Engineers Nova Scotia working for a safe and sustainable province

Feb 22, 2024 12:00 PM

Every year in March, the Canadian engineering community celebrates National Engineering Month. In-person and virtual events are held across the provinces and territories with intent to showcase the diversity, ingenuity, and resourcefulness of engineers as they work to find innovative solutions to everyday problems.  

Here in Nova Scotia, engineers are licensed by Engineers Nova Scotia, and you might be surprised at how much you rely on them in your everyday life!  

Everywhere you look, you will see an engineer’s work.  Every road Nova Scotians travel, every building they enter, every service they receive, every convenience they enjoy, and every meal they consume, has been made possible through something designed or built leveraging the knowledge, expertise, skill, and energy of a licensed engineer. Whether it is health care, the food industry, supply chains, agriculture and fisheries, transportation, telecommunications, digital services, natural resources and energy, environmental protection and safety, or the so many other services that drive Nova Scotia’s growth, our almost 8,000 members contribute significantly to our province’s success and enhancing our quality of life. 


While many of us understand that engineers play a key role in designing our homes, our offices, and our roads, many of us may be surprised at how almost everything we touch or use has been conceived, designed, built, distributed, operated and maintained by engineers. Everything that helps you live, move and enjoy life has been made better and safer through the skill of a licensed engineer.  

And through self-regulation of the practice of engineering, Engineers Nova Scotia protects the public. 


What is Self-Regulation? 

The term “regulated profession” can be confusing.  

Professional regulation is a privilege granted by the Government of Nova Scotia to professions in the public interest. Professions do not have a “right” to regulate themselves. Rather, professional regulation is one way the Government may choose to protect the public and reduce risks associated with incompetent and unethical practice. If a profession behaves poorly, the Government can rescind the privilege of professional regulation. Sadly, this has happened on many occasions in Canada. 

Professional regulation comprises two key elements: the authority to register and license members; and the authority to investigate and discipline them. By granting regulation rights to a profession, the government grants the profession the powers it needs to develop, implement and enforce rules to protect the public and ensure that members of the profession provide services in a competent and ethical manner. 

The powers granted to Engineers Nova Scotia, and its obligations, are described in The Engineering Profession Act


How can you become a Professional Engineer? 

Given that engineers impact our lives so greatly, it is important that only those applicants who have a sufficient academic background and practical experience are granted a license. Those that meet the requirements are licensed as Professional Engineers and may practice independently; those who have the requisite academic background but do not have sufficient practical experience are registered as Engineers-in-Training and can contribute to the practice of engineering as long as they are supervised by a licensed engineer. The normal route to licensure is an accredited undergraduate engineering degree and four years of acceptable, and supervised engineering practice. For those who have completed undergraduate or master’s degrees from universities not accredited by Engineers Canada, successful completion of supplementary exams may be required to demonstrate a sufficient academic foundation. 

Who can legally provide engineering services in Nova Scotia? 

It is important to know that no one can represent themselves as an engineer unless they are registered with Engineers Nova Scotia. Similarly, only companies that employ licensed engineers can be registered with Engineers Nova Scotia as an engineering company authorized to provide engineering services. Individuals that illegally represent themselves as engineers or engineering companies without proper authority can be prosecuted under the Engineering Profession Act for inappropriate use of the title “engineer” and for illegal practice.  Engineers Nova Scotia maintains a register of licensed engineers, engineers-in-training and companies; you can search for registered individuals or companies by name on the Engineers Nova Scotia website at  


Why do Engineers need a license? 

Many people ask why engineers must be licensed at all. Professional licenses exist to ensure that only competent people are offering certain professional services. Like all professionals, including doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants, lawyers and others, engineers must continually demonstrate competence, and conduct their work in compliance with a Code of Ethics

Because engineers are licensed, the public can trust that they have the academic background to practice engineering safely, that they have passed the National Professional Practice Exam confirming their knowledge of the ethical components of practicing engineering, and that they have at least four years of engineering experience approved by a licensed engineer. 

As we have seen recently through our provincial judicial system, individuals holding themselves out as engineers and submitting work that can only be done by a licensed professional engineer in accordance with provincial regulations, can result in charges and convictions under the Engineering Professions Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.  

But what if an Engineer practices poorly? 

Engineers are human, and humans are not perfect. That is why Engineers Nova Scotia has a discipline function. 

Any person who has a concern about the work of a licensed engineer in the province may raise concern with Engineers Nova Scotia. Using the Code of Ethics as the framework to investigate unethical conduct or unskilled practice, our self-regulatory committees will conduct peer reviews of the allegations and if founded, a member of Engineers Nova Scotia can face a disciplinary hearing. If the engineer is found guilty of unethical conduct or unskilled practice, the Discipline Committee can impose a range of sanctions up to and including loss of license.  

Engineers Nova Scotia can only make decisions related to an engineer’s right to practice – that is whether remedial measures are required, whether the license should be restricted in some way, or whether the license should be removed altogether. The Engineering Profession Act does not grant Engineers Nova Scotia the authority to make decisions on matters that are the purview of the civil and criminal courts.  

Nova Scotia Court Ruling Reinforces Right to Practice Legislation


Working for a Safe and Prosperous Nova Scotia 

The population of Nova Scotia is now well over 1 million, and more growth is expected in the future. As Nova Scotia’s population grows, so will the need for infrastructure and services. Licensed engineers are key players in developing Nova Scotia while safeguarding the welfare of the public, protecting the environment, and contributing to health and safety within the workplace.  

Engineers Nova Scotia is proud of the work licensed engineers conduct, as they help to build and maintain a safe and prosperous Nova Scotia.