The CN Tower in Toronto: construction supervised by an engineer originally from Iran

From nearly 2,500 posts over nine years, none has generated so many comments as Can you teach ‘real’ engineering at a distance? 

What you will see from the comments from readers is a deep and widespread frustration at the lack of recognition by Canadian professional engineering associations of any courses or programs taken by distance. This is now getting to the point where it is becoming a national scandal. Rather than your having to read through the 120 comments or so on this post, I will summarise them for you.

Accreditation as a professional engineer in Canada

I am not an engineer by background, so please correct me if I am wrong about the process. But this seems to me to be how it works.

In order to obtain work as a professional engineer in Canada, most employers require you to be accredited through the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB). However, this means applying to one of the provincial accreditation agencies such as the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) or the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA), who assess your qualifications and issue membership to their organisation.

These organisations are groups made up of professional engineers and educators (usually Deans of Engineering Schools in universities and Institutes of Technology), so it is a self-regulating process. Usually the minimum qualification for membership is a four year bachelor’s degree in engineering from a Canadian university or its equivalent (i.e. a university in the USA whose engineering program is recognized by the U.S. Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

The decision about what foreign qualifications will be accepted is entirely at the discretion of the Canadian professional associations. This is not unlike other professions in Canada, such as teaching, medicine or nursing.

The professional association will require an individual to take further qualifications if it deems the existing qualifications do not meet the standards set.

Engineering and online learning in Canada

Until very recently, there were no fully online undergraduate courses, let alone degree programs, offered by Canadian universities in engineering. That is beginning to change. For instance:

  • Queens University, Ontario is now offering a fully online Bachelor of Mining Engineering Technology. This program is particularly directed at those already working in the mining industry. Queen’s University is one of the oldest and most well-established public universities in Canada;
  • McMaster University, Ontario, is developing an online B.Tech (mainly software engineering) in partnership with Mohawk College. Students can take a diploma program from Mohawk then take the third and fourth year courses from McMaster University. Although the campus-based B. Tech. is well-established and successful, the online version is still in development and not yet available at the time of writing. McMaster University is another well-established Canadian public university with an outstanding reputation in engineering, especially in the automative and steel industries;
  • Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia, offers a one year online B.Tech Manufacturing degree. It is available to students with technology diploma programs from colleges across Canada which have an articulation agreement in place with CBU providing for immediate advanced standing in the BET (Manufacturing) program. Students complete the B. Tech program via distance format in as little as one academic year.

These are the only online programs in engineering from accredited Canadian universities that I know about. If you know of others please let me know.

In addition there are more (but not many) accredited universities in the USA that offer fully online engineering degrees, for example:

  • the University of North Dakota (a highly respected state university) has been offering a range of engineering courses (civil, mechanical, petroleum) mainly or fully online for several years. 
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics)

Will these qualifications be recognised?

Here’s what Queen’s University states about its Bachelor of Mining Engineering Technology:

The BTech program is unaccredited. Graduates seeking professional licensure would need to apply to write the Board Exams in mining engineering. In Ontario, the application would go to the Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO). As with applications from an accredited program, graduates would also need to write the law and ethics exam, and complete the required supervised work experience program in order to be considered for licensure.

Neither the McMaster nor the Cape Breton web sites provides any statement about professional accreditation.

What do the professional associations say about online or distance learning?

The Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) stated in 2016 that

  • ‘PEO does not recognize online or distance education.’

Similarly from APEGA:

  • ‘The current Board of Examiners practice is that they do not recognize distance learning programs.’ 

So frankly, don’t bother to take an online program in engineering in Canada if you want to be a professional engineer.

Determining eligibility: obfuscation and confusion

Furthermore the whole process of identifying from the professional associations whether an online program would be accepted is circuitous and unhelpful. One reader of my blog wrote and told me that he had written to APEGA to ask whether the University of North Dakota engineering degree would be recognised as a qualification towards membership of APEGA. Here is the response he received:

The eligibility of any courses you’ve completed will be determined by our Academic Examiners. If the courses were completed in Canada, you will need to submit the transcripts for them to be reviewed. If they were from outside of Canada, you will need to obtain an Academic Assessment Report from World Education Services (WES).

In other words, spend several thousand dollars in tuition fees, THEN we will tell you whether we accept your qualifications or not.

Note that the UND program had already been accredited by the ABET in the USA. Alberta’s APEGA was in fact prepared to make an exception for this degree, but this was not acceptable to Ontario’s PEO. Discussions were to continue with the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board, but I could find no record of such discussions in a search of their recent documentation. So who knows whether or not the UND degree will be accepted by which provincial association?
Or let’s say you are a recent immigrant with an engineering degree from another country. In Alberta, the Alberta Council for Admissions and Transfer (ACAT) is the official body that provides information on admission requirements to engineering programs in Alberta universities and colleges. If you go to the ACAT web site to find out whether your degree would be accredited in Alberta, you are referred to another web site, The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials. They then refer you back to APEGA.

Why it’s a scandal

Without obtaining a P.Eng. from the professional engineering association in a particular province, it is difficult if not impossible to get a job as a professional engineer. Of course such associations are important to ensure that engineering is being done professionally. Nobody wants their bridges to collapse or car parks on shopping malls to crash into shoppers below (Oh, wait – both of those did happen recently in Ontario).

Why we need high standards in engineering qualifications: Elliott Lake shopping mall collapse

But are these organizations making it unnecessarily difficult for people to qualify as professional engineers? From the 120 comments or so to my blog, there is strong evidence that they are. Yet at the same time we have great hand-wringing from employers, especially, about the lack of qualified engineers.

Let’s be clear about this. This engineering gap is not going to be met purely from high school leavers going into engineering programs at conventional universities. The demographics mean that many of those already working at the technical level in engineering will need upgrading and further qualifications, many while still working – hence the brave but unaccredited program from Queen’s University in mining engineering. Presumably employers will take these graduates even if the PEO holds its nose and sniffs at them because the program was done online.

I heard recently on CBC radio there are currently 18,000 engineers in Canada who came from Iran, one of whom was the supervisor for the construction of the CN tower in Toronto. We will need more engineers from immigrants who should be able to upgrade their existing engineering qualifications online while working at a lower level, without having to start from scratch.

I am not arguing that all engineering can be done fully online. Hands-on experience with equipment and laboratory work are essential. However, increasingly we are seeing co-op programs where employers provide that hands-on experience, often with more advanced and newer equipment than the universities have. Furthermore, more and more engineering is itself virtual (automation for driverless cars, for instance). Simulations and animations are increasingly replacing hands-on training. All the theoretical components of an engineering degree can be handled just as well online, and probably better, than in a face-to-face lecture class.

APEGA and PEO, like many professional bodies, are basically a closed shop or guild that restrict entry to create shortages so that members then can charge higher professional fees as contractors. More importantly they are often run, on a voluntary basis, by older engineers who are blissfully ignorant of new developments in engineering education. At a time when we need more highly qualified people we need greater flexibility in accepting credentials from other countries and more openness to online and distance education qualifications.

It’s time the professional associations in engineering realised that this is the 21st century and recognized appropriate online qualifications.


  1. How I had to move back to Germany.

    I am an Engineer by training but never became a P.Eng. This had multiple reasons. I did all my engineering education in Germany, which I always believed has a high standard on education and a very good reputation in engineering. I admit the German education system is a bit confusing as of before 2000 there was basically no Bachelor/Master system in place. Germans went to Engineering school and left after 4 to 5 years with a so called Diplom-Engineer degree, which is actually internationally recognized and comparable to a Master degree. How is this possible? Imaging, in Germany one semester is actually 6 month long and not 3 month like in Canada. While Canadian students have the summer from April to August off, Germans go to school full time! Germans have a winter semester (October-April) and a summer semester (April-August). That’s why we can make a “master” in 5 years and now these days a Bachelor in 3.5 years.
    So what is the problem, I studied very hard and fast and finished all my courses in 4 year. Yes this was possible in Germany. My Degree was not recognized as I was only enrolled for 4 years not 5 years. Another problem I came across is that I was not able to provide the documentation they ask for. So called “Transcripts” did not really exist in Germany before the Bachelor/Master system was put in place. As an example, my final degree says “Process Engineering” mark “A” but it doesn’t say how long that course was and it doesn’t say that this mark consist of 8 combined marks from different 8 courses, which I have taken over 4 years. My university in Germany was not willing to provide me with additional documents for many reasons I don’t want to explain here. The Canadian site had no interest in listening to my explanations or look deeper into this issue. Unless the P.Eng Institution has a direct agreement with a specific university in Germany, it is literally impossible to get a P.Eng.
    So if you are German and you graduated in the 90s or earlier and/or you hold a traditional engineering degree and not a Bachelor or Master degree, you will have significant issues to gather all the documents required. I gave up on it and moved back to Germany as my career changes have been much higher over here as they would have ever been in Canada.

    • Thank you, Philip. What a sad story and what a good example of the inflexibility of the professional engineering associations. It is Canada’s loss. I hope you are having a great career in Germany.

    • Hi Philip,

      this is really shocking to me. I would have thought there would be no problems for a German degree to be recognized.

      I have a follow up question: you posed the quesiton “How is this possible?” regarding a Master’s level degree. This suggests that it is not possible to get a Master’s degree in 5 years in Canada. Is this true? It was my understanding that a Bachelor’s degree is 4 years and a Master’s only 1 year in Canada. So this would add to 5 years in total to get your Master’s.

    • Philip – What kind of Engineering work were you hoping to do in Canada and in which Province? Of course it’s a good personal milestone to be licensed but if it’s outside of building design engineering consulting where you’re required to sign / seal designs and letters of assurances, then there’s a good chance you may not need an Engineering license. I’ve worked with several people originally from Germany who did their Engineering degree but work as Construction Project Managers, Project Managers, Directors, Coordinators, etc. What they told me is that they had problems obtaining their Engineering license here too but realized for their work, they didn’t really need it anyways.

    • Hello Philip,

      I have a feeling that you got into some kind of dire strait with paper-pushers at the association. At PEO the process is very straight forward. the academic committee assesses your faculty transcript. They have direct contact with universities around the world and they can check your background. No Government agencies are doing it, only the association. I know that the Government is pushing accreditations through those agencies, but it is wrong. Which association do you apply to?

      • Many thanks, Zoran, for explaining clearly the process for apply for professional membership. This discussion thread started though because applications have been turned down because one or more courses had been taken online.

        I can understand the need to do many of the hands-on courses in a lab but can you clarify though one thing for me? Will PEO accept theory or math courses done online, as in other professions? And are there not areas of engineering now where most of the work is ‘virtual’ rather than hands-on, such as remote control? Why can’t these be taught online, with a little imagination? It’s the blanket refusal to accept any online qualifications that concerns me, but let me know if I am wrong.

        • Tony,

          I am not aware of any cut line where online courses would be acceptable or not. I know that some of the faculties offer online courses. I am of the opinion that such an opportunity is a great benefit for people who cannot attend class in person. It all might be in the fact that the exam has to be done in the old fashion way. what I know for sure is that if, for example, an applicant has a degree in chemistry (not chemical engineering) and works in a treatment facility applying engineering principles in his work, then the association would invite him/her for an interview where the applicant would have a chance to present his work and knowledge. If satisfactory the association can issue a limited license. Another option is to prescribe a couple of subjects to reach a qualification in that particular field. the list of subjects would be discussed with the candidate to help him/her to utilize previous knowledge and avoid another dead end. I think it is fair.

        • Tony,

          in addition to the above, the number of class hours and lab hours have to be also counted in when the academic assessment is don. My wife is an architect and OAA has a program called BEFA (Broadly Experienced Foreign Architects) and for this program, she had to compare each of the subjects (class+lab) hours to Canadian program to show that her program has minimum 2,000 hours in total. She had about 3,000 as her program back in Sarajevo is a master’s program. Now it is verified by a “Bologna agreement” too. I believe that the reason for being turned down is in this class+lab hours. Even math classes here have lab hours. We called them back in Europe trainign or exercise (Vjezbe in Serbian).

    • I would like to share my experience in obtaining a P.Eng as a German in Canada. First of all, I would like to express that I really do like the idea of a professional association regulating engineering. I wish Germany would have that. However, I do not like the way how its been done in Canada. I am a German mechanical engineer, also holding the traditional German 5 years academic degree called “Diplom Ingenieur”. I went trough the same difficulties as Philip did. Gathering documents in Germany was almost impossible. Universities are not willing to send private information, such as grade summaries or certificates to third party organisations. It took me over a year and multiple visits to in Germany to convince my university to do that. The association I applied at requested all foreign degrees to be verified by World Educational Service (WES). So, I had my documents sent there. WES confirmed in their report, that my degree is equivalent to a Canadian Bachelor and converted my German grades into a GPA 4.0. That made me happy and I thought no problem anymore with the provincial association. It took 13 months for the association to respond to my application. The result was that the Board of Examiners (BOE) found my academic records not sufficient and therefore had assigned to me the (FE) Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, no further details provided. I contacted the association and was told that my transcripts showed deficiencies. When I asked what the WES report was for, when it’s just overruled and was told that WES only verifies that foreign degrees are indeed obtained at a university and not some sort of college. I payed $400 for that report and it was pretty much for nothing. I then asked what these “deficiencies” are and shortly later received a list of 2 courses I supposedly do not have in my transcripts. I called again the association explaining that the German translation of the courses does not match the typical Canadian course names and that I have proof that I have covered these topics in the courses shown in my transcript. Another person from association then told me it doesn’t matter if I can proof it, I am still a so called “International Educated Applicant” and therefore must do the FE Exam. He also said all “International Educated Applicant” must do the FE-Exam. I then asked why this is not in the application guideline and why did take 13 months to inform me about that. The person on the phone told me that sometimes the BOE waves the FE-Exam, if the applicant can show 10 years of valid engineering experience. By the times I applied I had 8.5 years valid experience and by the time the decision letter arrived, I was just 4 month short of 10 years. I then asked, why is this also not in the application guidelines and was told that the BOE makes these decisions based on every individual application. Since I was just 4 months short of 10 years, I asked if I can just keep working for 4 month and then update my work experience. I then got told that the 10-years waiver is not a hard-written rule but rather is entirely up to the examiner. Since I was already assigned to do the FE-Exam, I had no way to get out of this anymore. My impression was that these decisions are completely arbitrary and totally depend on the individual person reviewing my application. Every phone call was answered by another person not knowing what the person before told me. I tried a couple more times to reason with the association also telling them that I know of people who do not have Canadian degrees and did not need to do the FE-Exam but I had no success. I finally gave up and started studying for the FE-Exam. I studied 6 months straight for the exam and I passed it at the first try. This is now 2 years after my initial application and 3.5 years after gathering documents. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with doing the FE-Exam but they could have told me in the beginning and I would have done it right away rather than waiting for 13 month. The correspondence I had with the association really frustrated me, as I felt there is no consistency in their reposes. After all, they have the power to do with people whatever they want. They are self-regulating and therefore have full control over the province, the professionals and the applicants. There is no place to complain or ask for help other than the association itself. Non of my P.Eng references wanted to help me or stood up for me, as they all fear the association. Nobody wants to mess with them as everyone’s career is in the association’s hands. Yes, suing them is possible but they have so much power and will make it impossible to get a P.Eng.

      • Hi, Markus
        I’m really sorry about this. This is not acceptable behaviour on the part of a professional body. I’m not sure whether it is incompetence, or deliberate to restrict entry to the profession. If anyone knows a way to appeal or make a complaint against these regulatory bodies, please let me know.

        • Hello Tony
          Thanks for your reply. I meanwhile fulfilled all the requirements and made it through the process. I don’t want to “mess” around with any of the associations I am now a member with. I do not want to be “black listed” of some sort. Again, I didn’t mind doing additional exams. In fact the FE was not even difficult, just lots of material to cover. Though, I think all applicants, regardless of where they received their education from, should do it. I met many “Canadian” engineers who just take the P.Eng as a given without any appreciation. However, what bothers me most, is the not existing transparency of the application processes, as well as the inconsistency of the responses. Also there is no real regulatory body overseeing these associations. They have the ultimate power and are pretty much untouchable. A foreigner suing an organisation endorsed by the local/federal government in a Canadian court? I just imagine the headlines and how it will look like in the eye of the public. In order to have good arguments in a court, the person should meet all requirements first. Otherwise this is going to be the headline “Foreign Engineer, who thinks is smarter than Canadian Engineers refuses to take exams and goes to court”. So the best would be to pass everything and then go to court. By the time an applicant makes it through all of these obstetrical, he or she doesn’t do it anymore. Whoever is going to do that in the future gets my respect but I hope that person has a good lawyer, has it all covered and doesn’t want to work as an engineer after loosing or winning it.

      • Hi Markus,
        Thank you for sharing. This is Cindy from Singapore. May I know which professional association you have started your PEng application ? Is it PEO or APEGA? I have moved to Canada recently and I am starting my application to PEO soon .

  2. This is Kenny from Germany .I would really like to live and work in Canada! I have two questions I hope somebody can help me :/.
    I am about to visit a University and to get a Engineering degree in either Mechanical or Chemical Engineering.
    Are these good degrees to have chances on the canadian Job Market as a German or should I go for something completly different ?
    And another question of mine :
    Are German Universities well known and renowned in Canada ? I have an offer from an english University if thats better I will go for it and get a degree from the UK (If Canadians care ) 😀 .
    Any advice is appreciated .I really want to immigrate to Canada I love BC Whistler and the Bikeparks:D
    Kind regards

  3. first of all in CBU there is no one year B .Tech Manufacturing , it takes 2 years for transfer Technologiest graduated
    and based on full time and some courses you could do online, and also depend on your background experience
    I did same program ,I have 30 years experience and P.eng need to visit me for consulting the mechanical problem
    so, what is the important is experience not the theoric information, student learning at university, you can find all
    formula in google, 50 years ago you didn’t have this chance to get formula or engineering knowledge from google,
    in that time you should go to university or Technical college to learn the theory, todays is different,even unibersities
    getting help from Internet,not anymore the university is the source of knowledge, now source of knowledge is
    Internet, then you would be able to complete a program faster than years before, even the Rating of universities is not
    a factor, as I said all information you getting for Internet, and universities just does the coordination and co-operation
    with student for more and better understanding, I am graduated for B.Tech Manufacturing making $80000.00
    and I have learned alot, to me CBU is one of best University in CANADA

  4. According to the US accreditation site for ABET, there are several online accredited degrees. However, I am not sure how ABET fits into the Canadian accreditation via Washington Accord. There is a flow chart here on the ABET site, but I don’t know enough about Canadian regulations to be confident that the degrees would be eligible for a Professional Engineer certification.

  5. Hi. I have an undergraduate degree in civil engineering, and a master degree in construction management from the U.K.

    Is my master degree accepted for P.Eng in Canada?


    • Hi Yemi,
      What province / City did you plan on working in Canada? Then Tony is correct, you can refer to the association’s website for how to apply and what is required. They usually have videos and information to help understand what is required too.

      In general though academic Construction Management isn’t applicable for Engineering licenses here. I’ve worked with many Construction Managers in Canada and less then maybe 5% of them I would say have an Engineering license so you wouldn’t even need it. This includes Construction Managers originally from Germany who I met. This is because Construction Managers aren’t designing or really practicing Engineering. They are however managing building construction and typically making a lot more money then licensed Engineers here so there’s that.

      If you wanted an Engineering license in Canada, it would be based on the Civil Engineering bachelors. Licenses are typically based on Civil, Structural, Electrical, Mechanical, Chemical, and recently Software Engineering. Most useful when your job requires you to sign / seal letters of assurances, engineering designs for building permits / tenders, and memos for government agencies. Otherwise if your job doesn’t require that, such as in Project Management or Construction Manager role, then it doesn’t require an Engineering license here.

      Being a licensed Engineer, my understanding is that you’d have come and work here for at least 1 year in a Canadian Engineering company under a P.Eng. Apply to the Engineering Association, and take a couple of courses they would assign to meet the application of theory requirements. Your past work experience in Civil needs to include practical design, and project management experience. Preferably managing people too. You’d be interviewed by the association on general engineering knowledge and to discuss your past experience. And the Professional practice exam which is a law and ethics test and essay you’d have to pass but it’s not too hard. Overall expect the process to take 18 – 24 months.

    • Just contact PEO and you will receive all necessary info. You would be called for an interview after the academic committee revies your credentials. Experience committee panel holds interviews and then recommends back to academic committee if additional exams are to be waived or not. if waived then you have to obtain 2 years of practise in canada under P. Eng supervisor. you can in menatime go for PPE but the license will be issued upon you collect 2 year of experience.
      Still, make sure you present yourself and your work in the best lights.

  6. Hello, I have Bsc and Msc in process engineering from Germany. I have worked for 5yrs. Am I eligible to have P. Eng in Canada?

    • Hi, Martin
      See my response to Opeyemi – you need to contact the P.Eng. association in one of the provinces as there is no national accreditation agency for engineers in Canada – it’s a provincial responsibility.

    • Hi Martin, please see my comment above for Yemi.

      With that said, a background in Process Engineering would mean you’d apply as a Chemical Engineer here for your license. Apply to the provincial engineering association, work for a year minimum here first under a P.Eng., take the required courses, write the law / ethics professional practice exam, and interview by the association.

      With that said, I’m not a 100% sure if you even need your license to work in the oil / gas industry besides improving your business card and email footers with the P.Eng after your name. Maybe try applying for jobs in that industry here first and see.

  7. PEO Ontario is a very bad organization that assigns you a lot of courses if you do not have a degree from Canada that makes many people find job in some other non regulated field.

    The existing engineers try to scare new people from joining the organization as it affects their ego.I hope government does something to stop this monopoly and bring up some sort of an evaluation easier for newcomers.

    The existing P.Eng’s should do similar courses every year and they will learn how hard they make the life of new aspirants.

    My friend who worked in Dubai for 5 years was told to do 4 courses directly.

    • Experience of 5 years in Dubai in any field of Engineering is much better and more solid than 15 years of experience in Canada. However, PEO look down at all foreign graduates and experience. BS degree in Engineering in Canada is 4 years and can be done even in 3.5 years with summer courses.

      • “BS degree in Engineering in Canada is 4 years and can be done even in 3.5 years with summer courses.”

        That’s simply not true. Canadian engineering schools do not have the ability to create an engineering grad in 3.5 years. Many key courses are only offered during the fall/winter sessions. Most take 5 years, 6-7 years if an internship is involved.

    • I’m not sure about PEO. I obtained my license from APEGA in Alberta. I’ve met many licensed Engineers who originally obtained their original Engineering education from India, China, UK, Germany, etc. Granted they had to work in Canada under a P.Eng for a year or so, go through the interview, testing process with APEGA or EGBC but it was done.

      P.Eng. are required to take continuing professional development (CPD) hours every year so that’s courses, seminars, mentoring, engineering journals, etc. to maintain the license if that helps.

      It’s true though if you obtain our Engineering degree from a Canadian University, in general you can go work as a Junior Engineer, register as an Engineer-in Training (EIT), and build your work experience. After 4 – 5 years, apply to upgrade your EIT to a P.Eng. by writing the professional practice exam and checking your work references. It’s a much smoother application process then just arriving here and trying to apply straight for your P.Eng. just because they don’t know anything about you but not impossible.

    • i am a foreign trained engineer. When I applied for license, PEO didn’t even call me for an interview. I went directly for PPE and that was it. Why? Because I followed their instructions and requirements. No shortcuts. For last 16 years I am voluneeting at PEO experience committee and doing interviews. I can write not one but 3-4 books out of those interviews. And I am interviewing canadian graduates too. No difference; there are good and not so good professionals. Like any other profession.

  8. I obtained my Engineering license (P.Eng.) in Alberta and then in BC in 2012. I found the process long (18 months from start to finish) but not difficult compared to getting a MBA for example. You have to follow APEGA’s process with the transcripts, professional practice exam, and work summary reports. I would say the quantity of work is comparable to taking maybe 1 or 2 side night courses. The reason why I needed to obtain my license is just because I work as a Mechanical Engineering Consultant on building projects. This includes HVAC, Plumbing, and Energy modeling design. For permitting, the design drawings and letters of assurance need to be signed / sealed by a licensed Engineer so that’s mainly why I needed to be licensed. Also sometimes the utilities and government authorities asked for signed / sealed memos, and calculations. I’ve also been through a random professional practice review with the Engineering association which was fine. They just evaluated my project work and interviewed me on what I sign / seal.

    Engineering concepts are the same throughout the world, however I respect the codes / standards are different in terms of buildings, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, Structural, Fire safety, etc. So it’s not a bad idea to have new Engineers to Canada work under a Canadian trained P.Eng. on building design projects to get used to the codes / standards and bylaws here with integrating that in to their designs. Whether as a structural, electrical, mechanical, or civil Engineer. After 1 – 2 years of Canadian Engineering experience, I met the associations Canadian work experience requirements to obtain my license.

    With that said, outside of building design consulting, my understanding is you don’t need to worry about obtaining your Canadian Engineering license to work in Canada. If you don’t need to sign / seal letters of assurances and permit drawings for your job such as in Project Management, Technology, Product design, Software, Manufacturing, Quality Control, Automation, Controls, Technical Sales, etc. then I wouldn’t worry about obtaining your license unless it’s just a personal goal to add that designation to your business cards and email footers. Keep in mind you do have to pay annual membership fees and be subject to random professional practice reviews. It’s true that you can’t legally have ‘Engineer’ in your job title in Canada without being licensed but many people who work in those other fields just have titles such as Project Manager, Electrical Designer, Controls Technologist, etc. or just become a Manager or Director then who cares. Is it the money because as a licensed Engineer, I know people in Trades, union Technologists, and of course Managers who make more then me it’s not that hard.

    Anyways I don’t think it’s a big deal but let me know if I’m missing something.

  9. Canada is confronting a deficiency of building ability. An ongoing report by Engineers Canada demonstrates development in mining, transportation, and vitality, alongside 95,000 Canadian specialists resigning by 2020. With current movement patterns not slated to fill the hole, Canada’s future relies upon supporting its most brilliant issue solvers to end up the exceedingly talented specialists of tomorrow.

    In 2011, Canada delivered less than 12,000 new designers, while India and China created a consolidated 3.5 million. The U.K. is twice as crowded as Canada, however creates seven fold the number of specialists. What’s more, no, we don’t have enough either.

    In any case, so as to build a prosperous future, increasingly youthful Canadians must be motivated to design, to comprehend through dismantling, and to take care of issues. It is up to government to set the precedent, and over to colleges and industry to lead the path in their very own fields, and through supporting the people to come. Specialists, with their blend of rationale, hounded aim and inventive creative ability, are the ones to address the difficulties the world appearances.
    The open door is gigantic, and a Canadian inheritance relies upon it.
    For Indian student,you could refer the above website for civil design training programme offering placements.

  10. Not sure where you came up with the idea that Canada has a shortage of engineers. There’s a giant glut of engineers, with most reasonably decent quality positions receiving hundreds of applications.

    Please take a look at this OSPE report:
    There is obviously a monumental glut of Canadian engineering talent.

    I personally know of several engineering grads who have spent literally years looking for jobs and haven’t had much luck. Even just getting interviewed is a big problem.

  11. “Yet at the same time we have great hand-wringing from employers, especially, about the lack of qualified engineers.”


    The only thing anyone ever wrings their hands over is pushing wages as far down as possible. There is no “lack” of engineers in Canada.

  12. I am a newly graduate of Mechanical Engineering and registered as an Engineer In Training with the PEO. Its is mandatory to gain 48months of experience to apply for a Professional Engineer License. It is very hard to get accepted for an engineering job because they are looking for an experience and tenure. I applied numerous times as an EIT or Junior Engineer etc…. but all responses I get offering me position for a Machine Operator, Sales, General Labor and other jobs will not even qualify as engineering experience with the PEO. So now I ended working as a General Laborer in a Machine Shop.

    Sometimes I am thinking that studying for a 2-year Mechanical Technology Diploma with a cheaper tuition fee is more advantageous than pursuing 4-year University Engineering Degree because you can land a job almost immediately than taking a mind gruelling Engineering Degree and in the end landing a Diploma job.

    Well, until now I am still trying and even stating to my cover letter that salary is not an issue because my goal is to acquire a qualified experience in engineering. I have to start somewhere. I know there lots of Engineering graduates who can relate.

  13. Hi.

    I obtained my Undergraduate and Master of Science degrees in Mexico. I’ve just obtained my Engineer-in-Training membership (APEGS) a couple of months ago with no additional courses to take. I’m currently studying to write the PPE exam and after that, just reporting experience (I have 5 years outside Canada and 2 years in Canada, so, shouldn’t be a problem).

    Quoting the book “Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience” by Andrews et al:

    “A report prepared for Engineers Canada in 2013 by Ranstad, predicts that a shortage of experienced engineers will occur over the next two decades. This report estimates that 95000 professional engineers will retire by 2020, and they cannot be replaced fast enough by experienced Canadian or internationally trained engineers”

    So, there you go. Shortage of engineers in Canada is a fact. IMO, the strength of canadian engineering regulation is the code of ethics, and strict regulation. Ironically that’s a weakness too. Canada simply cannot compete in terms of inovation and competiveness with USA for example, where “weaker” regulation exists, but the monetary compensation can be great depending on your talents and skills and not on being a member of an association.

  14. The degrees you mentioned are technologist degrees, not engineering degrees. I believe that someone who had graduated from a technologist program would then need to apply and graduate from an engineering program to meet the academic requirements of the engineering associations. Typically a technologist program will get you a year or two head start in an engineering program.

    Also, there’s a list of accredited engineering programs on the Engineers Canada website:

    You mention that online learning may be better than in-class learning, but something that isn’t mentioned or really talked about is that brick and mortar engineering programs really encourage learning through face to face teamwork With other engineering students.the workload given to an engineering student is pretty intense and one of the best ways to handle it is through teamwork. This is just one of the components that help students prepare for real life engineering where almost every licensed P.Eng must work together in multidisciplinary projects as a team member.

    I’m not saying that online programs are a bad idea, I just wanted to illustrate another side of the coin.

    • We have now a huge number of technologists applying for a “limited license” at PEO.
      I don’t know where is coming from having in mind that to be eligible for licensure you have to complete and obtain a degree in engineering from university. Several years ago the Ontario Government introduced a mandatory Building Code licensing. It was created to get contractors under control but ended up giving technologists right to design by obtaining the BCIN license. PEO fought back and won so P.Eng s are excluded. Now they are going one step more looking for limited license of P.Eng. And there is a hole in the system: by obtaining a P,Eng. they can get a Certificate of Authorization and then employ or contract an engineer to cover the rest that they are not allowed for. Even CET association recognize that a technologist can work under a P.Eng supervision , not the other way around.
      Having a college first semester drop out for a premier, everything is possible.

  15. I strongly disagree with what’s written here. Just my two cents from a P.Eng with foreign degree. I did my BSc in Civil Engineering in Poland and MSc in England. I then worked as a structural engineer in the UK for 4 years and moved to Canada. I started in Toronto, got a job almost immidietaly (more a technician job, designing steel structures under P.Eng supervision). I contacted PEO to register as an EIT, hoping to get P.Eng soon. They assigned me additional exams (8 exams) at Ontario Universities. The cost was outrageous as I was international student (didn’t have my permanent residency yet), the cost would be about $12k. I wasn’t happy with my job but had some money in my pocket (what I managed to save during my UK period) so I decided to quit, jump into my car and drive to the west. Didn’t even have a plan. Stopped in major cities on my trip. I was offered one job in Regina (didn’t accept) and one in Saskatoon on my way, just meeting people and recruiters while having fun. I decided to go to Calgary as it was always my dream. The problem was it was the beginning of the downturn so I didn’t expect much. I met one P.Eng while in Canada (I wasn’t even looking for a job yet) who offered help. I started working for him. He was paying decent wage (circa $80k) and I was doing engineering work under his supervision. I registered with APEGA and got additional requirements: pass FE exam (that’s USA exam!!) and obtain additional 2.5yrs of experience (despite having already almost 5yrs). I took the FE exam and passed it. I had P.Eng to supervise my experience and give me good references. Finally, after 3 years in Canada, I managed to get my P.Eng. it was hard but well worth it. And it’s not supposed to be easy. I used to work in Poland, UK, Germany and Sweden. I find Canada to have one of the highest engineering standards. And incidents like Elliott Lake will only make it even harder. Even now plenty of engineering associations started recognizing designated structural engineers. BC requires major buildings to be designed by Struct.Eng, P.Eng is not enough. It’s going even further than that. I know plenty of people with foreign engineering degrees who never managed to get their P.Eng in Canada, they work as technologists. I also know plenty of engineers who decided to leave Canada because of that, including some good German people. I now employ a foreign engineer who’s having the same problem. and I feel like online engineering courses are not enough. A good engineer needs to sit through labs and work on problems in groups. That’s engineering job. It’s like teaching a surgeon how to cut online. It just doesn’t work. “Hey I’m doctor xyz I got my degree in cardiology online, you’re going to be first patient but don’t worry, I’ve sat through online classes and watched some YouTube videos” you get the idea. Furthermore online exams give plenty of room for cheating (just from my experience when doing continuing education online). Nevertheless, I have no regrets and Canada has been good to me. I make good $$$, have a house, family, drive good brand new cars, have regular holidays abroad, save for my retirement and invest money. I make much more than I was ever making in Europe. It was all worth it and It’s all good. It’s supposed to be hard. No complaints.

    • i didnt read your post before I posted mine. I repeated yours so much. Its good, we both came to the same conclusion. Licensing is suppose to be hard. Engineering work is hard.

  16. Hi,
    I think academic accreditation is a scandal and for which engineering graduates around the globe are suffering with their license and accreditation. I have completed my Bachelors with honors in Civil Engineering from UK and moved to Canada because tories in UK didn’t leave much of an option for international students to get work permit in 2013.
    Going forward i came to Canada and applied with APEGS for EIT, since i believed my degree is accredited under Washington accord and APEGS acknowledges Washington accord. But under public notes its said ‘further learning required’. So APEGS came and said my application requires an academic review, and i said wait why do you require and academic review? (the review is expensive) and what is the basics of this review? isnt the degree verified from WES, isnt my program listed under Washington accord? Review means you are questioning the authenticity of degree and Washington accord.
    I then went to study and research the Washington accord accreditation process and principles, why, because in general the duration of a bachelor engineering degree in UK is 3 years and in North America or Canada is 4 years. Does it mean engineers from UK don’t have any engineering knowledge or do they not study enough engineering that’s why Washington accord says it requires ‘further learning’.
    I studied graduate attributes of Washington accord and found my course all the attributes of the accord 12 elements, supported by knowledge profile WK1-WK8 and level of problem solving WP1-WP7 and course i studied covered all the core elements of Civil Engineering (structures, geotechnical, water, survey and bit of transport) compared to Canadian course where a graduate studies more of non core elements of civil engineering which makes the course long additional 1 more year. Coming back to ‘further learning’ if studied Masters program after bachelors my degree would have fully accredited under Washington accord (but how UK stopped giving work permit to international students until they found a job within 3 months after their graduating and company hiring them providing them with sponsorship else they leave the country?? as international student i lose everything money invested, cant practice engineering in the country where i learnt) moving forward but if my certificate read Bsc (Honors) Civil Engineering instead of Beng(honors) Civil Engineering this same three year course is fully accredited under Washington accord and APEGS or any professional body awarding engineering license will have accepted B.Sc degree and qualifying me for EIT.
    Difference between B.Sc and B.Eng is in B.Sc course a student studies more of diverse elements of civil engineering subjects like urban planning, construction management but less of structure, geotechnical (not going enough in depth) like B.Eng. Everyone on the forum is welcomed to check this by your self Engineering Council UK.

    In Washington accord accreditation there is a question mark i consider this to be a bottleneck while WES says my degree is equivalent to 4 years of Canadian degree!! Confusing. As for professional bodies i think with this technological advance age they need to upgrade themself i have seen professional bodies asking international Engineer with more than 8 years of experience with WES accredited degree with no deficiency in academic assessment telling them to write technical exam, questioning there integrity and experience?? Still an international engineer or immigrant would do it because they a need job, they have the resilience and patience, its time for professional bodies to look, question and review their process if the applicant really needs to write a technical exam? if they have no deficiency in academic assessment? Why EIT takes time for international graduates to come? And without EIT which companies are hiring engineers here in Saskatchewan, Canada?

  17. I have a new complaint to add to the list for PEO. The technical exams that they make people write are not the same exams that students write in school in an engineering program. The PEO exams are far more difficult and exceptionally “cruel” in that the amount of material that needs to be memorized usually includes two or three courses worth of material, and no part marks are given for wrong answers.

    As an example, let’s say you’re doing a math exam. In university, you would do a course in calculus 3 separate from a course in differential equations. You would get tested on each subject separately. With PEO, they lump both of them together into the same exam. Trying to remember two entire courses worth of math knowledge is quite a challenge.

    Then there’s the issue of marking and the lack of transparency there. You’re never told what mark you got on each question, only the final percentage mark, which always seems to be a round number. ie: 60%, 70%, and so on. Isn’t it curious that every mark is a nice round number? Well, not when you consider that to the PEO, every question is either “right” or “wrong” with no in between. So if you do a math question that involves two pages of writing to reach the solution, and you mess up a sign on your final answer, that counts as 0. Naturally, the exams are constructed in such a way that every question is long and made to be deliberately tedious. Every question requires at least a full page of written work to solve, if not two… thereby encouraging failure.

    • Hi Chris, I am not sure what PEO exams you are writing. Except for Law and ethics (PPE), PEO has no other exams. All confirmatory exams prescribed by PEO are regular courses offered through universities. For example, if after the interview you are prescribed 4 confirmatory exams, and you pass two of them with over 70%, the other two are waived. Also, you will be given a list of subjects to choose from.

  18. I am a P.Eng. in Ontario and Alberta (dormant license) for 20 years now. I finished my education in former Yugoslavia (Sarajevo) in water resources at civil engineering faculty in 1985. As some of people before mentioned, European “style” of education is quite different than here and quite often we are facing some kind of discrimination when it comes to eligibility for licensure. However, now it is my 16th year that I am volunteering at PEO in Experience Requirement Committee (ERC) doing interviews with applicants trained outside Canada as well as Canadian graduates who ended up in non-engineering (i.e. real estate management) fields or doing work in filed that they are were not trained for. But, they want to obtain the license so PEO has a way to give them an opportunity to prove themselves through an interview. I have interviewed approximately 50 applicants per year. I can simply say that, like in any other self-regulated profession there are good of not so good professionals regardless to schools they finished. Sometimes they would be coming from exactly the same school.
    I understand that here you are talking about online education and if it is to be recognized as in class ones. Well, PEO is getting into a mandatory education credits program where those courses are accepted. On the other side, if you ask yourself can a surgeon get his license by providing a certificate that he completed an open heart operation course online, would you go to him for an operation? Certainly not, as his training has to include at least assistance in operation for some time to gain his confidence and routine. Why are we different? We are not. I had one of my colleagues who would take any piece of equipment and practise how to use it prior to going to the construction site. Then he would get all workers and demonstrate how to use equipment (it was a set of scaffolding assemblies as well as concrete drilling devices), safety procedures etc. By interviewing candidates I came across people who had no idea about safety and never got to the construction site. Also terminology or even worst, basic mathematics and units (flow, volume, and pressure) are mixed up.
    Professional associations don’t make licensing hard. When I was preparing my application for submission, I simply contacted PEO and obtained all information. Then I spent about three months to put together my portfolio. It is important to present yourself as a complete professional in your field. I am a water resources engineer meaning I have formal education and training in municipal infrastructure, flood protection, hydrology, hydraulics, irrigation, power generation and environmental protection (source of water protection). Once I had an interview in one of the largest companies here and the guy on the other side asked me if I am better in water supply or in sewage design. I responded: if you don’t understand that I have to be good in entire water resources, then let’s finish this interview now.
    To summarize; I have a feeling that many of people who wrote here, did not do a homework of getting facts about licensing simply because they are trying to make some shortcuts to the license. There is no shortcut, believe me. Our shortfalls cannot be fixed by an online course or two. It is a combination of specific education program and gradually gained experience and knowledge through practise. Experienced and knowledgeable applicants are easily recognized and usually their interviews and no longer than 20-30 minutes. Cheers,

  19. Hey Zoran,

    Thanks for sharing your experience and insight. I would say in my experience not all associations carry out interview process before they decide to give applicant confirmatory exams, and are as fast as PEO in assessment of application. I would say there is no shortcuts in obtaining license but there are quite a few unseen in obtaining license especially for international applicant given unvariable circumstances in which new resident go through when they come to Canada. I would appreciate if all associations would worked on similar platform of assessment and similar time scales, right now what i have seen is difference in assessment and association actually not giving enough respect to international applicant as an Engineer, acknowledging their degree and experience, sometimes it feels we or rather myself is treated to been as an outsider for reasons i do not want to guess. But if engineers are treated in a way as to be seen as outsider and not recognizing their skills and experience in the area they have mastered then it is sad story. Look at all the countries in Middle east they are built by international skilled and unskilled workers from around the globe and they have delivered projects that are gaint, marvelous and have achieved engineering feat year after year, how many projects do Canada have? Most of the engineers who worked on these projects in middle east had engineering degree and experience and not license, had the ability to work with diverse people from diverse background. People in privileged position should find ways to help applicants and pointing them in right direction/path which will pave a way to have sustainable professional growth and development. Right now the ground conditions are different than to what association see, not all immigrants have funds or circumstances where they can go to university and get an Masters degree and then they can get EIT for start, to get EIT in Canada is tough without any formal education in Canada. I also do not believe education in Canada is the best in the world, there are other countries who provide better and higher education to students but residency is a problem. I would have never come to Canada if it was not for family security, job and residency. The weather here is harsh too cold for any one, but immigrants are still doing best to survive and raise a family and work on there licensing requirement and professional development, may be associations should give a chance to change themselves and view application with different perspective.

    • I’m an P.Eng. in BC. Thanks for the comments. Basically it comes down to this. A P.Eng. is a license to practice engineering and represents the highest standards of engineering knowledge, experience and professionalism in the country. Many here with just their B.Eng. or BASc who are a mix of good and bad. It’s true in other countries like in the Middle East, there is no engineering license so anybody with an Engineering degree can work as an Engineer. Canada doesn’t want to allow that because the health and safety of the public depends on good engineering knowledge and skill which is where the licensing comes in. It’s not just engineering. In Canada there are professional associations and licensing for Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, etc. It separates the mix of engineering graduates with those who have become the highest standard of engineers with undeniable skills that can be depended on to take responsibility for engineering documents including building permit designs and letters of assurances. Like what others have written here engineering is hard but it’s suppose to be hard.

      • Hi Alex,
        I am not to sure what you mean by engineering is hard but from my experience what i have seen in Canada is the projects are easy to work in without challenges may be because my exposure is only in SK. But i would suggest all in the group to visit projects outside of North America and see what engineers have been able to accomplish in Europe and Asia where to work as an engineer you dont need a license to start a career and some of the structures, rail built in last 10 years there are worth a learning. This licensing thing is good but how many engineers have the experience of working in field? design? manage multiple stackholders? i havent come across any who has done anything of the above, in fact from my experience Engineers here dont have much of technical knowledge in situation where they need technical assistance they reach out to consultants (yes consultant for every scope of work) so why have a requirement for license if an P.Eng cant take design or field call and go to consultant for answers. I think there should be a requirement for license to work in consulting field but other than that there should be null, a good experienced engineer who has worked in field will know who is the good candidate when hiring for job. If i have work here in Canada i wont work as an Engineer i would rather work as a Tech because Engineers dont have any power or they are been empowered they just follow orders.

        • Hi Jimmy, many P.Eng. members including myself obtain our license while in Consulting practicing engineering design and project management including taking responsibility for our own design. I’m not sure what you mean by Engineers not having much technical knowledge unless you mean in government. Then yes there are P.Eng. members who work in government here in Canada who use consultants from the private sector but that’s because they have transitions to more on the owner’s representative side or pure project management. Most P.Eng. members I know here do work in Consulting though. I agree there is really good engineering outside of North America. My family is from Japan for example and I’ve gone back several times. That’s why many engineers who come to Canada apply and register as P.Eng. members here and their past engineering experience outside of Canada is taken into account. On the Tech side I don’t blame you as part of me wouldn’t mind taking it easy, going down to a tech level, just doing the work, and making only a little bit less money. Many Technologists are unionized an get paid over time and it’s a good way of working sometimes.

  20. Hi everyone
    I am not sure if someone can help with this inquiry but not sure where to ask anymore .My partner is the process of finishing his Master’s Degree in electrical engineering in Rome and then moving to Canada to join me here .He is looking at doing his thesis research in the railway sector but he would like to do this with an engineer or a company in Canada .It would be much easier and better for the future to do the thesis in English and with some guidance from someone here in Canada.We never thought this would be so difficult and we encountered only closed doors.He is not asking anyone for employment but simply to shadow and engineer here or get some guidance in doing the thesis .
    Does anyone have any advice for us ?he is set to graduate in March of 2021 and would mean a lot for us to just have this opportunity for him while he is here to do the thesis here and not have to go back to Italy for that

    Thank you kindly

    • Any job posting for the rail companies has literally 1000s of applicants right now and I’ve never in my career heard of an engineer ‘shadowing’ at a job. I’m sorry to say this but he is going to have an incredibly difficult time find any thesis opportunity, let alone work in that sector. The best bet for electrical engineering in Canada is to get in with a technology firm right now.

  21. I do hope that the current situation of the world will cause the bodies to rethink their stance on online and distance education. The situation has forced many of the aforementioned respected institutions to near completely rely on the internet to continue their academic missions.

  22. There is definitely not a shortage of engineers in Canada right now. As recent P. Eng born in Canada I’m struggling to find full time work. Most jobs I apply for have hundreds of applicants, some thousands. I’d argue it needs to be harder for foreigners to get their professional designation so that we stem the inflow of foreign engineers and avoid making the oversupply problem here even worse. The last thing Canada needs is more foreign engineers competing for decreasingly available jobs, pushing wages down even further, and making it harder for people actually from here. Anybody who thinks there is a shortage is utterly delusional. All the engineering work is in the United States now.

  23. It is a combination of specific education program and gradually gained experience and knowledge through practise. Experienced and knowledgeable applicants are easily recognized and usually their interviews and no longer than 20-30 minutes. Cheers,

  24. In 2023, it seems the engineering job market is heavily saturated. There is no shortage of engineers, I must say. New grads are making $50-60K a year. Doesn’t sound like there is a high demand.

    Supervising the construction of CN tower means nothing. Most of the engineering design work is done prior to construction. Supervision of construction means he’s just a construction manager. He needed to bear little professional liability, if any at all.

    I am a registered P Eng in Canada and PE in the USA. We need people who are educated here, not only that we know their academic qualifications, we know they are culturally more-or-less North American, so that we can work with together better.

    Before you call me a racist, I am born and raised in China. My dad was an engineer turned into business person, and he has seen a lot of corruption. The types of corruption that put people’s lives at risk.

    I generally distrust engineers not trained in the West. China is a corrupt country. Iran, well, they are a nuclear threat, and enemy of the West. Assessment of engineers from these countries should be held at a very strict standard.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here