The value of being a Chartered Engineer

When Tim Kent, former technical director with Lloyd’s Register and co-chair of the Technical Leadership Board, left university in the mid-1980s, he immediately started working towards his Chartered Engineer (CEng) status. Now at the end of his career, Kent reflects on the importance of Chartership.

Why did you become Chartered? 

When I was doing mechanical engineering at [the University of] Southampton, the faculty staff encouraged us to progress to Chartered status. When I went for some job interviews, one of the questions they prompted us to ask was if the prospective employer would support us in getting Chartered. It’s a professionally recognised status, and employers valued it as it demonstrates that they employ professionally qualified staff.  

How did prospective employers respond when you asked if they would support you? 

Some of them said, “Yes, absolutely. We have an affiliated scheme that will guide you down the route and make sure you get the relevant training and experience.” Others said, “We would like it if you became Chartered, but you’re on your own to work through the material.” 

The company I first joined had a monitored professional development scheme, so I worked through that and then transferred my [progress] logbook to my second employee. My third employee didn’t have a formal training scheme, but it was a good solid engineering company doing good solid engineering work, so I was able to write that experience up in the logbook. 

Do you think it is important that prospective employers offer support? 

There’s a responsibility on the older and more experienced engineers to help the next generation through the professional development process, so we retain a strong cohort of engineers.  

As a more experienced engineer [within Lloyd’s Register], I’ve acted as a mentor for individuals, for people going through a formal training scheme. It’s important to give them the appropriate assignments to progress through the various elements of the Engineering Council’s syllabus [for achieving Chartered status].  

It has happened to me that someone has come up and explained what they’re doing, and I’ve said, “They’re not really using you as a professional engineer. They’re using you as a bit of a dogsbody. So, we need to have a conversation with the people you’re working for to make sure that you’re assigned an appropriate level of technical work so you can make some progress.” 

What have been some of the benefits of being Chartered? 

The title recognises an individual as professionally qualified. Not just educated in a technical subject but professionally qualified to practice, much like a Chartered Surveyor or a Chartered Accountant does. It signals that you remain up to date with developments within the industry. We’re all required to perform a programme of continuous professional development (CPD), so your knowledge remains current, even if your role moves away from maybe being a highly technical engineer or on a design project, to managing a team of engineers who are doing that work.  

It’s important to remember that being a Chartered Engineer doesn’t mean you know everything about engineering, but you are in a position to ask the right questions in areas outside your experience in order to make a sound professional judgement. 

If a freshly graduated engineer were to ask you if they should become Chartered today, what would you say? 

You’ve got your academic qualification, but your real education starts now. One way you can demonstrate your progress through your career is to be professionally recognised by the profession. If you look around you, the majority of your senior colleagues will be Chartered. You should be working towards that. 

Learn more about gaining Chartered status by visiting the Professional Registration page.