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Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

Just had a conversation with my sister who’s a dentist. Surprisingly (not?) I learned that the Dental Boards are incredibly powerful and influential. They are heavily involved in politics and lobbying. It’s to protect their pay (one of the highest in all professions) and continue their prestigious professional status.

Which got me thinking about our Board. Simply put, we’re comically outdated. It’s not a realization that I have to dig deep for either.

-In an age of specialists we’re still lumped with all the other engineering disciplines, surveyors and architects. Heck, even within the Civil Engineering umbrella it’s already distinctive between structural, geotechnical, civil, environmental, etc...
-This is the board that still allows Architects to design 1-2 story residential buildings (there are limitations but still, shouldn’t be there to begin with). It waters down our technical skills. Such a dumb move because it sends off the sentiment that we’re not that specialized since someone else can do it. Even a portion of it. I get that Architects used to be the jack-of-all-trades but that was about 70 years ago. That’s how I know the board is full of archaic old timers with outdated thinking.
-There’s no protection for our pay. In the private sector you’re pretty much competing with each other. There’s always an engineer lowballing their service fees and ends up getting the job. In order to remain competitive other firms follow suit and the fees drop altogether.
-The values of the licenses are completely incoherent and inconsistent. To be competitive as a Civil Engineer or Structural Engineer you MUST have your licenses. The same can’t be said about MEs or EEs. It’s an optional bonus for them rather than baseline.

I don’t mean to come off unprofessional and ranty but it’s a sad reality we need to address for our profession. The board needs to break up. It needs an overhaul. There should be one residing over each discipline (I would go as far as saying there should be one for the structural engineers only). Not all lumped together because we “share fundamentals”. Doctors, pharmacists and dentists share massive chemistry and biology fundamentals too and they all have their own board.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

There already are SE boards in some states....but I do get what you are saying. What has amazed me more is organizations like ASCE that seem to be doing nothing with regards to some of these issues. (As I have stated on these boards in the past.)

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

Grass always looks greener on the other side; family doctors are getting undercut by lower-paid nurse practitioners who do not need 4 yrs of medical school nor 3 yrs of residency to start seeing patients and prescribing medicine.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

It does seem that when it comes to protection of our profession from internal cannibalization, Engineers are pretty bad when compared to most medical professionals. I think most of that has to do with control of the schools and who and how many individuals are admitted. However, with that being said, the sentiment towards medical professionals in our country seems to be reaching a boiling point and I wonder if changes are inevitable.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

It isn't all the fault of the engineering boards. There isn't a lot they can do to control the pay rate when its the engineers themselves that lowball the bids, or undervalue their experience. Controlling the sector and labor market is well beyond the capability of the boards. Example is that instead of selling high quality analysis that latest technology brings as a value added, it is used more often simply as a means of doing the job faster and reducing the rate even further. That method is a race to the bottom. The loopholes in the engineering laws also need to be a bit more restrictive too, but engineers do not typically have the appetite to get involved with the organisation and politics that it takes to do that.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all


Quote (LockeBT)

In an age of specialists

Could it be that's part of the problem? There's always been a general distrust of "specialists" in the US - lots of ink has been spent on the subject - and it seems it's only become worse recently. More and more people are dismissing people who build their careers on knowledge - who needs a college degree, anyway? Note that I'm not in this camp - I'm a 'knowledge worker' and 'professional expert' myself so I certainly understand our value to society, but we live in a society that seems (at least in part) to not want to see our value. Doctors enjoyed a special place between complex and 'unknowable' science and common public need. There are still lots of folks who prefer home remedies to more widely accepted medical cures and treatments - just look at the vaccine 'debate.' We lack the common public need - or at least that's the perception. Nearly everyone in a developed country will see a doctor once in their lives...most at least once per year. A couple of quick (and unconfirmed) google searchs: MD's/1000 people in the US was about 2.6 in 2017 and estimated 278 visits to a doctor's office per 100 people, and there were about 54,625 engineers in the US in 2020 who identified as "Civil/Structural". So that's about .0026 doctors/person and .000166 structural engineers/person in the US. But now consider how many people actually hire a structural engineer directly. If every engineer is capable of doing 120 projects per year, and 60% are from repeat clients, that's 48 'new' clients/year/engineer - so about 2,622,000 people experience working with a structural engineer for the first (and probably only) time each year. So lets reset the per capita for the engineers...54,625/2,622,000=0.02083...or about 10x the per capita rate for doctors. Factor in the repeat clients - contractors, architects, etc. - you can probably bring it down to closer 6 or 7 times. Again, these numbers are really rough and unsubstantiated (thanks, Google!), but I think it shows that our industry is actually a lot more saturated than medicine when you factor in the demand side. And where supply is more plentiful compared to demand...prices fall. (Thanks, Adam Smith!).

We also have really relaxed educational requirements. Scrape by with a C average at just about any school out there and, after you get your degree, boom! - you're an engineer. Lots of structural engineers practice in subordinate roles without their license - they still have 'structural engineer' in their job title. Until we increase the rigor of the degree requirements and mandate graduate degrees for licensure, we won't benefit from the bump in compensation that the inevitable attrition in obtaining the credential brings (again, Adam Smith discusses this at length...Wealth of Nations, Book 1, Chapter 10). Whether or not to mandate a master's degree is another matter of debate in the industry.

Let's also not forget about how these professions are getting paid. Doctors are getting paid by insurance companies. For the average American, a visit to the doctor is somewhere between free and $50, while the doctor is actually getting closer to $200. Never mind the monthly insurance payment. That's just money people never see. To link the two is an abstraction most people either can't or don't want to understand. A few years ago I tallied it up...for my healthy family of 4 with only "wellness" visits to the doctor...we were paying roughly $1200 per visit to the doctor. And that's with my employer picking up almost 90% of my insurance premium (family premiums were out of pocket). But most people don't figure that out (and our $200,000 bill when my son was born only cost $8,000...so there's that!). A good comparison is design structural engineering vs. forensic structural engineer. Lots of folks bring it up on these boards...forensics pays more. And it's true. How often is there a structural failure that doesn't involve an insurance company? Once the insurance company's pockets open up, the engineer can get a lot more. When the owner/end user is paying for services out of pocket, there's a lot more downward pressure on our fees. Same happens with doctors/hospitals. For most people, big medical bills are paid off on interest free payment plans. Would you design a house for $10,000 and then accept $50/month for the next 16+ years to pay for it? Because a lot of medical institutions will do it for a surgery/hospital stay.

I think we disagree in the house category - if it fits the IRC, then you don't need a structural engineer. There's lots of things that can be built without our input quite safely. Just like there are several things in medicine that can be handled without an MD or DMD.

I get what you're saying, and in principle I agree with the sentiment...but I can't stand all these comparisons to doctors, lawyers, and real estate agents. Do we get paid as much? No? Do we take on more liability? Depends. Do we take on a much lower risk:reward ratio? You bet. But rather than bemoan the fact that we don't have it as good as them, let's discuss the issues within our industry as they pertain to our industry...not how they're different from fundamentally different industries.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all


I guess my gripe is about representation (or lack thereof). You explained real well why that is for us. The rule of supply/demand does govern all at the end of the day. And based on other responses we have issues in other areas also (such as education and lower requirements) which makes my statement of putting the bulk of the blame on our board shortsighted.

What would you change and problems would you address, specifically for structural engineers, if you were in charge and have some of the power?

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

Also by “specialists” I meant something along the line of an orthodontist to a dentist or a opthomologist to an optometrist. Similar to a structural engineer to a civil engineer.

I’m not quite sure where the distrust comes from but “specialist“ refers to one with a higher more indepth skill-set in a specific field who goes beyond the average requirements for that field. I get referred by my MD left and right to these other guys/gals and the sentiment is that those guys just know more than my MD about a specific area. They’re like MD+ lol

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

For the USA steel industry, I can live with domestic competition but I'll support nearly any reform that would reduce the rate of offshoring being brought on by technology. I'm pretty sure my position (licensed connection engineer for a steel fabricator) could be almost entirely eliminated, in the USA, if requirements for licensure were relaxed. Heck, we already do almost all the detailing overseas, and the popular corporate speak concerning "optimizing the design" and "need for speed" project management is certainly coercing the industry in an undesirable direction.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

LockeBT - maybe it's worse here. I live right between the first (failed) attempt at English settlement in America and the first successful one. So the "I can do this myself - who needs your learning" mentality runs deep. But it is one of those things that has pervaded the American psyche...for better and for worse. Specialist, expert...many find that too narrow and prefer the jack-of-all trades approach because that's a more independent way to live. I enjoy it myself - working on my own car, doing my own home improvement projects, etc...but I also know the value of an expert when one is called for...many do not.

I see what you're saying, though...you're looking at just within our profession. I think it's a false comparison, though. For a neurosurgeon, they went to undergrad (presumably a biology degree), med school to get their MD, and then at least one, probably two residencies before finally becoming a fully accredited surgeon. If you start college at 18, you might get there by the time you're between 30 and 34...assuming you can hack it (pun intended). So that person is a specialized medical doctor, really just starting their career (with an eye-popping mountain of debt in most cases) when a lot of engineers are coming into "senior engineer" positions at their firms and paying off their 10 year federal student loans. For us...get your bachelor's degree and your specialization is a combination of a few electives and the place you choose to get your first job. That's about it. And if you want to change? Might take a pay cut and some convincing of the new employer, but it's doable - a lot easier than restarting the residency process for a doc. So I think rather than a true specialization, we're just practicing quasi-independent branches of related engineering on little more than OJT.

What would I change? I'm a proponent of a required Master's Degree. Earn your Civil Engineering degree, then if you want to continue on to be a PE, get your master's degree in your specialty of choice followed by a 4 year EIT/EI period. If we really want to bring up the quality of the profession, we could go as far as requiring an "approved" EIT period...just as residency programs are required to be certified. That way we can know that engineers in training are actually being trained and not just marooned in a cubicle with little guidance, too much work, and canned recommendation letters at exam time. That's a pipe dream, though, and there's insufficient impetus to force the massive investment that would be required.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

Working in a heavily regulated profession can be its own kind of hell.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, consulting work welcomed

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all


120 projects per year? You must work a whole lot faster than I do. smile

I have had years where I worked 60+ hours per week all year on less than half a dozen projects. I once worked four months straight at 90 hours and seven days per week on a single project, and there were ten of us on that meat-grinder (six engineers and four CAD drafters). This was the site civil and site electrical design for a 5000-bed state prison and the agency was making major changes to the design up to the final deadline, but the deadline couldn't be moved because it had been set by the state legislature. In fact, on the day we were plotting, stamping, and signing 200+ sheets for our final drawing submittal, I got a call from the agency's program manager (a consultant himself) telling me that, at the request of the agency, the architect (a parallel consultant to us) and his mechanical engineer were moving and resizing the equipment pads for all 120 buildings. He asked if we could incorporate the changes for this submittal. I told him no, but that we could do it with an addendum during bidding.

Seriously, though, my smallest project ever took just 3 hours of my time and I have had many proejcts that took less than a man-week. But, 120 projects per year? Not me. smile

"Is it the only lesson of history that mankind is unteachable?"
--Winston S. Churchill

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

fel3: It depends on the kind of work you do. In my line of work (concrete restoration) my jobs tend to be fairly typical and in all but a handful of cases it takes me more time to drive to site / draft drawings than it does to design things. That's because I've done repairs so many times I can pretty much know what I'm going to do just by hearing a description of the thing. If this was all I did, a project / day or two per day would not be unreasonable. This obviously leads to my boredom, but that's another story (and why I wear a lot of hats).

However, if one is engaged in multi-story or megastructures even a project per year might be a lot!!

phamENG: I'm convinced additional schooling is not the answer to people having no clue as to what they are doing. The problem isn't a lack of knowledge in and of itself so much as it is lack of knowledge combined with A) overconfidence, and B) a lack of feedback due to safety factors pulling their weight in unintended ways. If a designer knows what they are doing, the building stands up. If a designer is a total muddlehead, the building is still likely to stand up. There are very few mechanisms by which poor designers are punished. It seems to me that the intention is for experienced engineers to guide the young, but this remains largely just a pipe dream in practice given financial constraints / time pressures driving a busy schedule with little time for review / mentorship. And of course this leads to a cycle where slightly less knowledgeable people turn into senior designers, who in turn "mentor" the next crop who are even less knowledgeable, and so on and so forth. Schooling wont solve this issue.

EDIT - These issues plague all of us despite our mutual goal (I assume) of trying to actually know(ish) what is going on. Overconfidence is a humanistic trait. And the question remains how do WE get feedback on what we are doing is correct? This is not an easy problem to solve at all.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

fel3 - 120 is a lot...but doable if you do lots of small jobs. I can keep the lights on doing forensic investigations of houses...45 minutes of driving, an hour or two at the house looking it over and taking measurements, and an hour or two running a few numbers and writing a report. If I do 3/week I'm pushing 150 for the year and covering my overhead and a chunk of my salary. Designs...not so much. More like a couple/month, but those are generally with architects, contractors, and other repeat clients. But your point helps mine...if we're doing even less and interacting with fewer new clients, then we're even more 'over saturated'.

Enable - I understand you're point, and I think I agree with it at its core...but I take it another direction. Rather than simply saying more schooling isn't required, I think an overhaul to the schooling is required before we can push more of it. As you mentioned we've gotten ourselves into a cycle of declining level of knowledge in design offices. How do we correct that? The two ways I can think of are to a) enforce a more strict and rigorous continuing education program or b) reprogram at the University level to boost the knowledge going in from the bottom by requiring internships and more practical applications of the engineering prior to graduation. The former has the advantage of building on the senior engineers' experience, but the disadvantage of operational inertia. The senior engineers will be less likely to accept a new or different way of looking at something, and if it proves they've actually been wrong about something...how many of us have the backbone to admit we're wrong? And what do you do with that knowledge? The latter has the advantage of beginning to shape young engineers and prime them for their careers, but without much experience it's hard to ground it in something tangible. I will say that there are several topics related to structural engineering that are important for a successful career that simply aren't taught until you get to a Master's level...at least not here. Steel connection design, advanced structural analysis, dynamics/vibrations, even seismic theory and specific applications of hydrodynamics to wind are all addressed in detail during an MS. Are these things that can be learned on the job? Yes, but there's something to be said for learning the theory early and then going out and learning to apply it. Those financial constraints we brought up...they make it very difficult to both learn the theory and apply it on the job...you typically have to choose one or the other (and if you choose to learn it you probably won't have a job for long). I think having those gaps coming out of school combined with poor mentorship/leadership is what's feeding that cycle.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

What I have noticed with most engineers in my area is that they lack knowledge of basic statics. To me, this is fundamental in everything we do. You can get a "C" in statics, move on to easier classes, graduate and still probably know nothing about statics.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

XR - agreed. This is a place we could learn from the medical profession. My wife went to med school for her master's (not an MD), but she took courses with MD students in some cases where they overlapped. She was required to get a higher grade than the MD candidates to pass. The MDs going into family practice, dermatology, etc. only needed a C, she needed a B, and the MDs looking to become surgeons had to get an A for any hope of being accepted to a residency. So if you're going to be a traffic engineer...statics maybe isn't so important. A C will do fine. Civil Engineering Technologists who want to go into structural work? A B would probably be acceptable. But if you're going to become a full fledged structural engineer, then you'd better have an A in statics.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

I find that a lot of engineers see the negatives in their peers rather than positives. I say see the positives, look for the good. Change your mindset, the profession is going good and is great. Looking at salaries of my peers in my local area generally we are fairly paid.

The only gripe I would put forward for boards is to be more proactive rather than reactive. It would be good if they provide knowledge based cpd, or encourage more open sharing of engineering knowledge.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

Actually I got a "C" in statics back in the day. (Considering it was a ME professor that was [the icing on the cake] just about impossible to understand.....I consider myself lucky to have gotten that.) But I went on to get As & Bs in more advanced structural analysis classes.....including some at the graduate level....this is not to mention the fact I am a SE in numerous states.

So a "C" in any single undergrad class isn't anywhere near the top in the list of concerns in this profession (IMHO).

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

I see many parallels between medicine and engineering.

Your standard medical general practitioner (family doctor) isnt swimming in cash. They deal with the routine and send patients onward when a specialist is needed.

The average strcutural engineer designing the same slab over an over again isnt making the big bucks. If something crosses their desk that they arent comfortable with, they usually know the right specialist to refer their client to. And the specialist engineers who get into the specialist work usually make good dough.

The difference is, the medical practitioner values entering specialty work. whereas for the structural engineer, any mention that they should leave the world of routine structural engineering is met with contempt. Why would they invest all this time to become an engineer if they arent going to do "real engineering"?

The engineer debates going back to school for a masters degree in advanced concrete or steel formulation, which may enhance his knowledge of that same old slab he's been designing for years, but wont change the outcome of his designs.

He stays put at his desk, copying and pasting standard details from job to job, forwarding calls for interesting engineering work onto the specialists, the guys who dont do real engineering work, but handle that "oddball stuff that needs an engineer"

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

WARose - good point. My statistics grade (and now my knowledge of statistics) suffered greatly from the the fact that my professor's accent was thick enough to cut with a knife. Brilliant man and okay one on one, but in a lecture hall? You can forget it.

If I may, though, I think you're missing the 'forest' of my comment for the 'trees'. You struggled through statics not because of difficulty with the subject, but because you couldn't understand the prof. You rectified it later and figured it out. There are plenty of students who scrape by with a C because they just don't get it...and then still go on to careers where using it is an imperative. How many people come on these boards, claiming to be a junior structural engineer, and their questions are pure statics? So perhaps the grade itself isn't the perfect metric, but there should be something to better evaluate a candidate's aptitude for a particular field of engineering.

NorthCivil - I agree with most of that, but I think you have the roles swapped. The guy spec'ing the same slab every day and picking his down out of a table is not the one doing 'real' engineering...it's the guy doing the advanced odd ball stuff that's really doing the engineering. (I might be prejudiced - when I worked in an office I was the odd ball guy who got most of the tough engineering problems and that's still where I'm happiest working.)

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

The state boards are set up to regulate the profession, not to protect the profession or advocate for the profession. If the engineering that gets done, gets done properly, then the boards are doing their work. If we all go broke in the process, that's not their concern.
Personally, I don't have a lot of problem with the way things are set up, or with the testing or qualification that goes on. While I can think of various major and minor tweaks, pretty much any change is going to benefit one person and hurt another.
On the comments on people hiring their own engineers- I think the result is about as would be expected. Most people aren't in a position to ever need that service. It's like comparing the need for a doctor to the need for, say, a podiatrist. It doesn't mean the profession is more or less worthwhile or valued, just that most people don't have the specific problem that would require consultation with that specialist.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all


How many people come on these boards, claiming to be a junior structural engineer, and their questions are pure statics? So perhaps the grade itself isn't the perfect metric, but there should be something to better evaluate a candidate's aptitude for a particular field of engineering.

Good point....but I'm not sure what the metric would be.

In actuality, I've known several who graduated with fantastic grades but just didn't make it as engineers because they just couldn't put it all together. They turned everything into a research project.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all


I work in CA btw. I wonder who regulates the board requirements. The DCA?

I understand the boards are set up to regulate the profession. I believe part of regulation entails standardizing engineering fees (at least minimum fees). However one of the comments above mentioned that it's beyond their functions. Which is unfortunate if you ask me. Because it creates a sphere of cannibalism and dissolves intra-professional support. What I mean is that in the private sector, unless you are a CEO or one of the principals within a firm, having an SE is a disadvantage. As in, heck, why pay for an SE when a PE can be trained to do the same thing with lower pay? That's not economical. The principal engineers will use their SE stamps anyway, they don't need another SE unless there is something extremely specialized.

Until this day, I still wonder why I had to take the Surveying Exam for my PE. As in...why? The Seismic Exam makes sense because that's truly state-specific since CA is a high seismic region. But Surveying? Who added this? What are the justifications for this? Is it just to make money? I failed the exam my Surveying Exam first time and I have no idea how I passed my 2nd time. Sometimes I wonder if I even deserve my PE lol. Point is the CA Board is outdated with that requirement. I understand students are to be exposed and trained in CE related disciplines (including Surveying). But that is purely for the sake of academics. The PE Exam is a PROFESSIONAL exam. It should hold the standards of...well, professionals. As in, it should be applicable and relevant to the work. I have honestly not used a single thing I have learned in Surveying ever since. Studying for it was a waste of time/resource for me. I was going through the uninterested motion of learning something knowing I will never ever use it. If I take it today I will fail miserably.

Also, whose idea is it to require me to pay for my PE and my SE license renewal? I mean it isn't much but it's so backwards. The SE license is a higher tier version of the PE correct? Why treat them as 2 separate licenses?

Perhaps this comes off as incoherent rant and my gripe is misguided and misplaced. It might not be the board after all. I have only worked for 10 years and (please tell me I'm wrong) I can sense the decline in our profession. I think we do such a good job that it self-penalizes. Buildings aren't collapsing. Structures perform overall pretty well barring extreme events. Majority of our work is over-designed (for good reasons) and better performing than ever. All those factors in unison lower the demand for our work (and pay). It's the reality I find hard to swallow.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

LockeBT - to your point about the board fixing prices...I certainly don't agree with that - particularly in a state as large as California. What baseline would you tie it to? You'd either end up charging market rate for downtown San Francisco and nobody in Salinas would ever be able to hire an engineer, or the other way around and leave pilesmountains of cash on the table when you do work in San Francisco. Fixing prices will either hurt the consumers (and, indirectly, the profession) or hurt the profession directly.

One 'solution' that I've heard of...I think it was Alabama that was considering it a few years back?...not allowing fixed fee proposals. You'd be required to charge by the hour. It's an imperfect system, since I'm sure you could agree over lunch to not do more than X hours, but it's something. I don't completely support it, since hourly projects limit my margins and properly negotiated lump sum projects are significantly more lucrative, but I can see an advantage if you have trouble with your budgets. By doing it time and material/ cost plus you may not feel as much pressure to send a project out half cocked as you would if you burn through a tight fee and only have half the engineering done.

WARose - also true. I wonder if there's be a way to establish some sort of 'certified' internship. It could ensure (or at least increase the chances of) meaningful exposure and experience in the practice of engineer and weed out the high academic performers that can't function in practice from the good junior engineers. If ABET put it together and made it a degree requirement under their accreditation system, then it could have an impact. But it also feels like it would need to be part of an accredited master's program - once the student has a 4 year degree and has chosen their specialty, they do 6 months to a year of one of these internships in that specialty and it satisfies a requirement for their master's program. Internships prior to graduation are beneficial, sure, but I know for me the only structural classes before senior year were statics and structural analysis 1 - everything else was a 400 level requirement or elective, so I would have been utterly useless to a structural firm. When I took my FE exam, I had no idea what the wide-flange available moment curves were - I'd never seen them before.

RE: Opinion: the Board of Engineering is outdated and it hurts us all

I didnt read through all of your posts, but I read the first. I generally agree. I want to say two things: 1.) I don't think we need to require post graduate education for SE's. Even without it, we still put in an equivalent amount of time, including apprenticeship or qualifying experience, and testing as a general practitioner... and as you become competent as an SE, you realize it takes ten years of experience before you are capable of going solo. Although a post graduate education starts you out ahead, I dont think you necessarily end up there after that ten years. 2.) I am convinced, the pay difference has everything to do with working for private owners. As you noted, insurance companies pay more... but so do government agencies. Even my CE buddies get paid better.... because they contract with the government. I know SE's who design bridges..... who also get paid much better. Not only do they work primarily for government agencies... but they also DONT WORK FOR ARCHITECTS.

Bottom line is, this is a great profession but a terrible business....

BTW- 120 jobs? Really? I do like 25, although I could do maybe twice that... if my newly launched practice would take off....

To comment on the original post- I dont think its the boards job to standardize pay. Even the AIA no longer does that. What I try to remember, is my clients dont know anything about what I do. So, I explain it. And I explain what the next guy might and might not do, for the lower fee. And I dont want to work for the client that just wants a rubber stamp... Ive put too much time into my profession, to pimp it out.

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