Software Engineering Applicants
In British Columbia, software engineering is a discipline of professional engineering and is regulated by Engineers and Geoscientists BC under the Engineers and Geoscientists Act, RSBC 1996 c. 116.
The information provided below covers:
Computer and software engineering have been designated as disciplines of professional engineering since 1988 and 1999, and fall within the definition of professional engineering in the Engineers and Geoscientists Act. Currently, there are over 700 professional engineer and engineer-in-training members who are working in software engineering in BC. They work across all industries, including aerospace, manufacturing, mining, transportation, telecommunication, finance, government, and education.
Differences between Canada and the U.S. or foreign jurisdictions can sometimes lead to confusion about registration obligations. In British Columbia, anyone who practises software engineering, or who uses the title “software engineer” (or a similar title that implies that they are a software engineer, like “firmware engineer”, “mobile app engineer”, etc.), must be registered with Engineers and Geoscientists BC.
Not all software development constitutes software engineering. Having the job title “software engineer” in another jurisdiction doesn’t necessarily mean that the work actually constitutes software engineering. In fact, many individuals who develop software probably do not actually engage in software engineering, and are not required to register with Engineers and Geoscientists BC, provided they do not represent themselves as a software engineer.
Organizations often mistakenly assign the title “software engineer” (or other titles that imply that an individual is a “software engineer") to British Columbian employees with roles more appropriately characterized as software developers, designers, programmers, or architects.
Software (or a software intensive system) is considered an engineering work if the following are true:
- The development of the software required “the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software”; and
- There is a reasonable expectation that failure or inappropriate functioning of the software or software intensive system would result in harm to life, health, property, economic interests, the public welfare or the environment.
To help determine whether you need to be registered with Engineers and Geoscientists BC, refer to the software engineering registration flowchart
If an individual practises software engineering or calls themselves a “software engineer” (or a similar title that implies that they are a software engineer) in British Columbia, and is not registered with Engineers and Geoscientists BC, they are contravening section 22 of the Engineers and Geoscientists Act.
Violations of section 22 are actionable in court by Engineers and Geoscientists BC. An individual, corporation, partnership or other legal entity that contravenes section 22 can be made to pay damages of up to $25,000 pursuant to section 27 of the Act. In addition, Engineers and Geoscientists BC is entitled under section 23 of the Act to seek an injunction to restrain the individual from continuing to breach the Act.
Engineers and Geoscientists BC takes enforcement action where warranted, and has previously dealt with unauthorized practice and misuse of title complaints relating to unregistered individuals who have practised software engineering or used titles implying that they were software engineers.
Information on unauthorized practice is available in the Unauthorized Practice and Use of Title section
of our website. If you are aware of anyone who is using the title “software engineer” or practising software engineering, and is not currently registered with Engineers and Geoscientists BC, please contact us.
To be eligible for registration as a software engineer in BC, you must (A) meet the general academic and experience competence requirements for registration as a professional engineer, and (B) meet the requirements specific to the software engineering discipline.
More detailed information on these requirements can be found on the Engineer First Time Applying in Canada page, but the following is an outline of the requirements:
- Fulfillment of general academic requirements through one of the following means:
- Equivalent of graduation from a 4-year full-time bachelor’s program in applied science, engineering, geoscience, science, or technology; or
- Academic exams based on assessment against the syllabus for professional engineer registration; or
- An interview to confirm exemption from academic exams based on acquired adequate knowledge and expertise.
- Minimum 4 years of satisfactory engineering work experience. At least one of these years must be gained in a Canadian environment.
- Completion of Law and Ethics requirement through Engineers and Geoscientists BC:
- The Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice in BC Online Seminar, and
- The Professional Practice (Practice, Law & Ethics) examination.
- Possession of English Language Competence for Practice
- Demonstration of good character and good repute based on your references and responses to a questionnaire aligned with Engineers Canada’s National Guideline on Good Character.
- Fulfillment of software engineering specific academic requirements through one of the following means:
- A degree from a software or computer engineering program accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board;
- A degree from a software or computer program from outside of Canada that is recognized as substantially equivalent; or
- A combination of equivalent education fulfilling the computer engineering or software engineering syllabus requirements.
- Completion of a Competency Assessment, demonstrating experience in line with the required competencies; and the generic or software competency indicators.
If you do not meet the specific criteria noted above, but are well-qualified in software or computer engineering with the required depth and breadth of academic background and experience competencies, you may be interviewed to assess whether you meet the requirements for registration.
To speak with someone about your eligibility or requirements for registration, contact [email protected]
or call 1.888.430.8035 ext. 4856.