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  • 1.  What's in a Job Title?

    Posted 10-09-2019 08:40 AM
    We are all civil engineers, but how often do we present ourselves as such?  Most of us specialize in one discipline and role.  For me, my job title is "design engineer."  However, in conversation with someone outside the profession, I might use the term structural engineer as most folks understand what that means.  Within the profession, I might use the term construction engineer as I work for a contractor.  DC allows me to pick a discipline for my PE stamp and structural is most appropriate and yet I am not an SE.  Of course the role and hats I wear may vary by the hour: estimator, detailer, PM, checker, manager, inspector... I claim to be none of these, but these are all roles and skills that engineers encounter from time to time.  Part of being well rounded means that you have an understanding of what your coworkers are up to and can help them out when needed.

    What is your job title?  How has it changed through the years?  How does it change according to your audience, credentials, state laws, discipline or employer's description?

    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI

  • 2.  RE: What's in a Job Title?

    Posted 10-10-2019 01:57 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-10-2019 01:57 PM
    My official job title is Management Civil Engineer. As the title suggests I primarily manage employees and help to work on policy decisions rather than actual engineering. All of the decisions I make are dependent on my background knowledge as a project engineer or a design engineer. I understand the processes needed to create projects and see them through completion which helps to make correct decisions. I still tell people that I am a Civil Engineer and hold PE licensure. I don't review engineering plans or stamp plans but it is still required to hold a PE to be a Manager.

    Yance Marti P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer IV
    City of Milwaukee
    Milwaukee WI

  • 3.  RE: What's in a Job Title?

    Posted 10-11-2019 10:14 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-11-2019 10:14 AM
    Job titles have been helpful to determine job responsibilities and pay for your rank.  
    I graduated as a Structural Engineer worked as a "Designer" for 3 years. Worked in Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer with a job title "Water/Sanitation Engineer". I designed water systems for rural communities for Save The Children. Came back to the States and worked for one year as a structural engineer and branched into civil engineering starting with surveys.  Can't remember what my title was but it was not really relevant as I was not meeting clients at the time. I did survey office work and moved into predations of grading and drainage plans and hydrology studies.  I worked in this capacity for 3 years.  When I moved to another company, my title was "Project Engineer".  I was responsible for design and plan preparation, site visits, construction administration, response to RFI, cost estimating, and engineering solutions during construction due to different field conditions. Within the company, as I moved into assuming more responsibly and management, my title and pay adjusted accordingly based on the bill rate and industry.  Project Engineer is a very broad title and my official title varied based on the Fee Schedule of the Company. As I moved into ownership, my title became "Associate Principal", then "Principal Engineer", then "President and CEO".  We are a small business. If your are working for a large firm, you title would be associated with their job description.  Hope this helps.

    Annabelle Aguilar P.E., M.ASCE
    Solana Beach CA

  • 4.  RE: What's in a Job Title?

    Posted 10-11-2019 07:51 AM
    In my university days, I majored in Project Costing. Now looking back, my major and study are a sub-discipline of civil engineering, but it turned out our school issued a degree in Management.
    I kicked my career off in construction industry, mostly with contractors. I was an estimator, site engineer, QC/QA engineer, and then project-in-charge. This year I switched back to cost management work and intend to do project management. 
    I define myself as construction engineer. Basically I, in a team, can play my role making design documents into reality in jobsites. I have been exposing to contracts, costs, scheduling, quality, materials, which I think are the key aspects of construction.
    In China, when speaking of my title outside the profession, I might use the term civil engineer. Within profession, I might use the term construction engineer in my previous years and cost estimator this year.
    I'd like to ask if a person woking in construction like me could be licensed as P.E., if so, in which specific discipline.

    Jiqiu Wang R.Eng, M.ASCE
    Senior Cost Estimator
    Shenzhen, China

  • 5.  RE: What's in a Job Title?

    Posted 10-11-2019 08:38 AM
    My degree is in architectural engineering, but I describe myself as a structural engineer. But, these days my role is more of an executive project manager, which means I am also a consensus builder, psychologist, strategy guru, or motivational speaker depending on who I am talking to.

    One of the things specific to job titles that has been an interesting discussion is due to different state laws. In some states you can be titled as an "engineer" without having passed any sort of licensure exam. In an adjacent state, you may not be allowed to be called an engineer without a license. I think the engineering title generally confusing to the public and clients. If you were to compare to other professional fields, there doesn't seem to be this ambiguity for doctors or lawyers for example. 

    For a specific example, I was sitting next to a young engineer at one of the national conferences who was a civil engineer with about two years experience; his business card title said "civil engineer". I was talking to a young woman later who actually had more experience than the first person (she was getting ready to take her PE), and her title was "civil designer". Yet, to those that don't know the state laws are at the root of those differences, they might think the first professional was more experienced than the second based on title alone. (Personally, I don't put much stock in titles and believe I can learn something from everyone, no matter their title........but the reality is there are those that do, and they often are our clients.)​

    Stephanie Slocum P.E., M.ASCE
    Engineers Rising LLC

  • 6.  RE: What's in a Job Title?

    Posted 10-20-2019 03:35 PM
    Stephanie is right. You use the "hat" depending on who are you talking to. In my case, my major is Civil Engineering, but I had experience in several branches, including earthquake engineering, concrete and steel structural design, computational biomechanics, and so on. Currently, I have projects in offshore engineering, but my role is materials selection (evaluating fatigue and corrosion-resistant materials). Sometimes it is easy to say for not civil engineers that you are "one of the professionals that design and build structures". They will understand for sure; if they are more interested in what is your experience, you can give more details. Regards, AG

    Andres Guzman Ing., M.ASCE
    Associate Professor

  • 7.  RE: What's in a Job Title?

    Posted 10-21-2019 10:26 AM
    This is indeed an interesting discussion. I concur with many of the thoughts stated in this thread about the need for titles to adjust based upon a situation. Given the stringency around this profession, it is very confusing and albeit an illusionary construct. I'm reminded of an ASCE ethics opinion regarding a former member's use of the P.E. designation in email signatures and/or business cards while traveling out of state for conferences (though not licensed in all states in which he traveled - if I recall correctly the member was cited with an ethics violation and left the society), as well as a 2019 ruling from the Oregon Court system regarding the use of the term "Engineer".

    From the Oregon ruling:
    "the court opines that the word engineer has "no fixed meaning," much like the term specialist. Moreover, it says, even if an unlicensed person's use of the term could potentially be misleading, the court nonetheless finds that Oregon's complete ban on such uses is "more burdensome than necessary to protect the public from the unlicensed practice of engineering."  Source: https://www.asce.org/question-of-ethics-articles/feb-2019/

    From the ASCE ethics article: Because a business card can be viewed both as a statement of credentials and as an advertisement for business, the crucial test under ASCE's Code of Ethics is whether the member's use of the P.E. designation on the card is in any way misleading. Under certain circumstances, the use of the P.E. designation on a business card, while truthful in some respects, may give rise to an ethics violation if it creates the false impression that a member is licensed in a state in which he or she is not in fact licensed Source: https://www.asce.org/question-of-ethics-articles/nov-2007/

    Personally, Because I choose not to pursue licensing as a PE and instead pursued state construction licensing. I find myself going to extraordinary measures to avoid the use of the term engineer - though commonplace for friends and family to refer to me as one. I correct them with a smug smile  "engineering management!" I say. :). They laugh but I am serious. Because that is what my Graduate degrees are and because that is what the confusion around the title demands if one is to err on the side of caution.

    When I engage in STEM outreach (of which I am passionate) It's a bit awkward when asked "are you in science" (well, sort of but probably not like you think. but I do have a PhD), "are you an engineer (not licensed, but I work within that industry). Add in that my current day to day has more to do with contracts, schedules, and money, and research than technical design (though design is an integral part of my day, the technical is largely left to others). It makes for a bit of crisis of identity doesn't it?

    Today, when I'm asked, I say simply my passion is to create environments where people want to be. Most people don't care about specificity.

    Jesse Kamm PhD, PMP, A.M.ASCE
    Senior Vice President of Construction Management