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Professional Registration: Is it worth it?

In a word: definitely. Registering with the Engineering Council as a Chartered Engineer (CEng) is a yardstick by which employers can immediately see that you have the sort of competencies they value. Not only that, but it also shows that you are committed to professionalism, have been assessed by other engineering professionals, and demonstrates that your competence may be compared with standards applicable in other parts of the world.

The process can be time consuming, so make sure that you fully understand it at the outset. It will involve long, wide-ranging and in-depth training, including at least two years on accredited or assessed training courses and a further two years getting relevant experience in your own chosen field.

The Engineering Council's website (www.engc.org.uk/) has short profiles of each type of registration, together with a list of the engineering institutions that are licensed to assess applicants for registration.

In addition, the UK engineering profession has accredited a large number of academic qualifications, which either fully or partially satisfy the education requirements for registration. These, too, are listed on the website.

Overall, registrants find that:
*It is easier to gain promotion, or a new job
*Pay compares favourably with unregistered engineers and other qualified professionals
*They are more likely to be listened to, whether in the boardroom or the courtroom, as their engineering credentials are respected
*They have access to a network of similarly qualified and experienced experts in their field Ė through their own engineering Institution. Each Institution is assessed by the Engineering Council to ensure its ability to provide comprehensive development guidance and opportunities, including keeping them abreast of job opportunities.

You might have to wait a while for the financial benefits of registration to accrue, but it will be worth it in the end judging by the latest salary survey from the Institution of Chemical Engineers (http://cms.icheme.org). This shows that chemical engineering salaries have risen by over 50% since 1996 and those choosing to work towards chartered status are reaping further rewards. A Chartered chemical engineer in their 30s can expect to earn 17% more than a non-chartered professional of the same age, rising to 38% for a Chartered professional in their 50s. Chemical engineers aged 45-54 typically earn £7000 more than their unregistered counterparts.

As well as registration, most engineering institutions also operate formal professional development schemes, sometimes including mentors to assist you. See your own institutionís website for more on this aspect of professional development, and donít forget that it all looks good on the CV too.