant CEng. So, to repeat the advice of a PEI to one of my reports, “you won’t get CEng working for a contractor move to a consultancy”.  

To summarise

The current infrastructure is designed for and run by Chartered Engineers. The value of the subsidiary IEng category is whatever they choose to make it.

The IEng standard itself represents a capable professional engineer, who does not require supervision by a Chartered Engineer. It is similar to other types of chartered professionals, but must be presented as “sub-standard” to avoid “confusion” with CEng.

IEng was probably going to be renamed “Chartered Engineering Technologist” 20 years ago, but this annoyed some IEng who considered themselves “Engineers”. Furthermore, the distinction between an “Engineer and Technologist”, just seems like semantics to most practitioners in the UK and means nothing to the less informed. Chartered Engineers would also have endlessly banged-on about how they were “superior” to a Technologist.  

The current value of IEng is limited and its primary distinguishing feature is actually a negative characteristic i.e. “not CEng”.

I think that there is merit in a benchmark short of CEng, but only if a requirement for everyone to pass through the same gate with structured progression in-career. Academic sorting pre-career just doesn’t work, but if academics hold sway then it is the only way that they can do it.

Nothing that we do should be about “dumbing down”. Our purpose is to raise standards. I strongly support academic institution/employer partnerships such as Degree Apprenticeships, which should provide the most optimum pathway to technical and managerial leadership for engineers.

I also have seen many Technicians perform to a high standard in Masters Degree programmes that reflect real engineering practice and offer admission to "mature students" based on career learning.       

Hi Guys

I read with interest the last few missives on this subject and agree with most of what is written, especially by Roy who has to be an acknowledged authority on the subject but, and it is a big but for me, there are many IEngs who never had the opportunity to aspire to the exalted ranks of the CEngs mainly due to the lack of academic qualifications and the glass ceiling put in place by the likes of the IEE and others in the dim distant past. 

I have no issue with there being a stepping stone position towards CEng but it cannot be IEng as it stands - unless you give the existing cohort of IEngs the rite of passage to registration as CEng - it should be semi-automatic if a candidate wishes to change (not upgrade I hasten to add) their registration status.

I remain very proud to be an IEng on the basis of how I attained the original registration way back in 1979 and just as proud to be a Fellow for the same reasons but I am disheartened by the way the grade is portrayed as being less that CEng and more and more used as a stepping stone. This is my only gripe on this subject. Okay, I know it won’t be long until we all shuffle off this mortal coil and history won't give a damn - but it is annoying.

Regards Jim W

As you say, history won't give a damn, but it would be nice if people (i.e. those with IEng) could be given the recognition they deserve. I personally don't have an issue with IEng being a stepping stone to CEng but I am not sure about the semi-automatic change in status - it should be properly assessed, but it is also tempting to say that those with CEng should also have to demonstrate that they could have achieved IEng and I suspect that there would be a higher failure rate among CEng trying to also get IEng than for IEng trying to get CEng.

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