Illegal practice FAQs
Can someone call themselves an Engineer/Professional Engineer or P.Eng if they don’t have a licence?
The term Engineer/Professional Engineer/P.Eng. can only be used by those that have been granted a licence by PEO, under the authority of the Professional Engineers Act. The title “Engineer” is restricted to Ontario licence holders under s. 40(2)(a.1) of the Act.
If someone is registered in the engineering intern (EIT) program, can they refer to themselves as an “Engineer-in-Training?”
No. The title “engineer in training” should not be used for any job title – persons who are registered with PEO as an “engineering intern” may use that title, or the abbreviation “EIT”. If you are not registered in the program, use of “engineering intern” or “EIT” are not permitted at all.
If someone is an “engineering intern/EIT” can they refer to themselves as a “member of PEO”?
No, they cannot refer to themselves as a “member of PEO” or anything similar. “PEO applicant” would be acceptable.
There’s someone at my office using “B.Eng” next to their name. Is this allowed?
Yes, “B.Eng” stands for Bachelor of Engineering. Academic degrees can be used freely on business cards, profiles and routine correspondence. However, this should be avoided on formal documents such as reports. Other designations you might see are “M.Eng” and “B.Sc. (Eng.)”. If you see B.Eng, do not assume that the person using this designation is a professional engineer.
How can I verify if someone is licensed by PEO or is an engineering intern?
You can check if an individual is a licence holder or engineering intern through the PEO directory at the following link https://peo.on.ca/index.php/directory
What do I do if I come across someone (or a company) that is not a licensed engineer (or engineering company) and I suspect they are holding out as such?
PEO has an active enforcement policy that investigates and prosecutes all reported violations of the Professional Engineers Act. If you suspect that someone is holding out as a licensed professional engineer or engineering company, get in touch with PEO’s Enforcement team via phone, email or regular mail.
416-224-1100 Ext. 1444 or 800-339-3716 Ext. 1444 (toll-free)
Professional Engineers Ontario
Suite 101-40 Sheppard Avenue West
Toronto, ON M2N 2K9
Feel free to read through our Enforcement Reporting Guide for more information:
What happens after I report an enforcement inquiry?
This information can be found in our Enforcement Reporting Guide, available online:
Are there any exceptions to using “engineer” in a job title?
There are a small number of titles in established use that may be used by unlicensed persons, as these relate to specific occupations. These are permitted because the position relates to the direct operation of equipment or a process.
Typically, if a title is protected by industry or legislation across Canada or within Ontario, PEO does not interfere with those job titles. Here are some examples of such titles:
- Flight engineer à Federal
- Train engineer à Federal (Same as Locomotive)
- Sound engineer à Broadcast/Recording Industry
- Aircraft maintenance engineer à Federal
- Operating engineer à Provincial (Technical Safety and Standards Act)
- Hoisting engineer (certified) à Provincial (Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act)
- Financial Engineer à Non-confusing
Similarly, if there’s been an adverse court decision with respect to a job title, that may also lead to a narrow exception as well.
If you unsure about a particular title, please get in touch with a staff member in enforcement.
What about the title “software engineer”?
Software engineering involves the design or analysis of software that both requires the application of engineering principles and where use of the software impacts the health, safety or property of its users. PEO considers non-licensed use of “Software Engineer” to be a violation of our Act. Council’s position is below:
Approved Council policy regarding software engineering
That Council approve the following proposed working definition of software engineering:
Software engineering is deemed to fall within the practice of professional engineering:
- Where the software is used in a product that already falls within the practice of engineering (e.g. elevator controls, nuclear reactor controls, medical equipment such as gamma-ray cameras, etc.);
- Where the use of the software poses a risk to life, health, property or the public welfare; and
- Where the design or analysis requires the application of engineering principles within the program (e.g. does engineering calculations), meets a requirement of engineering practice (e.g. a fail-safe system), or requires the application of the principles of engineering in its development.
If an unlicensed person were to add “ing” to the word engineer, is that acceptable?
Yes, you can use “engineering”, except in combination with the terms “consultant”, “professional”, “practitioner” or “specialist” in a job title.
Are the titles “manager of engineering” or “director of engineering” acceptable titles for unlicensed individuals?
Yes, these are acceptable titles regardless of who is occupying the role. It’s assumed that the manager or director may assign engineering work to engineers under his or her supervision, and that those engineers may delegate portions of the work to unlicensed co-workers in accordance with the supervisory exception under the Professional Engineers Act.
There are engineering interns (EITs) at my workplace, can I refer to them as “junior engineers”?
No. engineering interns (EITs) cannot use the job title “engineer” as it is a violation of the Professional Engineers Act. The title “engineer” is restricted to Ontario licence holders under s. 40(2)(a.1) of the Act. As an EIT, they are not yet licence holders and should be aware of the fact that they cannot represent themselves as such.
What happens if an engineering intern (EIT) is hired in a position over an engineer?
An EIT can be hired over a licensed engineer, as long as the employer is mindful of section 12(3)(b) of the Act. If the EIT is performing work that is considered to be within the practice of professional engineering, a licensed engineer needs to assume responsibility for the work that is being performed. So in theory, you can hire a several EITs but there must be at least one licensed engineer assigned to take responsibility for any engineering work done by any unlicensed employees.
If an individual is licensed in another province can they call themselves an engineer in Ontario?
The job title “engineer” is not permitted in Ontario by those licensed in other provinces, even if it is qualified by a province or licensing body designation. “Engineer” is restricted to Ontario licensce holders under s. 40(2)(a.1) of the Act. On the other hand, the designation P.Eng. is permitted by persons licensed in other provinces if they are qualified by the use of a province (e.g. “B.C.”) or licensing body (e.g. “APEGBC”). For example, let’s say hypothetically you had a role called traffic control analyst. If the successful candidate was licensed in BC, they could add the designation P.Eng. (B.C. or APEGBC) while they wait to receive their licence from PEO. After licensure with PEO, they can refer to themselves a traffic engineer and then the brackets won’t be necessary.
Can I open my own business and use “engineer” or “engineering” in the title?
Yes, but you require written permission from PEO.
Those wishing to obtain consent must provide the following information in a letter, fax or e-mail:
1. The full name and licence number of the professional engineer who will be one of the individuals taking responsibility for the engineering services provided under the Certificate of Authorization;
2. The proposed name of the business;
3. A short description of the business activities to be carried out by the business;
4. An undertaking to obtain and maintain a certificate of authorization,(if applicable);
a. If the business name contains a variation of “consulting engineers”, a further undertaking to obtain permission to use from PEO Council. This option is only available to consulting engineers or persons clearly eligible to become consulting engineers.
5. Whether it will be an unincorporated business, Ontario corporation, or federal corporation.
What is a certificate of authorization (CofA)?
In Ontario, it is a certificate that professional engineers or firms who provide engineering services directly to the public must obtain. The certificate is required to provide PEO with a means for governing the activities of entities.
A FAQ document can be found on PEO’s website:
What do I do if I suspect that a seal is fraudulent?
Notify PEO's enforcement department if you encounter this situation. You may be required to provide evidence for further investigation.