the title of Engineer

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Sep 28, 2014.

  1. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    I have a company looking to hire me, and they asked me what title I want. I know that probably that sounds strange; usually you apply for a job that already has a defined title and you either do or don't meet the criteria for that job description. My situation is a little more unique than that; I'm currently self employed and I've been working for this company for the past 3 months developing a control system for their prototype machine. They are a small start-up company and do not employ any engineers here in the states. They have another location overseas that has a handful of engineers on staff, but the plan is to grow the U.S. location and build an engineering team here. I would be the first member of that team, and I am already filling the role of Engineer.

    I must carefully consider the title that I ask for. If I accept anything with "technician" in the title, I see my level of importance declining over time as degreed engineers are brought in. Right now I'm "the man" - I am THE engineering team, and I like the feeling.

    I do not have an engineering degree. As a self-employed individual I refer to myself as a "Control Systems Specialist" - I avoid bestowing myself the title of Engineer for liability purposes, and also because until recently I didn't feel deserving of the title. Until recently my involvement in engineering was limited to hobbyist engineering, technician/technologist-level ("assistance-level") contribution to large-ish level team engineering projects, or solely engineering insignificant minor systems or modifications to already engineered major systems.

    I've now involved myself to a very significant level in actual Engineering and systems design and emerged a shining success; I have succeeded where teams of licensed/degreed engineers have failed, and delivered a complete electro-mechanical system that greatly exceeds expectations. I have now justified to myself accepting the title of Engineer, in spite of not having the degree, and I think that my customer/prospective employer views me as an engineer (and a damn good one) as well.

    If I am to remain self employed I will continue to avoid using the title Engineer, as in order to be a contract engineer I would need a PE license which requies a degree (as I understand it). But I can find no evidence of any law/regulation that prohibits a company giving the title Engineer to their own in-house employees, degreed, or licensed, or neither.

    So in my mind's eye I don't consider it out-of-line to request the title of Engineer on my offer letter. But my mind only has one eye, and AAC has many. I would like to hear any available perspective, including devil's advocate stances & elitist opinions. Should I request the title or not? If not, then what? Any unforseen consequences of requesting it and my request being granted or not granted?
     
  2. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
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    You work in engineering. You could be called engineer, as that describes the type of work you do.

    Technician also describes the work.

    So combine the two unless your the lead engineering technician.

    Then again, you could be the grand poobar of the mechanical and electrical technician group. But, lets not get too carried away. :)
     
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  3. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    I consider myself an engineer by experience as well as academics, I have worked with a few engineers, some good, some bad (at engineering).
    I was in a plant developing and building a system and an Engineer asked me why or how come I was doing the job of an engineer, my stock answer to him was, I'm like the Bee who by aeronautical standards cannot fly, but the bee doesn't know that and flies anyway.
    I also keep in mind another saying by Alfred Einstein 'Imagination is worth far more than knowledge' (think about it).
    Max.
     
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  4. BR-549

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 22, 2013
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    You are the Senior Field Engineer for your company. Your expertise is solving engineering problems encountered in the field. At least until you get a degree. ANY degree will do now days.
     
  5. Kermit2

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 5, 2010
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    In the state of Texas there is a special case for anyone carrying the title of Engineer and who is salaried(not an hourly worker) in which a company can designate the job as essential to operation(not sure about the designation words).

    This allows them to work you over-time, or place you on 24-7 call status and NOT have to pay you any overtime.

    I have been down this road with a digital cinema company. Some weeks I would put in 100-120 hours and see absolutely no change in my paycheck. :(

    Be sure about your role before accepting such a title in this state. California has no such loop-hole and to avoid paying their customer service engineers overtime; this Cinema company used 18 service techs in Los Angeles vs just 2 of us here in Houston. The number of cinemas was pretty close and they didn't service as large an area. We covered San Antonio, Austin, Galveston, and Lufkin to name a few. The supervisor whom I complained to often about this was forced to work the Houston market after I quit. 3 years doing this and he threatened to quit them after just 6 weeks in this market. Seems they were seriously taking advantage of the loop-hole, and when put in the financial vise most companies will squeeze the employee harder and not consider any previous 'verbal' assurances. If they make any promises, get them in writing.

    Just my two cents of hard earned advice on the engineer title in this state.
     
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  6. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    If they are a startup and you are the technology person, whether product design, systems integration, field service or what ever, you should not limit yourself to 'engineer'. You should be rewarded for your skills and risk-taking. Risk because you are willing to forgo opportunities at larger more stable companies. Therefore. You should pick a title for now and the future. New players should report to you as you grow with this company. Depending on your salary and responsibilities, and titles of co-workers, you should ask for Technology Manager or Technology Director. Or, if better aligned with titles in sales or business management, "manager of technology" or "director of Technology".
     
  7. KL7AJ

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 4, 2008
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    How about "Technological Artist.
    :)
     
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  8. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    You have to be careful using the title 'Engineer' in most Canadian provinces, and most likely most states, as they require accreditation to use the title.
    Many companies do not really care if you can prove yourself and/or have track record for the skills that they require.
    Max.
     
  9. JoeJester

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    Apr 26, 2005
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    Most accredited professional engineers i know have PE after their
    name. In high school i worked at a 1 kW radio station and engineered many remotes and talk shows.

    Look up engineer in the dictionary.
     
  10. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    I've known more than one non-degreed engineer. They tend to be the better ones, having earned it the hard way.
     
  11. KL7AJ

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    That would be me. :) However, I have countless industrial certifications. :)
     
  12. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    Senior Design Manager?
    Senior Project Manager?

    I've had many happy days correcting the degreed engineers, but when the company changes, they get the job and I get the boot. It doesn't matter that they tell the transformer guy to wind a toroid that is physically impossible or submit a design that explodes when overloaded, they have the degree and I am a peon. So...don't compete with the title, "engineer". Make yourself the boss of the engineers. Make yourself the head of some department.
     
  13. KL7AJ

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    Which is why we all need to work for ourselves. If I'm designing an assembly line automation system, nobody gives a rat's patoot about my degree (or lack thereof). They want the thing working. :)
     
  14. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    All who mentioned securing a position at the top of the food chain and being the "boss" of all future engineering, that's great advice and anyone else would probably regret not taking it. But I think I would regret that decision. I've been a boss before and I didn't dig that at all. Not my thing. Managing people is a totally different skill set than designing things, and it's not a skill set that comes naturally to me. Not to say I'm incapable of managing; I did a fine job of it, but I hated every minute. I get along better with machines than I do with people, and any charm, likeability or authoritative presence that I may impress is an entriely learned & forced behavior.

    Ive said it before, if I grow my business, one of the first people I hire will be a manager, because I want no part if it. I can see myself as the owner of a company, who has a work bench instead of the corner office - I'll pay someone else to sit in that corner office and call all the shots while I hold a seldom used veto power and i do what I really love to do at a bench.

    I wouldn't mind being the senior guy who everybody comes to when they can't figure something out, but I've always been "that guy" among technicians. I doubt it would be the same in a team if engineers.
     
  15. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    How about:

    Head of Engineering
     
  16. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
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    strantor ...

    Google commissioned a study called "Project Oxygen" that asked that all important question concerning manager in engineering and if there really was a need for such a critter. It's statistics driven study validated the need for managers and further identified their traits.

    Here's the 8 traits of a good manager ...

    Believe it or not, I've used just about all of them in the military, over 20 years ago. I never articulated number 7, but it was present in my mind.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2014
  17. ericgibbs

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    Jan 29, 2010
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    Hi strantor,
    If you worked for me, based on your current engineering experience, limited academic qualifications and reluctance to be in a management position, your job title would be 'Project Engineer'.
    This would enable me to use you in a variety of roles within the company and give you the 'hands on' work you prefer, also if new engineers joined the company, being a project engineer, it would allow me to give you some degree of control over a small team.

    Eric
     
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  18. studiot

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 9, 2007
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    Good title.

    Though I would suggest Development Engineer as it sounds more permanent.

    Many years ago now, when we first started building the national gas grid, my brother took the title

    The Pipeline Engineer

    (He was boss of the project and deeply into mech eng)

    The use of that little word The is significant.

    So perhaps

    The Design and Development Engineer ?
     
  19. Alec_t

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    Sep 17, 2013
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    Perhaps introduce 'Consultant' into the title?
     
  20. GopherT

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    Nov 23, 2012
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    Out HR manager eliminated people with consultant and advisor in their titles. Because "they are not ultimately responsible for their work product. They just give advice." Don't shoot the messenger... Titles don't matter to me except for what my next employer would think about it.
     
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