The How and Why of Protecting Professional Titles


One of the responsibilities of APEGGA's Compliance Department is to try to ensure non-licensed and non-qualified persons, including corporations, do not hold themselves out as licensed and qualified to practice engineering, geology or geophysics in Alberta.

Part (1) Scope of Practice of the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions (EGGP) Act, Sections 3(1), 6(1) and 8(1), relate to the exclusive use of titles and provide the necessary legislation for the Compliance Department to do its work. The message in these sections clearly states that registration with APEGGA is required for the following:

  • Individuals who use the designations “P.Eng.”, “P.Geol.” and/or “P.Geoph.” on business cards, correspondence etc.

  • Individuals whose job title includes the word “engineer,” “geologist” or “geophysicist,” such as Software Engineer, Junior Geologist, Senior Geophysicist.

  • Companies that include the word “engineering,” “geology,” “geophysics” or any variation of these words in their corporate name.

Why is the Use of Protected Titles Of Such Concern?

Titles are protected to give members of the general public confidence that when they retain an individual or company using these titles, they are receiving advice from fully qualified, experienced and licensed professionals. Professional associations, such as APEGGA, are charged with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of their respective acts.

How Does the Compliance Department Determine Whether a Title Violation Exists?

First, it must be determined whether the individual title or corporate name violates the reserved title provisions contained in Sections 3, 6 and 8 of the EGGP Act.

Titles are reserved for members of APEGGA whenever the title plus the context of the title usage would lead the public to believe or to legitimately assume that the title user is licensed to practice. Examples of this include Plant Engineer, Chief Geologist, Staff Geophysicist, John Smith Engineering, John Smith Geological Consultants, or John Smith Geophysical Consultants.

Titles such as Manager — Engineering; Co-ordinator — Drilling Engineering; Supervisor — Arctic Engineering; Vice-President — Geology; District Manager — Geophysics and the like, in an engineering, geological or geophysical work-related context, should normally be used only by members of APEGGA.

An offender has two options to avoid legal proceedings:

  • Seek registration with APEGGA, or

  • Change the title or corporate name violating the EGGP Act.

Enforcement Examples

The Compliance Department is both reactive and proactive in carrying out its enforcement of title misuse. The following are examples of typical reactive and proactive situations where titles were being misused, along with how the Compliance Department handled them:

  • An APEGGA member reported a non-registered individual's use of the title Senior Project Engineer. We contacted the individual and confirmed that this use of the title was a one-time occurrence. We received assurances it would not be repeated.

  • An advertisement was placed in the newspaper by a company looking for a “Systems Engineer.” But the company did not hold a permit to practice. Compliance contacted the company and determined that the position does not require the services of a professional engineer, and that the company is not practicing engineering. The company will no longer use engineer in job titles or advertising.

  • An individual using the title “Wellsite Geologist” on his employer's website was noted by compliance staff. We confirmed that the individual was not registered as a professional geologist. The matter was resolved when the title was removed from the website and the individual confirmed that he was working as a technologist.

  • Over the past year, it has been encouraging to note that APEGGA members appear to have become more aware of and are reporting all title violations, including those using the P.Eng. designation. We are finding that the majority of the P.Eng. situations involve individuals who were previous members of APEGGA but were struck for either not paying their dues or not complying with the Continuing Professional Development program.

In these situations, immediate contact is made advising there will be legal action under the EGGP Act unless satisfactory evidence of compliance is received. To date in 2004, the threat of legal action has been all it took to resolve these matters.

Compliance Information Report

The following statistics track Compliance Department activity in 2004.

Active files as of January 1, 2004



Files opened during period



Files Resolved for Individuals






   Ceased using restricted title



   Personal registration



   Verified not practicing



   Files Resolved for Companies






   Permits issued or reinstated



   Ceased using restricted title/violating



   Verified not practicing



Active Files at May 31, 2004



*Note: Compliance files not mentioned above were resolved for various other reasons such as confirmation that an individual or company is already registered with APEGGA, verification that an individual contacted is not living or working in Alberta, and clarification that a company is actually a trade name of a member.


The Compliance Department often deals with queries regarding the use of the Member in Training (M.I.T.) designations with qualifiers such as “John Doe, E.I.T./Geol.I.T./Geoph/I.T.” and titles such as “Project Engineer/ Geologist/Geophysicist.”

Q: Are the titles engineer, geologist or geophysicist permissible under the EGGP Act without professional registration?

A: In June 2004, to bring policy in line with practice, APEGGA's Council decided that APEGGA members in training will now be able to hold job titles that include the above words. However, they must make it clear on business cards and other listings that they are still in training and therefore not yet professional members.

Sample job titles that would not be considered violations of the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act are as follows:

  • John Jones, E.I.T., Project Engineer

  • Jane Smith, Geol.I.T., Field Geologist

  • Jim Johnson, Geoph.I.T., Junior Geophysicist

However, members in training are not entitled to use the designations P.Eng., P.Geol., or P.Geoph. until they have completed four years of experience and passed their professional practice exams.

Author Credits

Director of Compliance