Professional engineers create products and systems with the intention of enhancing the quality of life, safety or health of fellow citizens. They are often the leaders of technological development, and thus must be thoroughly trained before achieving professional status. In Canada, only licensed engineers can practice professionally. Those who seek to obtain a license must meet four main criteria. They must first hold a relevant degree from a Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board-accredited program or hold equivalent forms of qualification. They should meet the required work experience for the territory in which they seek a license. Applicants must also demonstrate good character. Lastly, to show their grasp of the skills, responsibilities and laws related to the field, applicants are required to pass the Professional Practice Exam.
The Professional Practice Exam is given to all individuals within Canada that wish to participate as professionals within the engineering field. These individuals must pass the examination before becoming licensed to practice, and to obtain a license, applicants must demonstrate that they are qualified to do so. Passing the professional exam will confirm that the applicant has shown sufficient knowledge of the skills, ethics and obligations that come with maintaining professional status. In addition, a passing score proves the applicant comprehends the legal aspects regarding the engineering practices of the jurisdiction from which they plan to operate. Those who wish to apply for the Professional Practice Examination may usually do so after completing at least two years of geoscience or engineering work experience. At the time of writing the exam, the applicant is usually registered as a member-in-training, engineer-in-training or junior engineer of a constituent association. Constituent associations will usually waive repeated testing for members of other constituent associations that have previously completed the exam and are seeking membership transfer or temporary license.
The exam is given four times each year in January, April, July and October. It can be taken in major centers throughout the country and other parts of North America, if necessary, through special arrangements. The testing time lasts from two to three hours to give each applicant adequate time to complete it. The test is comprised of 100 multiple-choice questions, but may include true/false or essay questions based on the jurisdiction providing the exam. Subject matter includes, but is not limited to:
After the exam, scores will be processed within a period of five to six weeks during which time marks will be given as a passing or failing score. The final assessment will be mailed to the applicant and will not be provided via email, fax or phone call.
The biggest concern for most applicants is developing a successful method for preparing for the exam. The most effective method to prepare involves determining which areas will be covered, mastering each one and taking practice tests to get a feel for the actual exam. The provided syllabus contains the basis for which applicants should center most of the preparation around. He or she should study each topic provided in the syllabus before moving on to additional study material. To begin, applicants may order study materials for a Professional Practice Exam through APEGA. There are also free resources for studying for the exam along with sample tests and ebooks. In addition, in some territories seminars, workshops or training sessions are provided the week preceding the exam.
Mike Grossman, P. Eng.