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Competency-based assessment

The work experience requirement for licensure can take a few forms: number of hours worked under supervision of a licensed engineer, a competency-based assessment (CBA), or a combination of the two. See our work experience table for specifics on what method each regulator uses.

Competency-based assessments evaluate applicants on the required skills that you must demonstrate to become licensed. Most regulators’ licensing process contain a CBA approach where the applicant provides detailed work experience examples against specific competence categories. Regulators in six provinces use a set of a pan-Canadian key competencies for certain areas of practice: Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

There are seven broad categories of competency: technical competence; communication; project and financial management; team effectiveness; professional accountability; social, economic, environmental and sustainability; and personal continuing professional development (CPD). Within these categories, there are a total of 34 specific pan-Canadian competencies, non-discipline specific indicators, and specific technical indicators for certain areas of practice.

It is extremely important for engineer hopefuls to match their work experience to the required competencies for their regulator. The applicant must provide an employment history and a self-assessment of their own competence levels for each pan-Canadian competency according to a pre-determined rating scale. 

Your engineering mindset is your advantage here: make sure you understand and organize the requirements as early as you can. Learn exactly how your regulator evaluates work experience, understand each competency and its indicators, and start to map your past and future work experience. Early planning and design will pay off later. Though your path may change, your destination will remain clear.

Validating your experience

Once the applicant has provided examples of each competency, an individual who directly supervised or observed the work must sign off on the provided examples. These individuals are called “validators.” While validators can be supervisors, employers, colleagues, and/or clients, preference is given to selecting engineers who have taken legal responsibility for the work of the applicant.

The ultimate goal of admission processes is to ensure that only competent individuals are licensed. While CBA is the preferred method for many regulators to assess work experience, flexibility could also be allowed for some applicants, under some circumstances, to demonstrate competency through other means (such as an interview). Providing that flexibility is desirable as it demonstrates that the profession takes reasonable steps to accommodate applicants.

If you are working towards your license you are not only allowed, but encouraged, to achieve these competencies over a period of time. Consider using an initial self-assessment tool to gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses prior to starting the application process. Ontario, Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador regulators all provide self-assessment tools; even if these are not your regulators, their tools are free for use and can help you get a head start on determining your competency needs.