After completing your qualification in engineering, there is the option to work towards the two main types of engineer: chartered engineer or incorporated engineer. This is often done whilst working, and through an accredited graduate scheme. Whilst engineering is the base of both, chartered engineers and incorporated engineers have some definite differences between them.
The Engineering Council defines the two as:
- 'Chartered engineers (CEng) develop solutions to engineering problems using new or existing technologies through innovation, creation and change and they may have technical accountability for complex systems with significant levels of risk.'
- 'Incorporated engineers maintain and manage applications of current and developing technology, and may undertake engineering design, development, manufacture, construction and operation.'
Chartered Engineers use creativity and innovation to design solutions to engineering problems, either through new or existing technology. Some of this new technology may be designed by chartered engineers, and they may also work on aspects such as introducing new and more efficient construction ideas or production techniques, pioneering new services, and promoting designs and methods.
There are many benefits of becoming a CEng: continuous learning in an evolving field, influencing concepts both in your organisation and the industry, and the status of being part of a high standing group of technological individuals.
Incorporated Engineers are professionally registered as such, meaning that the industry will recognise commitment to the role, relevant skills and experience. Earning an IEng will often form an important milestone in career progression towards a CEng qualification.
Incorporated Engineers will demonstrate to your employer that you are able to perform to professional standards and are open to enhancing your competence and skills. They are employed across a wide range of fields including design, manufacture and construction, and will also have technical and commercial management abilities.
You will have an idea of what side you want to head into, and often your chosen employer will have a more defined route through the use of training systems and other career progression opportunities. It will often be the case that employers have requirements such as certain qualifications for the training programmes also.
There are many engineering graduate schemes offered by different employers in order to become qualified, and it is important to consider what one is the best option for you. Some factors to consider could be if it is accredited, how many people are on the scheme and their pass rate.
Both are well regarded professions, however a CEng is the higher qualification of the two and thus carries with it a slightly better package of benefits, and the opportunity to use leadership skills and work on new developments.
One difference between the two types is the salary; the 2010 Engineering Council’s Survey of Registered Engineers displayed the following figures (please note, these are inclusive of bonuses and overtime pay):
Chartered Engineer’s median salary: £55,000
Chartered Engineer’s mean salary: £67,714
Incorporated Engineer’s median salary: £43,000
Incorporated Engineer’s mean salary: £49,912
Choosing a route based solely on salary may not be the best idea as there are other factors to take into account, however it is astute to keep these figures in mind whilst you are considering your options.
In order to access either of the professions, you will need certain qualifications. In order to achieve chartered engineer status, a MEng degree is the best option available to you, whereas for an incorporated engineer the route would be from an engineering or technology degree. Alternatively, for an incorporated engineer position there is the possibility achieve this by starting with a foundation degree and pursuing further learning. If you have a BEng degree and wish to become a chartered engineer then you can do this through a few options:
- Taking an MSc in professional engineering (provided by the Engineering Council).
This is currently offered by seven universities (Aston University, Cardiff University, Kingston University, Northumbria University, Staffordshire University, University of Glamorgan and University of Hertfordshire). Whilst they all have the same basis, there are some differences between what each university offers so it is beneficial to thoroughly research the courses before making a decision. These courses are designed to be studied whilst employed.
- Taking Engineering Council exams
- Before starting work, completing an engineering doctorate (EngD)
- Writing and submitting a technical report to the Engineering Council. This must be based on experience, and demonstrate a firm understanding of the principles of engineering.
An alternative route is to first qualify as an IEng and then work towards stepping up through training and studying.
For Incorporated Engineers aspiring to be Chartered Engineers formal learning needs to be undertaken in order to develop knowledge to the benchmark level, and a commitment to meeting the standards for professional engineering competence needs to be demonstrated.