Chartered Engineer (UK)

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In the United Kingdom, a Chartered Engineer (CEng) is an engineer registered with the UK's regulatory body for the engineering profession, the Engineering Council. Chartered Engineers are master's degree qualified or can demonstrate equivalent work-based learning and have gained the appropriate professional competencies through education and working experience. Demonstration of competence is defined in the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence, assessed through professional review of academic qualifications and professional development (training and professional work experience). Formal, non-formal and informal learning can be assessed.[1] The title Chartered Engineer is protected in the UK under law by means of the Engineering Council’s Royal Charter and Bye-laws. As of 2019 there are approximately 180,000 engineers registered as a Chartered Engineer.[2] Chartered Engineers are registered through Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) licensed by the Engineering Council which are relevant to their industry or specialism.

Many engineering tasks covered by UK legislation specify Chartership as a requirement of the persons undertaking them. For example The Road Tunnel Safety Regulations 2007 require that for inspections "The person appointed as the inspection entity must be a Chartered Engineer or headed by a Chartered Engineer".[3] Others require chartered engineers be registered with a particular institution, for example The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 require assessments be carried out by a "chartered engineer...who is registered by the Institution of Civil Engineers".[4]


In the 19th century Engineering as a profession was becoming prolific and various disciplines (principally Civil, Mechanical and Electrical) organised to form Institutions to further the interests of their members and the industry as a whole. At this time, each institution began to implement entry examinations for membership to ensure a minimum standard of competence of their members. In the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), for example, candidates for Associate Membership would be expected to sit a general knowledge paper, a three-hour paper on applied mathematics, a three-hour paper on physics and chemistry and two three-hour papers elected from the following list: materials, steam engines, internal combustion engines, hydraulics, “electrotechnics”, the theory of machines, machine design and metallurgy.[5] Membership of an engineering institution quickly became a mark of quality and would give employers confidence in the competency of its members. Various Institutions sought Royal Charter to formalise their position and the members became engineers by charter, or Chartered Engineers for that institutions discipline. The first was in 1828 when the Institute of Civil Engineers was awarded its Royal Charter (awarding Chartered Civil Engineer).[6] On April 22, 1930, King George V signed the IMechE’s Royal Charter allowing Members to refer to themselves as Chartered Mechanical Engineers.[7] By the mid-1950s, a significant demand for a central body to set the standards for education and training and to represent the wider profession had arisen. This led to the creation of the Joint Council of Engineering Institutions, established in 1964, that was later known as the Council of Engineering Institutions (CEI).[8] This body was empowered to imbue the title of Chartered Engineer to elected members of PEIs. Despite attempts in the 1970s to replace the title with REng (Registered Engineer),[9] the title of Chartered Engineer remains the de facto mark of the professional engineer in the UK.

Election Requirements[edit]

To become chartered, the Engineering Council require engineers meet requirements set out in The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence and Commitment (UK-SPEC) which broadly fall into two categories, academic qualification and initial professional development (IPD).

Academic Qualifications[edit]

The UK-SPEC denotes the following academic qualification requirements (for the 'traditional' pathway):

  • An accredited Bachelor's degree with honours in engineering or technology, plus either an appropriate Master's degree or engineering doctorate accredited by a Licensee, or appropriate further learning to Masters level
  • An accredited integrated Master of Engineering (MEng) degree
  • An accredited Bachelors degree with honours in engineering or technology started before September 1999
  • Equivalent qualifications or apprenticeships accredited or approved by a Licensee, or at an equivalent level in a relevant national or international qualifications framework

Initial Professional Development[edit]

Initial Professional Development (IPD) is acquired through work place learning. The UK-SPEC splits IPD into five key competencies:

Competency A. Knowledge and understanding
Chartered Engineers shall use a combination of general and specialist engineering knowledge and understanding to optimise the application of advanced and complex systems.

Competency B. Design, development and solving engineering problems
Chartered Engineers shall apply appropriate theoretical and practical methods to the analysis and solution of engineering problems.

Competency C. Responsibility, management and leadership
Chartered Engineers shall demonstrate technical and commercial leadership.

Competency D. Communication and interpersonal skills
Chartered Engineers shall demonstrate effective communication and interpersonal skills.

Competency E. Personal and professional commitment
Chartered Engineers shall demonstrate a personal commitment to professional standards, recognising obligations to society, the profession and the environment.

Requirements specific to Institutions[edit]

The Engineering Council do not directly register Chartered Engineers. This task is delegated to Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs). In addition to the key competencies set in the UK-SPEC, the PEI may have additional requirements for election to membership. For example, the Nuclear Institute (NI) requires demonstration of the key competencies, but also of the Nuclear Delta. According to the NI, the nuclear delta differentiates nuclear professionals from professionals in other fields and institutions. The Nuclear Delta® is defined by three core elements, which capture what is unique, special and different about the nuclear industry.

  • Nuclear Safety Culture
  • Nuclear Security Culture
  • Nuclear Technology & Safety

Maintenance Requirements[edit]

The Engineering Council requires demonstration of commitment and Continued Professional Development (CPD) for on-going registration as a chartered engineer. The Engineering Council sets out basic requirements and similar to IPD, CPD may be further enhanced by individual PEIs. The general requirements are: Take ownership of their learning and development needs, and develop a plan to indicate how they might meet these, in discussion with their employer, as appropriate.

  • Undertake a variety of development activities, both in accordance with this plan and in response to other opportunities which may arise.
  • Record their CPD activities.
  • Reflect upon what they have learned or achieved through their CPD activities and record these reflections.
  • Evaluate their CPD activities against any objectives which they have set and record this evaluation.
  • Review their learning and development plan regularly following reflection and assessment of future needs.
  • Support the learning and development of others through activities such as mentoring, and sharing professional expertise and knowledge.

Designatory lettering[edit]

Chartered Engineers are entitled to use the post-nominals, CEng, after names as a means of denoting their status with the Engineering Council. This is written after honours, decorations and academic/university, but before letters denoting membership of professional engineering institutions. When a Chartered Engineer has more than one institution membership conferring designatory letters, the institution through which the holder is registered as a Chartered Engineer appears immediately after CEng, with other memberships following in order of the institution's foundation dates.

International equivalence[edit]

The level of competence required for registration as a Chartered Engineer in the U.K. is comparable to many continental European countries that require master's-level education for registration as a professional Engineer. The Washington Accord, signed by the Engineering Council in 1989, recognises "substantial equivalence" between the academic requirements for registration between signatories, meaning that foreign qualifications recognised by their local signatory body are accepted for Chartered Engineers, and UK qualifications can be used in applying for similar international statuses. Recognition under the Washington Accord is outcome-based, not based on the length of courses.[10][11]

Chartered Engineers are entitled to register through the European Federation of National Engineering Associations as a European Engineer and use the pre-nominal of EUR ING.

Bodies qualified to register Chartered Engineers[edit]

The body that maintains the UK's register of Chartered Engineers is the Engineering Council.[12] Authority to register Chartered Engineers is delegated to licensed Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs):

Some of these institutions also register Incorporated Engineers and Engineering Technicians. There are other Engineering Council UK licensed member institutions that register Incorporated Engineers and Engineering Technicians, but do not register Chartered Engineers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "UK-SPEC fourth edition" (PDF). Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  2. ^ "Engineering Council Annual Report and Financial Accounts 2019" (PDF). Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  3. ^ "The Road Tunnel Safety Regulations 2007". Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  4. ^ "The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015". Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  5. ^ "History of the IMechE 1900-1913". Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  6. ^ "History of the Engineering Council".
  7. ^ "History of the IMechE 1919-1939". Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  8. ^ "History of the Engineering Council".
  9. ^ "Engineering Profession (Finniston Report)". Hansard 13 June 1980. House of Commons. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  10. ^ "The Washington Accord". International Engineering Alliance. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Washington Accord". Engineering Council. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Engineering Council". Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  13. ^ "The Safety and Reliability Society".

External links[edit]