Posts filed under ‘Professional Registration’

Civil Engineering Ethics: Leaving Your Employer & Telling Your Clients

leavingA candidate of mine was given a 60 day notice that he will be laid off from his employer, due to financial conditions of the engineering consulting firm. This engineer is well-respected in his community and known as an expert in the city and county he resides. His employer asked him to not tell the firm’s clients or employees in other offices that he is leaving. He leads a small office of this national consulting firm. Assuming this engineer has no employment agreement, does he have an obligation to his firm? Does he have a professional responsibility to inform his clients?

Whether you are laid off or choose to leave your current employer, how and should you tell your clients?

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Code Of Ethics should be understood and always in the mind of its members. Engineers face situations that often put them in ethical dilemmas with their employers. Let’s look at our situations above while referencing ASCE canons.

*ASCE canon (professional responsibility) #4  states in part that one acknowledges that “clients should have the autonomy to seek professional services from the engineer of their choice. To do so, however, they must have knowledge of circumstances that might affect their selection, and they must be apprised of the options available to them.” If you are the client manager, project manager or technical leader on a project with client interaction, canon #4 suggests that you let the client know you are leaving. If you are the proposed lead of a proposed project and the client is reviewing other firms as well as yours, you are obligated under this canon to inform them.

*But, one must keep in mind canon #3. Canon #3 tells us that engineers must “issue true statements.” In upholding this responsibility, the engineer must keep in mind that he/she “will avoid any act tending to promote their own interests at the expense of the integrity, honor and dignity of the profession.” One must be careful to not speak badly of their current employer to intentionally cause them to be knocked out of contract consideration. The engineer must speak truthfully while not disparaging another engineer unfairly.

*As canon #5 informs “Engineers shall not maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, injure the professional reputation, prospects, practice or employment of another engineer or indiscriminately criticize another’s work.” An exiting employee/engineer must be honest in their assessment of the firm’s ability to continue the client’s work without him/her.  What does one say if the engineer assigned to take over the project is incapable of the role? Canon #5 could be viewed as walking a fine line.

Why is it important for your client to know you are leaving your firm? APQC asked executives to “prioritize what they value when hiring a consultant.” Of top and equal importance to these leaders, they place “firm’s experience” and “project team’s experience” with the client’s issue as top reasons to hire a specific consulting firm. Engineers and their employers have a responsibility to their clients to tell them what has happened or will happen with their project and the team. Clients understand business decisions, they make them everyday. They may not agree with the decisions, but they understand them. If they hired the engineering firm for a specific person’s political connection, the engineering firm has now directly impacted their client’s ability to perform.

Informing your clients of your departure is an ethical as well as professional responsibility. Here’s how to make that transition smoother:

  • Work with your supervisor to inform your client. You employer will want to minimize the client’s concerns.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute or your final day of employment to tell clients.
  • Inform client’s in person or by phone if an in person meeting is not possible. Follow up with an email.
  • It is also good practice to introduce your project successor and offer to help with a project transition plan.

Keep in mind that while these are your employer’s clients- as described above, the client may be there because of YOU! Always be professional!

Let us know what you think!

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Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner,

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

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January 3, 2017 at 1:30 pm Leave a comment

Professional Registrations – More Than Wall Decorations


For nearly 30 years I’ve been connecting employers and job seekers in the civil engineering industry. Sometimes I have someone who is a great fit for a position but the company does not want to interview the person. Why? Because the individual did not have a particular professional registration/license that the company felt would be valuable to the position – PE, AICP, LEED AP, PMP, etc.

Now before you fire off hate mail about the importance of professional knowledge and experience, I agree that both are important. That being said, a four-year degree and working for the same company for many years don’t mean you earned the right for job security or future promotions. Registrations are an unbiased barometer of your skills. They also illustrate your value, provide marketability and help you to stay current with industry knowledge and trends.

Show your Value
By showing your skills are up-to-date, you might be in line for the next promotional progression in your current or future role. You’re also showing your employer that you are a valuable member of the team and willing to learn new things.

You may not think you need to be marketable because you’re not planning on leaving your current employer – especially in the current job market. With the many employer market driven changes and changing client loyalty, you should want to show you’re at the top of your game.

The days of employees working their entire career with one company are going the way of the Dodo bird. Employees often leave for new opportunities. (Sometimes too soon but I’ll address that topic in a future blog.)

And don’t forget about mergers, buy-outs or downsizing. As companies try to achieve greater success with reduced overhead (polite corporate speak for fewer people), they will want individuals who are among the best in their field. Registrations are another way employers’ view that you go above and beyond what is asked by putting in the time and effort.

Stay Current
Sure you have your undergraduate degree and possibly a masters or Ph.D. You also have on-the-job training and years of experience that you couldn’t pick up from the classroom. You also supplement workplace information with seminars and journals. Registrations or new accreditations are third-party recognition that you’re keeping your expertise current. It also shows that you passed an industry’s measurement of knowledge. It’s not a joy to complete, but you’ll thank yourself weeks, months or years down the road.

Now I’m not saying that licenses are the Holy Grail for a successful career. You still need to know your stuff and prove your worth. But as the job market expands and companies search for the best and the brightest to achieve greater success, professional registrations could give you an edge over another person for a promotion or a future job search.

Do you think that registrations are valuable to augment industry knowledge or are they over-valued and not worth the personal investment? Let us know.
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Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner, View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

December 8, 2015 at 10:17 am Leave a comment

Raise the Bar for Engineering

Engineers of decades past have had more credit hours required of them compared to the engineers of today, yet engineers of today have so much more to learn than those engineers of past generations.  As a result, there is a new campaign supported by the likes of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) that is catching fire:


If you have not noticed, many engineering companies these days are requiring Masters Degrees for any candidates they consider for current or future jobs.  Why?  Today’s engineer can no longer rely solely on a Bachelors Degree and senior civil engineering staff to teach them all the knowledge and technology necessary to be successful, because they do not always understand it all themselves.   The challenges of today’s civil engineering infrastructure are much more complex than in years past, and a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering allows the engineer of today  to be more prepared to take on those complex challenges.  Universities have the continued pressure to graduate their engineering undergrads in four years, but this will not provide the undergraduate civil engineer with the knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a Professional Engineer.

Carl Mack, Ph.D,  Executive Director for the National Society of Black Engineers says, “If you want to be competitive in this global environment, in this very changing and complex world, an undergrad degree just isn’t going to cut it.”

As you will hear in the video below, education beyond the undergraduate degree has been a requirement for every learned profession except engineering.  Professional Engineering is not setting the same standards as a doctor or lawyer or any other profession that requires an advanced degree; as a result, it is time to “Raise the Bar for Engineering.”   By increasing the educational requirements for the Professional Engineer, many experts agree that this will help boost the profession to the stature where it belongs.

Take a look at the following promotional video for this initiative:

An opposing opinion was left on the YouTube page where this video was found:

“This is a misguided initiative. There is certainly very little value an engineering Masters degree would provide the practicing engineer. Most Masters degrees, and even most Bachelors degrees, are research and theory based and provide little practical knowledge for the real world. On the job experience is more valuable. To compare our profession to doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, etc. is fair, but let’s be honest, there’s no way employers are going to pay at the same level as those professions.”

This initiative seems to make sense, as the impact that engineers make on our society is overlooked for no good reason.  Their talents and skills are critical to our world, so comparing them to attorneys or doctors from a stature standpoint I do not believe is off target.

What do you think?  Are you FOR or AGAINST this campaign?

To learn more, please visit

Authored by:

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

September 13, 2012 at 8:58 am 10 comments

Steve Jobs and Civil Engineering – That’s Right. I Went There.

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

No need to get into a lengthy diatribe as to who Steve Jobs is and all that he has accomplished.  You all know who he  is and I would have carpel tunnel syndrome by the end of this entry if I tried to explain all things Steve Jobs.  Two questions for you though about Steve Jobs:

  • Do you know where he started?
  • Do you know where he ended?

Back to that in a moment.  Over the years I have conducted numerous C-Level or Senior Vice President/National Business Line Leader searches for consulting engineering firms where I have been tasked to seek and find a key leader for national or global practices that are made up of hundreds or thousands of civil engineering and architectural professionals.  Deep down amongst the two or three page detailed job description there is bullet point indicating that a Professional Engineering or Architecture license is required.  Not preferred. Not recommended. Required.

Different companies have different roles, different titles, and different philosophies on hiring.  The philosophy that a senior executive must have a professional registration sometimes leaves me scratching my head.  I am talking about executive leaders who develop winning strategies, who develop revolving 5-year business plans, who glad hand, who often accept public speaking invitations, who are responsible for leading the pursuit of projects, or who are responsible for meeting financial goals of the company.  My question is this: “Is a professional registration really necessary at this level?”

I know many unlicensed professionals in the architecture and engineering community who are operationally responsible for hundreds or thousands of employees and who know how to effectively turn a profit.  I also know many unlicensed professionals in the architecture and engineering industries who are responsible for driving millions and millions of dollars worth of revenue through the door.  I also know many companies who have needs for people like these but who turn a blind eye to these candidates because they do not have a couple of initials following their last name.   Is this an old school mentality?  Is this a company worried about perception more than actual results?

This takes me back to Steve Jobs; No degree…college drop out…yet an innovative pioneer who is a good listener and who was capable of delivering what people want- even delivering what people want before they know they want it.  Not that companies should make a habit of hiring college drop-outs, not by any stretch of the imagination;  but, denying your company the opportunity to hire, or at the very least consider a change agent or someone who can help guide the ship to its selected destination because they do not have a license, seems shortsighted.

If someone can provide innovative concepts to clients, productive and profitable business models, has strong connections and a track record of success;  if they are a good listener, and if  through the collaborative efforts of the skilled and licensed management team beneath them they could even deliver a concept to a client that they may have not thought of otherwise; if they are able to drive top line revenues and help your firm climb to heights that you may not otherwise reach,  then is a professional license at that level even relevant?

What is your philosophy? Have you hired your firm’s Steve Jobs? Or maybe have you seen the Steve Jobs of your industry join the competition only because you shuffled his credentials aside because he or she was not licensed?

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October 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm 7 comments

Engineers: Are We Too Technical to Manage?

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Founder & CEO, Powerful Purpose Associates – New Website!
Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Anthony is the author of a FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner.  Click here to read about this service.

Being a licensed engineer as well as a career development coach, I get the opportunity to coach many engineers in a one-on-one setting from entry level to high level executives.  Being able to wear both hats (engineer and coach), helps me tremendously in assisting engineers in both their career advancement efforts as well as developing their leadership abilities.  One of the most prominent challenges that I have found with engineers is their lack of managerial skills due to their technical backgrounds.

This isn’t the case for all engineers.  Some engineers prefer the managerial route to the technical, but in my experience those engineers are in the minority.  This issue is prevalent across the industry and impacts many organizations more than they realize.  Why?  Think about it.  Highly technical professionals managing large project teams with tight budgets and time deadlines.  To manage, and better yet lead, these types of project teams, certain skills are necessary including delegation, communication and the ability to gain respect from your team.  Many of us engineers, may very well have these skills, but they are buried beneath layers of analytical, problem solving, test taking, equation deriving exercises leaving us with a long windy road to navigate to become a good leader.

If you find yourself on this long and windy road, here are some recommendations to help guide you to the promised land:

  • Read and/or listen to books that will help you improve your people skills
  • Join a group or take a course on public speaking which will help you improve both your confidence and communication skills
  • Work really hard to start delegating (start by giving out small tasks at first to give people the opportunity to earn your trust)
  • Seek out a mentor that has already conquered the designer to manager transition and ask them to help you along
  • Try to slow your mind down whenever you can (i.e. take a walk outside at lunch, brain relaxing activities in the evening – working out, etc.)
  • Work with an executive coach regularly on overcoming this challenge

I hope some of these tips will help you in your transition, as I know how difficult it can be.  Just know that we are all leaders, it’s just a matter of developing those skills that we have buried beneath our technical layers.  It’s not as hard as you think once you get going!

I did refer to being a manager as the promise land earlier, but that’s only true if you want it to be.  If you’re happy going the technical route, good for you, keep going.  Managing isn’t for everyone; you have to follow your passion!

What are some things that you have done in your career to help transition from designer to manager?

August 18, 2010 at 9:24 am 10 comments

Are You Delaying Taking the P.E. Test or Getting Another Certification….Why?

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Certified Professional Career Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Read The Career Development Blog – A Newly Created Support Forum for Civil Engineers

 This down economy is providing many of us with some down time due to lack of work.  Whether there is some down time at the office or you are currently unemployed.  What are you doing with that down time?  Why not spend it pursuing a license or certification that will add value to your credentials?

I know many engineers that have the work experience required to take the P.E. test, and have even passed part one of the exam (the F.E.), however they just won’t fill out the application and sit for the exam.  People make all kinds of excuses like, the application is difficult, no time to study, I don’t really need the license because my boss signs the plans, etc.  The same goes for other certifications like the LEED AP.  I hear people saying that the LEED exam takes too much memorization and they don’t have time for that.

In the coaching world, we call these excuses “blocks” because they are blocking you from achieving a goal.  There are two kinds of blocks, interior and exterior blocks.  Interior blocks are things like self-doubt and fear.  For example many people won’t sign up for the test for fear of failure.  They think about what would happen if they failed, what would people think, etc.  On the other hand, people may have fear of passing, yes that’s right passing.  They fear additional responsibilities or attention that they would rather avoid.  So how do you overcome these blocks without a coach?  You can do some self-coaching by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is holding me back from taking the next step to achieving this goal?
  • What can I do today to help me overcome that challenge?
  • What would my career look like if I passed the test? 
  • How would it affect my salary, my job standing, my family?
  • What will my career look like in 5 years if I pass the test?  If I don’t pass the test?

Write out the answers and be very descriptive and specific.  Then re-read the answers.  Many times seeing the value of the certification in these terms will help to eliminate these inner blocks.

Exterior blocks would be things like time and money.  To overcome exterior blocks you will most likely have to put an action plan together.  For example if you say you don’t have enough time to study, set up a detailed study schedule.  Maybe you study a half an hour each day before or after work or dedicate lunch a few times a week for studying.  If you establish a plan and stick with it, you will eliminate the exterior blocks.

I hope this article was helpful in moving you closer to your certifications, now go sign up for that test!

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November 18, 2009 at 7:16 am 8 comments

Unlicensed Civil Engineers Posing as PEs

By Carol Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

manda Kolson Hurley, Executive Editor at ARCHITECT Magazine, wrote a great article:  Trust Me.  I’m An (Unlicensed) Architect.  The subheader reads “If you don’t have an architectural license, it’s illegal to call yourself an architect or perform architectural services—but people still do. Who are they, who’s policing them, and can they be stopped?”  This well written article sites enforcement actions taken by states.  It got me thinking, who is policing the civil engineering community?

As I Googled “civil engineers license violation” I found myself at the California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. They state that while they have some criminal prosecutions…Citations are an alternative to criminal prosecutions which the Board can use to enforce the laws prohibiting unlicensed practice of engineering or land surveying. When a fine is levied with a citation, payment of the fine represents satisfactory resolution of the matter. The State’s criminal and citation listings have not been updated since 2007.

In 2003, NSPE approved their guidelines for NSPE State Chapters in addressing unlicensed practice of engineering. The report, now 6 years old, reported the finding that the most frequent violation cited by State Boards was that of unlicensed practice. Has this been updated?  Are there new numbers tracking violations?  I hope to have some answers in a future BLOG. In speaking with several officers of state chapters of NSPE, I found that policing has become increasingly difficult for the states.  Self-policing by the state chapters, as opposed to relying on the individual state licensing boards is taking on a life of it’s own. Models for programs to give more support to State Licensing Boards are being developed.

With so many civil engineers still looking for work, some licensed and many not, I wonder if desperation will breed fraud? The majority of civil engineering firms now run their own employment background checks including license verification. But, what about the average individual consumer, looking to hire, for example, a structural engineer for inspection? How many check with the local licensing boards?  One would hope everyone! Realistically…probably not that many.

What do you think and what do you know?

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Trust Me, I’m an (Unlicensed) Architect
If you don’t have an architectural license, it’s illegal to call yourself an architect or perform architectural services—but people still do. Who are they, who’s policing them, and can they be stopped?

October 28, 2009 at 10:24 pm 8 comments

Engineering Ethics… Is There Ever A Question?

By Carol Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

Several studies conducted across the world suggest that the majority of engineering failures can be traced to a deficiency in engineering ethics. Specifically, someone was dishonest in their business dealings as they cut corners to save a dollar or keep a project on schedule. Perhaps they evaluated a situation that they were not competent to assess. In either case a failure occurs and an engineer’s ethics are called into question.  Is there ever a grey area when pondering ethics in engineering?

In 1995 thirty-five faculty from across the US and eight undergraduate fellows, gathered to develop engineering ethics resource material across engineering disciplines.  Numerical and ethical problems were developed with the support of the National Science Foundation.  These materials have made their way into many engineering ethics courses.  As I reviewed the civil engineering problems,  I, a non engineer, paused trying to think how to answer the ethical issues. For example, in one scenerio, a new female PE, is sent to a construction site to oversee the construction of her first sealed design (a parking garage).  After a day of heckling, whistling and additional lack of respect from the construction team on site, she returned to her civil engineering office and sought her colleagues/supervisors responses to issues she had confronted.  Getting their input she returned for day two.  Concrete is poured and a delay ensues. She confronts the construction supervisor and advised him that if a delay continues, then the poured concrete will need to be removed to avoid a structurally unsound joint.  The construction supervisor advises her that her inexperience and lack of construction knowledge leaves her with inadequate knowledge to make an accurate assessment in this case. He assures her that the joint will be sound and she is forced to make a decision to continue or place the project on delay. Under pressure she backs down. Guess what happens? Six months later a crack develops where the cold joint was and two years later an earthquake collapses that part of the garage severaly injuring people. The young PE and her company are found liable.

Some good ethical questions come out of this tragedy:  When do you let a new engineer go to a site alone?  There has to be a first time at some point. When she returned after the first day describing the adverse working conditions, should she had been sent back out alone? Should the contractor be held liable also? 

On the CivilEngineeringCentral Group on LINKEDIN, one member commented “if one has been in the engineering industry long enough, properly resolving ethical ambiguities are inevitable.” He so eloquently continues that when confronted he makes an “attempt to resolve any ethical dilemma through thoughtful deliberation first (never acting impulsively), then by calling my local PE Board for advice, who are exceptionally helpful, then finally as difficult as it might be, by confronting those who are central to the dilemma to offer an opportunity to arrive at an acceptable resolution prior to moving forward with reporting a transgression that might have crossed the line.”

The majority of us have an internal compass that moves when we are off center.  When something doesn’t feel right we know it in our gut.  We need to trust our instincts, talk with our mentors and our colleagues and make the good solid ethical choices.  As ASCE so plainly states:   Ethics is a cornerstone of civil engineering practice.

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May 11, 2009 at 8:21 pm 9 comments

To PE, or Not to PE? That is the Question.

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC

Is NOT pursuing your Professional Engineering license even an option? If you are a member of the consulting world (and possibly other worlds), the answer is “NO!”  When entering the field of engineering, especially as a consultant, pursuing one’s Professional Engineering license is a must. It lends itself to a higher level of credibility and respect, it shows initiative, shows understanding and knowledge, and it allows for a level of trust by the community within which you work that you might not otherwise receive.  Quite honestly, who wants to put the engineering of a dam or a bridge in the hands of an unlicensed engineer just because they have 25 years of experience, even if they hand off the plans to be signed by a PE?  Not me; not the public; and not the owner of that bridge or dam.  If that was the case, then I would prefer you put the prefix “Dr.” in front of my last name, as I have successfully nurtured back to health my three children time and time again after diagnosing them with headaches, colds, flu, fevers, and other various ailments. Luckily I have been able to successfully nurse them back to health; but if I make one error or neglect a certain symptom that lands them in the hospital as a result,  I’m in big trouble.   Often times I speak to engineers by self imposed title, not by registration.  They may have a BS, they may or may not have passed their Fundamentals of Engineering examination, but for some reason they have not fully pursued their P.E. license.  As a search consultant, I always inquire as to why? Here are the top three responses, with my two cents added:

A. “My college professors never really pushed registration.”

Shame on your professor, shame on the university you attended. Someone deserves a letter of reprimand.  If it’s not too late, take the FE Exam – it’s a lot of book/classroom material; move quickly so you are not too far removed from this information.  The Dean of the engineering program at your Alma Mater should be informed that s/he needs to change their philosophy.  By NOT pushing registration to the student body, they are holding back their students from long term opportunity.

B. “My boss said it wasn’t really necessary.”

If your boss is not pushing it, s/he may be threatened by you – threatened that you may advance more rapidly then them once you have your P.E.  Or threatened that you may leave as you will become more marketable to the competition.  If this is the case, get out while you can.

C. “Work/Life/Family got too crazy.”

You’re preachin’ to the choir, my friend.  Everyone is working crazy hours and is so busy at home.   That is no excuse these days…in fact, it’s 1AM on a Wednesday morning and here I am writing this article after putting in a full day of work at the office. Your employer should be supporting you in the registration process and making sure they give you the appropriate training, mentorship, and study time.  For those that were not given this opportunity earlier in your career, it may be too late. Eventually you get married, start a family, and then it REALLY becomes difficult.  GET IT DONE EARLY.

So, unless you have the desire to be a glorified engineering technician (not that there is anything wrong with that), make the pursuit of your P.E. license your number one priority early in your career.  I can’t tell you how many times I have presented a candidate who has all the technical, project, operations and marketing experience that my client is looking for, but they will not even consider the candidate because they do not have their license.  Is this closed minded?  Maybe.  Is it reality? Definitely.

May 15, 2008 at 1:45 am Leave a comment

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