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What Is a Professional Engineer?

The main purpose of professional engineering licensure is to protect the public health, safety and property.

In reading Radio World over the years, I have noticed that people often use or are attributed the title “consulting engineer,” “consulting broadcast engineer” or some variation.

I feel it necessary to share with you that in many states, including Utah, the practice of engineering is reserved only for licensed professional engineers (P.E.). The main purpose of professional engineering licensure is to protect the public health, safety and property.

There are many misconceptions about what constitutes the practice of professional engineering, complicated by variations in state law. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying has developed a Model Law to encourage standardization.

So the question is, are broadcast engineers who offer consulting services violating state professional engineering statutes? The answer in many cases is yes. There have been broadcast engineers who have been prosecuted for practicing professional engineering without a license. In one case, the Society of Broadcast Engineers came to the aid of an engineer in Illinois who was charged with unlicensed practice, with no success.

Some engineers feel they can circumvent state law by calling themselves “broadcast technical consultants.”

Personally, I feel that many “freelance” activities of broadcast engineers are not considered “professional engineering,” but some are. What I believe is not reliable; a state licensing authority, or better yet, an attorney, should be consulted.

To be fair to the readers of Radio World, individuals should not be listed as “consulting engineers” unless they are properly licensed.

Also, having a qualified attorney writing an article on the subject would be interesting. I think many engineers would like to know when a license is required.

Finally, any individual mentioned in Radio World who has earned the title “P.E.” should always have it included as part of their name. They have worked very hard to get it!

Mario Hieb, P.E.
Consulting Engineer
Salt Lake City

The writer is an occasional contributor to Radio World.