by Lindsay Smith CPEng, Team Leader – Traffic and Road Safety at SMEC.
Earning CPEng status is a major professional milestone, and it’s something I’ve been planning for years. But as is often the case, life tends to get in the way. Since we are still taking COVID-19 precautions, I decided the time is now.
I have been an engineer for more than 20 years, and as we all know, it can be a demanding job. Juggling project deadlines, leading teams and balancing it all with personal commitments mean it’s often difficult to find time to engage in – or even think about – your own professional development.
Attaining the status of a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) is something I had thought about for many years, but I simply have been too busy at work, and home raising my son and daughter, to even take the first step.
Enter the coronavirus. If there’s a silver lining to this pandemic for me, it’s this: having a little extra time while working from home gave me the space to take steps to pursue my CPEng.
It’s widely acknowledged that earning CPEng status is an important achievement for any engineer in Australia.
The CPEng qualification is internationally benchmarked, indicating the individual engineer has proven their current competence to practise as a professional engineer.
I had done my research and spoken to my colleagues, who all recommended that I pursue Chartered status.
I was also spurred on by the knowledge that the Professional Engineers Registration Act was passed last year in Victoria, where I live. Once it’s enacted, only registered engineers will be able to sign off on deliverables.
Signing off deliverables is a significant part of my job as a technical lead and team leader. Earning my CPEng means that I will be able to gain my Victoria Professional Engineering Registration immediately without having to sift through an as-yet-unknown separate registration process.
Gaining your CPEng also entitles you to join the National Engineers Register and APEC Engineer (Asia Pacific Economic Community) and IntPE (International Professional Engineer) Registers.
What was involved
Firstly, I had to submit an up-to-date version of my CV for assessment, and I’m proud to say I was accepted and could proceed straight to the interview (because my more than 20 years as an engineer demonstrated a broad spectrum of experience).
I then had to self-assess against the 16 Chartered competencies provided by the CPEng assessors. This might sound daunting, but I actually found the process quite intuitive.
Most of the information was ‘in my head’, and it was an enjoyable and rewarding experience to be able to articulate some of my career highlights and achievements.
“I had done my research and spoken to my colleagues, who all recommended that I pursue Chartered Status.”
Next came the interview, and I have to admit I was a little nervous in the lead-up. However, the assessor discussed with me the projects I have been working on, and the process is essentially to confirm and delve deeper into the 16 competencies.
It’s much more like a conversation than an interrogation, and because it is based on work you have been engrossed in, it’s quite easy to discuss.
My interview was held using Zoom video conferencing, as my assessor was based in Queensland and I live in Melbourne.
I think having the interview this way might have been a worry a few months ago, but these days it feels quite natural – kids walking through the background and asking questions during the interview and all.
On 20 April, I was awarded the status of Australian Chartered Professional Engineer!
Now is the time to start
Everyone’s experiences of working from home are different. Some people are busier than ever. Others are finding work is steady, and not having to commute to and from work is freeing up time.
If you find you fall in the second camp, now is a perfect opportunity to work towards attaining your CPEng.
Maybe you only need to take the first step of assessment and determine which pathway is most suitable for you based on your career journey. Or perhaps you need to take some time to investigate the requirements and make a plan to achieve your CPEng in a few years.
I would recommend reading information on the Engineers Australia website and talking to your colleagues about what to expect, like I did. Getting second or third opinions and having the affirmation of your co-workers might just give you that little extra boost of confidence to make the right decisions about your own career.
It is also a great time to add to your Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Given the current restrictions, many technical seminars and even conferences are going online and are often free.
Engineers Education Australia and EA On Demand have a wide range of resources and courses. Your company might also have online learning you can complete, and all from the comfort of your home.
Personally, I’m extremely proud to have my CPEng. It marks a milestone in my career and affirms that my technical and professional abilities are aligned with best practice and industry standards.
It also shows my commitment to the profession and to continuing my development as an engineer. I look forward to seeing what opportunities it brings – locally, nationally and internationally.
Interested in learning more about the Chartered credential? You may already have what it takes to become Chartered. See the standard you’ve reached be recognised by your peers. Find out more here and start your pathway to Chartered today.
Call Engineers Australia for more information: +61 2 6270 6555. Toll Free: 1300 653 113.
This article has been edited from first publication in create – Engineer Australia’s online magazine on May 19, 2020. Read more about Lindsay Smith here.