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Senior Engineer

Senior Engineer

Senior Engineer

When can an engineer start calling himself "senior" engineer?

Not that I care much about titles, but since I discovered that in my workplace, becoming one is a promotion that comes with a few extra $$$, I'm asking myself that question.

Looking around me and on professional social media like LinkedIn, there doesn't seem to be a pattern. I see "kids" with less than 10 years experience with a "senior" title. I see others with lots more experience who're merely "engineers". I've always had an issue with this title as it would put me on the same level with seniors I work(ed) with, who I find much more experienced and skilled than I am, and that will always be the case until the day they retire.

Anyway, just wondering. It all seems so random.

I design aqueducts in a parallel universe.

RE: Senior Engineer

It seems random because it basically is. Just like any job title, it just depends on what someone's particular employer decides to call them and it's pretty arbitrary.

RE: Senior Engineer

After about 5 years experience, in my company. Then is went staff, senior staff, and principal engineer.

Good luck,

Engineers helping Engineers

RE: Senior Engineer


it would put me on the same level with seniors I work(ed) with, who I find much more experienced and skilled than I am,

One obvious test is whether someone who is your age when you started would think of you as a "senior." I think that 15 to 20 years experience would definitely qualify you for that: https://study.com/articles/difference_between_seni... Note that, as you mention, it's not necessarily about years of experience, but about the experience itself; some engineers with 10 years of experience might have solid experience that might qualify them for that exalted title winky smile

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Senior Engineer

When you get your AARP card.

RE: Senior Engineer

The definition is completely arbitrary, but I would say that senior engineers provide more answers than questions to other engineers.

RE: Senior Engineer

No set definition that I know of. I would think it is less of a "how many years" thing and more of a "how much do you know beyond college level" thing.

RE: Senior Engineer

It is whenever your employer says it is. And don't fool yourself into expecting any kind of consistency in that process.

RE: Senior Engineer

The real test is getting the Senior Coffee at McDonalds without the Manager giving you the "stink eye" look.

RE: Senior Engineer

In my former company, it was a religious process. You had to submit samples of your work, be accepted by the director of engineering for a review board, sit before a review board (a committee of existing senior engineers) and submit to an oral examination/interview. They voted and if you passed it, you were designated as such. It actually meant something in that company because only a designated Senior Engineer had the authority for final review of any documents submitted to a client. Good process. I went through it twice...first as a senior engineer and then as a chief engineer. Rigorous.

A Great Place For Engineers to Help Engineers

Follow me there.....

RE: Senior Engineer

I'd say it depends on the individual, and the company you are working for in my experience.

I think I got into the 'senior engineer' club after maybe ~4 years at a big local company. I've worked with other worker bees types that never really got there even after 10+ years at the same company. If you're sufficiently talented and driven it just sort of happens through natural progression of things, working your way up from the bottom taking on more responsibility and sometimes getting noticed by the right people is all it seemed to take. I've worked with other new hires that had the title but didn't measure up to the standard expected based on rising up through the ranks and doing things the way the company expected. They were less competent technically than some intermediate engineers that joined the company as new graduates and worked their way up despite having significantly more years of experience.

RE: Senior Engineer

I go by whatever is in the job description, and yes it varies A LOT. At small companies I've known many senior engineers, engineering managers, directors, and even a chief engineer who wouldn't have gotten much beyond junior engineer at a corporate firm.

RE: Senior Engineer

be patient as all good things come in due time. titles mean nothing unless one can demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities.

believe me, there are plenty of senior engineers whom cannot follow client policies, specs, stds, and always ask the client what to do in certain situations. makes one wonder why the "senior" engineer is hired to begin with.

RE: Senior Engineer

Here (at my company in the UK) the promotion to Senior Engineer is tied into attaining Chartered Engineering status with the ICE. This is generally 6 years after graduation. Subsequent promotion are then usually split to Project or Engineering focussed roles, with Lead Engineer and Principal Engineer respectively. Most would expect around 15 years experience (although of course it's the quality that counts not the quantity). Following that you are into Engineering Manager / Discipline Manager / Project Manager type roles.

RE: Senior Engineer

totally random and arbitrary. In my department we have titles that contradict the titles HR uses; trying to sort it out usually means you are given the job of trying to provide structure and make it fit all the existing situations where engineer A with 15 years experience doesn't have the title while engineer B with 6 years does. If you want an impossible task to do either start messing with job descriptions or manage an office layout change.

RE: Senior Engineer

When you go to the Hallmark store, and the teenage cashier asks you if you are eligible for the senior discount.

RE: Senior Engineer

When I look around the title senior is used without any set rules. The only real difference I see is the role of senior review for projects. If you are being asked to review final project reports and it is stated in the report you reviewed it, then I would expect that engineer has become a senior engineer.

RE: Senior Engineer

I'm sorry we can't give you a raise but we can change your title to "Senior".

RE: Senior Engineer

Seems I remember a Cheers episode where Woody Harrelson wanted a raise but Sam conned in him into thinking a Title was better than a raise.

RE: Senior Engineer

Unfortunately I resemble many of the comments above...

Back to the subject at hand, as many have indicated, it is arbitrary per company.
The best metric however is your productivity and client relationships.

I don't recall the exact numbers anymore, but I saw a chart many years ago that read something like:

Entry level engineer 130% of budget hours
Staff Level engineer 100% of budget hours
Senior engineer 80% of budget hours

RE: Senior Engineer


When can an engineer start calling himself "senior" engineer?

When your boss starts calling you that.


RE: Senior Engineer

When you can order off the cheaper menu at IHOP?

RE: Senior Engineer

Our local natural gas authority took changing engineer's titles very seriously. Junior engineers had 56 sq ft office (7x8), grey in/out baskets, and a single line phone. When you were promoted to regular engineer, maintenance would caom and mov your cube wall a foot (8x8 office), replace the in/out baskets with black ones, and change the phone to multi-line.

My current company has gotten rid of a lot of similar rules but in years past you needed a decoder ring to figure out who was who - an office with low walls versus high walls, High walls but no ceiling, a ceiling but no door, no ceiling but with a door, ceiling and door but with a window in the door...

RE: Senior Engineer


Quote (truckandbus)

an office with low walls versus high walls, High walls but no ceiling, a ceiling but no door, no ceiling but with a door, ceiling and door but with a window in the door...

Now I understand why management is pushing for open offices everywhere. lol

I design aqueducts in a parallel universe.

RE: Senior Engineer

I got moved into open plan office space just as I became eligible for a personal hatstand. Happy days!


RE: Senior Engineer

It's great being a "senior" because it means getting a closed office room with a door so I can use

"The door opened with a jerk"

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