Seeking Advice on Transitioning to Engineering Profession in Vancouver, BC

Hello everyone,

I am reaching out to this knowledgeable community as I am about to embark on a major transition in my life. I have recently completed my BEng (Hons), and while I have not yet received my final results, I am anticipating a first. I am set to move to Vancouver, British Columbia at the end of July and am eager to begin my career in engineering there.

From my research, I understand that I must become licensed as an Engineer-in-Training (EIT) with Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia (EGBC) before I can legally work as an engineer. While I prepare for this move and the necessary procedures, I have several questions that I'm hoping some of you may be able to help with:

  1. Is it possible to work as an engineer without being licensed by EGBC if I am working under a Professional Engineer (Peng)?
  2. Am I able to apply for engineering roles as long as the licensing/registration process is underway? In other words, can I start applying as soon as I’ve submitted my application for licensure?
  3. Can I begin the application process for the EIT licensure before actually setting foot in Canada?
  4. I would be grateful to hear from anyone who has gone through this process. Any insights, tips, or general advice you could share would be invaluable.
  5. I am also interested in job hunting tips specifically for the Vancouver area. Are there any particular things to look out for, any companies or sectors to avoid, or any general advice on securing a good engineering role in this region?
  6. Finally, I would appreciate any recommendations for groups or forums that are good for networking with other engineers or recruitment agents in Vancouver or Canada more broadly. 

Transitioning to a new country and navigating the professional landscape can be challenging, so I appreciate any help and guidance I can get from those who have already walked this path. Thank you in advance for your time and for any advice you may provide.

Best Regards,

Spike Wilson

  • Hi Spike 

    I believe we have some IET volunteers and members over in BC so I've asked the IET Staff contact for Canada to reach out to them for you.

    Hopefully they'll respond here soon Slight smile

  • Hi Lisa,

    Thank you so much for your quick response and for reaching out to the IET volunteers and members in BC on my behalf. I truly appreciate your support and assistance during this transition.

    I look forward to hearing from them soon.

  • I looked at this option many years ago! There are lots of reasons why it didn't happen, most of them irrelevant to you. I assume you already have residence rights sorted!

    Have you spoken to Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia? I was looking at Ontario which has a different Professional body but many of the rules are the same. The nasty surprise they gave me is that they would not accept my degree as is (the Washington Accord might as well not exist). Note that I did have my CEng by then. My degree was subject to academic assessment and I needed to get all my transcripts notarised.

    The joke at the time was that Ontario was full of engineers driving taxis as there were so many emigrating there. BC may be better, but for me, there wasn't so much suitable engineering. That was over a decade ago and I imagine things have changed.

  • Hi Mark,

    I appreciate your insightful thoughts based on your experiences.

    I've already secured my residency rights and I'm currently awaiting a response from Engineers and Geoscientists BC, having reached out to them recently.

    In the meantime, I've been seeking answers from various sources and it seems that obtaining licensure may not always be a prerequisite. There appear to be two potential exceptions:

    1. If an employer is prepared to accept responsibility for the engineering content and they have a PEng to validate your work. Although this seems as though it is a rare case and companies usually adopt this approach temporarily while people hired as technologists undertake the licensure process.

    2. If the work solely involves electronics design.

    From my understanding, it appears that electronics engineers, like myself, are grouped similarly to software engineers in Canada, meaning that obtaining licensure as either EIT or PEng isn't mandatory. Although certain roles may necessitate it, and it could be advantageous to have, it isn't viewed as essential for electronics engineering. This is based on information provided by other engineers living and working in BC on different forums. I've also included these points in my query to Engineers and Geoscientists BC for further clarification.

  • That's very interesting about the exceptions. It's something that I didn't know about. I'm a Systems Engineer, so it potentially would have been applicable to me (assuming those exceptions have always been the case).

    The one thing I do recall was that some companies where titling engineering jobs in different ways to get around the "Engineer" title restrictions. So things like system architects, solution designers, etc.

  • It is beneficial to know that companies may retitle jobs as it may be worth expanding the search terms I use when seeking work. Thank you. I'll be sure to update you on what I hear back from EGBC about the exceptions to licensure, both for your interest and for anyone who may stumble across this post in future.

  • Hi,

    I and several of my colleagues have been working in Ontario over the last couple of years (one has oved over there, the rest of us are working more or less remotely). At the start there was lots of talk about us needing PEng, but for the moment that's all gone away. What we can't do without PEng is act as final signatories - so in some circumstances we can write a final report but need a PEng to stamp it. I suspect you may find in Vancouver there's lots of engineers with a few PEngs available to put their PEng stamps on the final reports.

    Yes degree acceptance is a real pain in the PEng process. Two of our engineers involved hold PhDs, and both are CEngs, yet they were at risk of having to show they could retake and pass modules from their degrees which they took 30 years ago! The most senior of our staff working on this, a very, very, respected engineer, found that she would have to sit a technical exam in lieu of her degree as her degree is in maths not engineering. For me personally I fairly quickly decided not touch the process with a bargepole.

    Do let us know what you find in practice over there!



  • Not wanting to divert Spike's original thread too much, but there is a certain wrongness in the response that your colleagues received.

    My degree was electronics, but my domain these days is Systems Engineering. I'm pretty sure that I would fail horrifically if I had to re-take a module on electronics design! Well unless it was the design of 25+ years ago. Designing for a modern ARM is a lot different from the 68K that I studied (the first thing you notice is the lack of latches).

    I did a little digging and the signatory to the Washington Accord is Engineers Canada. However, they don't actually license Canadian engineers. They just issue guidance, which the individual provincial bodies can adopt or ignore as they wish (as long as they still meet the law).

    This is very different to the UK, where the Engineering Council licenses the various bodies to award professional registration titles on it's behalf (well, its a bit more complex then that).

  • Greetings,

    I am writing this post to share some valuable insights I have gathered from the Engineers and Geoscientists BC (EGBC) team. This information may be beneficial for those seeking to understand the intricacies of engineering licensure in British Columbia. I would also like to use this as an opportunity to respond  and  whose contributions have prompted this update.

    The EGBC team has been instrumental in clarifying my doubts. I reached out to their licensure team via email and also posted in the EGBC discussion group on LinkedIn. The response from the organization was swift, friendly and informative.

    Here are the answers to some of the questions I initially had, supplemented with additional information:

    1. Can one work as an engineer without EGBC licensure if supervised by a Professional Engineer (Peng)?

    No, one cannot assume the title or role of an engineer without EGBC licensure. However, it is permissible to work in the engineering industry under the supervision of a licensed P.Eng. In such cases, one can hold positions such as technician, technologist, or PCB designer, but not PCB Design Engineer. These roles may not offer the same compensation or benefits as an engineering role but serve as a good entry point into an organization.

    2. Can one apply for engineering roles while the licensing/registration process is underway?

    This is a nuanced area. Technically, one can apply for an engineering role before obtaining licensure. The hiring organization will determine if licensure is required for the position. However, you cannot be identified as an engineer without licensure. In practice, a company may hire you as a technologist if your licensure application is in progress and you meet all the requirements. Upon licensure, you may receive a title change and additional responsibilities.

    3. Can the application process for the EIT licensure begin before arriving in Canada?

    Yes, one can apply for the Engineer in Training (EIT) or Professional Engineer (P.Eng) licensure from outside Canada, provided all requirements are met and the associated fees are paid.

    4. Are there recommended groups or forums for networking with other engineers or recruitment agents in Vancouver or Canada?

    Some recommended groups include the Society of Internationally Trained Engineers of British Columbia (SITE BC), Electrical Engineers Networking in Canada, Engineers and Geoscientists BC Discussion Group, and Linked:Vancouver. These platforms are excellent for networking and sharing experiences.

    Additional information I have discovered is related to the recognition of my degree under the Washington Accord. My degree, BEng(Hons) Electrical & Electronic Engineering: Design for Manufacture, allows me to apply for the EIT license only. To be eligible for P.Eng, I must first license as EIT and then either gain the required amount of industry experience in a professional engineering setting under the supervision of a licensed P.Eng, or undertake a master's degree in engineering.

    One question that arose during my research pertains to the appropriate phrasing on my resume. While I cannot identify myself as an engineer without a license, I am currently seeking clarification on how to denote my previous engineering roles on my resume. I will provide an update once I have more information.

    I hope this post provides useful insights for those navigating the engineering licensure process in British Columbia. I will continue to share new information as I discover it, with the aim of assisting others in the future.

  • No, one cannot assume the title or role of an engineer without EGBC licensure.

    It's not actually quite as black and white as that. I don't think you'd find any problem finding work in Vancouver (or elsewhere in Canada) as a PCB design engineer without PEng! CEng is quite a good comparison from my experience, the sort of work where you'd tend to find CEngs in the UK (senior signatories in power infrastructure, transport infrastructure, probably military engineering, public safety related systems) are where you'll find you may need PEng. For average electronics and software engineering it will be very surprising if anyone ever asks for it.

    To give an idea of the level we're talking about, without a PEng I technically advise a Government agency (who are pretty hot on this stuff) on the correct engineering to implement a railway safely, and I independently assess other engineers work in this field. What I can't do is put the final signature on (e.g.) the authorisation or support to place the railway into service, we need a tame PEng for that. We're talking seriously senior level.

    Just for fun I had a quick look at a site for engineering jobs in Vancouver, most didn't mention PEng at all, but I did find one Lead Engineer (so a senior engineering role including "Supervision and mentoring of junior and intermediate level engineers and designers") which specified "Preference will be given to P.Eng or P.L.Eng. registration". Which absolutely ties up with what we found and with what my Canadian colleagues and family have told me. (My brother was a very, very senior software systems engineer there for 30 plus years before he retired - he has a much bigger house and yacht than I do! - he was PEng for a while but gave it up many years ago as he realised he never needed it. I probably shouldn't say this, but he'd already given up his CEng MIEE long before that for similar reasons...)

    So I'd suggest get out there and find out for yourself whether you really need it in the field and roles you want to go into. Or if you don't want to take that risk (which is fair enough), a good start would be to roam the job boards from over here and see what employers are actually asking for. Remember that the Engineers and Geoscientists BC does not necessarily represent the whole engineering industry over there, just as the PEIs don't represent the whole engineering industry over here. (I give the same answer, for the same reason, to students who believe they can't get a job over here without CEng - the PEIs and your universities aren't the ones that are offering the jobs, see what actual employers are asking for!)

    What is FAR FAR more challenging is getting a work permit! I assume from your first post you have that sorted? If not I'd suggest it's MUCH more important to work out how to make that happen. And if you have managed to get one, without having an employer already to sponsor you, that would be interesting and useful experience to pass on. (I had the advantage that I had a government agency over there that really wanted me to do work for them, and my employer has a base over there so any work over there counts as an intra-company move, and even so it was a challenging experience - and still only authorises me to work for a single employer.)

    Good luck,