Licensure & Registration

Use of the Title “Engineer”

By Michael Behnke, P.E.

Recent actions taken by the Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying against Mats Järlström, a Swedish-educated electrical engineer currently residing in Oregon, and Järlström’s subsequent filing of a civil rights lawsuit accusing the board of violating his First Amendment rights, have received significant media coverage targeted at not only the engineering community but to the general public, as well.

While IEEE-USA has taken no position with regard to either the licensing board’s assessment of a civil penalty on Järlström or on Järlström’s civil rights lawsuit, IEEE-USA does have a position statement on the use of the title “Engineer” that was developed by the IEEE-USA Licensure & Registration Committee and adopted by the IEEE-USA Board of Directors in November 2016. In summary, IEEE-USA’s position recognizes that the general public interprets the term “Engineer” in a broader sense than the terms “Professional Engineer,” “Licensed Engineer” or “Registered Engineer,” which are protected titles under individual jurisdictions’ licensing statutes. It is IEEE-USA’s position that individuals holding an engineering degree from an ABET/EAC accredited program of engineering education should not be prohibited from using the title “Engineer.”

IEEE-USA’s Licensure & Registration Committee promotes and supports career credentialing for IEEE members, including, but not limited to continuing education, voluntary certification programs and becoming licensed in the jurisdictions in which they practice. These credentials aid IEEE members in advancing their professional qualifications and maintaining lifelong career vitality.


Michael Behnke, P.E., is a member of the IEEE-USA Licensure & Registration Committee, and serves on both the NCEES Electrical & Computer PE Exam and FE Exam Committees.

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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