The benefits of chartership

Materials World magazine
,
3 Jul 2017

Kathryn Allen looks at the benefits of becoming chartered.

While professional registration is open to all practising engineers and technicians who can prove sufficient competence and experience in their field, some engineers question the benefits of undertaking the chartership process and paying a yearly fee to have some letters follow their name. But, this is not the only benefit of getting chartered. 

According to the Engineering Council’s Annual Registration Statistics Report 2016, the number of new final stage engineers and technicians added to the national register in 2016 increased by 6.47% from the previous year. There was also a slight increase in the number of registrants progressing through the register, with 378 registrants progressing from Incorporated Engineer (IEng) to Chartered Engineer (CEng) – up from 363 in 2015. The representation of women on the register remains modest, but also increased from 4.87% in 2015 to 5.22% in 2016. But what are the benefits of becoming chartered?  

Credibility

Engineers who have become professionally registered gain an acknowledged credibility, not only demonstrating professional experience and skills but also a dedication to the profession and to maintaining high standards of work. 

Alasdair Coates, Chief Executive Officer of the Engineering Council, UK, told Materials World, ‘Registration means that an individual has been assessed by their peers and demonstrated that they meet internationally recognised standards of competence and commitment. This is a great personal achievement and often leads to higher self-esteem.’ 

Evidence of skill and experience improves an engineer’s CV, potentially making them more employable and opening up opportunities. Gaining chartered status can also increase your earning potential. The Engineering Council’s 2013 Survey of Professionally Registered Engineers and Technicians shows that, during the recession, chartered engineers and technicians experienced wage increases above the UK national average. The median annual basic income, not including overtime, commission and bonus payments, for Chartered Engineers in 2013 was £60,000 – a 14% increase from 2010. 

Employing chartered engineers can benefit a company by increasing customer confidence in them. Coates said, ‘For employers, hiring professionally registered engineers and technicians gives their firm greater technical and managerial credibility to clients. Chartered Engineers hold an internationally recognised title and employers can be confident that their registered employees have a personal obligation to abide by a code of conduct.’ This could lead to increased work or contracts, raising the company’s profile and allowing them, and their employees, to prosper. 

Coates also points out, ‘An important benefit for employers supporting their engineers through the process of professional registration can be a positive impact on recruitment and retention of staff. It demonstrates that the firm has a commitment to the development of their employees.’

The costs of paying institution membership and registration fees can put people off becoming chartered. However, the Engineering Council’s 2013 report claims that 64% of registrants had their institution membership subscription paid by their employer, while 59% had their registration fees paid by their employer. While this is most common for Chartered Engineers, it is worth calculating the costs of becoming chartered, whether an employer is willing to pay the fees or not. It is also worth considering that while a current employer may not pay these fees, if you were to progress to another job, that employer may do so.

A wider network

The recognition of expertise and competence offered by professional registration can translate across borders, allowing you to become part of an international community of experts. This encourages networking and the sharing of knowledge and research. It can also lead to further employment opportunities as useful contacts are created within and between institutes and companies. 

Professional registration also involves professional development, both at the registration stage and continuing once chartered status has been awarded. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is specified in the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) and refers to the continual and informal learning undertaken through the working life of a chartered professional. This may include workshops, courses, mentoring, writing papers and further research. However, it is generally up to the institute and individual registrants to decide what is the best route for them. 

Chartered Assessor Adam Steele said, ‘The three most significant benefits of becoming chartered are the recognition of competence, which translates internationally, the fact that it enforces learning – you’re continually doing your CPD, so continually learning – and finally the view it gives you into the industry. This is not only in terms of networking, but also the insight into recent and ongoing research – it builds professional interest.’ 

This commitment to developing expertise not only reinforces a registrant’s dedication to their profession, but can also help maintain personal confidence in one’s professional competence, making sure you keep up-to-date with industry developments. Becoming the member of an institute also affords benefits such as access to facilities and resources, including member publications, which can help with professional development. 

While the benefits of becoming chartered are clear, the process may put some people off. Steele offered some tips for those going through the chartership process. ‘In your application use “I” not “we” – it is about your experience and competence, not a company’s. Also, don’t ignore your life experience – applicants tend to focus solely on professional experience, but life skills outside of this are of interest to us as well. Finally, don’t panic at the interview stage. You’re being interviewed because you’ve already passed the paperwork assessment – the interview is just to check a few details and that you understand what you’ve written – we’re not trying to trip you up.’

To read the Engineering Council’s 2013 Survey of Professionally Registered Engineers and Technicians in full visit, bit.ly/2r3AYmJ

For specific information about the registration process, applicants should visit, www.iom3.org/benefits-membership