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If you graduated as an Information Technology or a Computer Science student and you have a job that involves computer programming such as developing websites and systems, can you be called Software Engineer?

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migrated from Sep 7 '11 at 7:52

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marked as duplicate by MichaelT, Glenn Nelson, gnat, Kilian Foth, ChrisF Feb 16 '13 at 11:31

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AFAIK, 'engineer' is a protected term in most countries. You need to have an official degree that says 'engineer' in order to use it as your title. – tdammers Sep 7 '11 at 7:58
I have a Computer Engineering Degree AND a Computer Science Degree and my position is an Electronics Engineer. The title and/or position doesn't mean a thing. I am more or less a Software Engineer, I write code, every single day. – Ramhound Sep 7 '11 at 12:26
You say that, but architects (bricks 'n' mortar) got a bit arsey a few years ago when developers who design systems started calling themselves architects. It was again a protected title. Engineer has similar protection, but engineering has always encompassed electrical and computer engingeering since their inception. – Ian Sep 8 '11 at 10:59
I have a Engineering degree in Computer Science, but people call me unemployed. That's rude :-( , isn't it. Actually what you do justifies the title. No degree in the world can make you an engineer or an architect, if you do nothing :-) – Pankaj Upadhyay Sep 15 '11 at 12:46
@tdammers - not even! Where I live (in Ontario), I need to be licenced to call myself an Engineer, even with batchelor's and master's degrees in engineering. If I call myself an engineer without having a licence, the licensing organization will come after me. – James McLeod Feb 15 '13 at 23:46
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Depends on the context and country. For example, the university that I graduated had two academic paths for computer oriented students: college of information technology (3 years, which is no longer available now) and faculty of computer science (4 years). If you graduated the 3 year form you were called a "technician" and if you graduated the 4 year form you were called an "engineer". The technician was supposed to have advanced knowledge of how computers, networks, software etc. work and how to use them, while the engineer was expected to know how to design and implement them. So from an academic point of view you could be called a software engineer if you had a 4 year degree.

From an employer's point of view you could be called a "software engineer" if your job is to design and implement software, even if you don't have an university degree. Some of the brightest minds in software industry don't hold an university degree and they are software engineers.

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+1 "some of the brightest...don't hold a degree". Some of the best software Engineers I have worked with have degrees in Maths, Chemistry, English and Music. For some reason, probably the structure that is present in good music, musicians make very good software Engineers. – ʎəʞo uɐɪ Sep 8 '11 at 7:10
@Ian FWIW. most of my college's computer department was staffed by people with various music degrees. Didn't meet many w/ CS degrees. – Adrian J. Moreno Sep 8 '11 at 18:37

Titles and their meanings differ from country to country.

In the Uk (where I work) Engineer not a protected title and people regularly use it without meaning they have a level of qualification. I personally prefer software developer, its not ambiguious and sounds less as if your trying to impress people.

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The flipside to this is that here in the UK, 'engineer' is not such a revered title. Any garbage man can refer to themselves as a "refuse collection engineer". – MattDavey Dec 29 '11 at 15:43

I've yet to get a college degree, but I've got 12 years of experience at some rather major companies.

Titles I've held:

  1. Web Developer
  2. Senior Web Developer
  3. Senior Software Engineer
  4. Senior Developer
  5. Senior Enterprise Architect (current)

For a short time, I even held the title of "Senior Confusion Developer" because our secretary misspelled "ColdFusion" on a business card order. I kinda liked that one. :)

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This guy had the title "Minister of Algorithms". No typo, either. :-) – Peter K. Feb 16 '13 at 0:59

Business use the title of an Engineer loosely. Engineering (as a profession) by law in some countries requires require that you be part of a body or an association, also it incurs legal liabilities on the title holder and requires certain insurance fees for legal issues that may arise. However, this is rarely the case with software.

In the computing industry the Engineer title is more related to jobs that are not of pure business development nature, such as compiler design, device driver programming, embedded deceives programming, simulation programming, etc.

In short, you may be called an Software Engineer, even though your job does not satisfy the above mentioned aspects. You can verify this by visiting recruitment web sites and observing the job titles and their requirements.

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In the US, the laws in each state claim that you must have a PE license to call yourself an engineer. Microsoft and Novell spent time and money in court arguing that no one would confuse MSCE or CNE with a "real" engineer. NCEES, the organization that creates the exams for engineering licensing, are developing a Software Engineering exam. I don't know when it will be done, but they say it "normally takes 2-3 years" to develop one, and they started in late 2009. Further complicating things is that most states are changing PE licensing so that starting in 2015, you will need a masters degree to sit for the PE exam (you will still be able to sit for the FE exam in your senior year in college/university). Some states allow folks without accredited engineering degrees to sit for the exams (but require much longer experience on the job), but those will go away with the 2015 changes.

Most Canadian provinces have a software engineering PE license. Texas had one, but in 2006 changed it so that you need a PhD, a PE (in some other engineering discipline) and taught at the university level (prior to the change, you needed a PE in some other discipline, and had to petition the board of engineers).

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As comment posted - you need a degree to call yourself engineer, for example I'm studding software engineering so therefore when I will graduate I might call myself in this way, but probably I won't since software is only a small part of what I'm capable of.

As for Software Developer - you should develop software, not websites. If you're consider yourself both website developer and software developer - just call your self developer.

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Is a website not software? is somebody who develops a website like not a software developer? – systemovich Sep 7 '11 at 10:30
A web site is not necessarily software. Software is not necessarily a web site. They can overlap, but do not have to: a web site may be software. – Michael Kjörling Sep 7 '11 at 12:08
You absolutely DO NOT need a degree to be an Engineer. Here in the UK there are different Engineering qualification levels. For Chartered Engineer you need an accredited degree or to pass the Engineering Council exams. For Incorporated Engineer the academic requirements are lower. To work as an Engineer does not require anything other than the ability to do the work. Software is more about aptitude than qualification. – ʎəʞo uɐɪ Sep 8 '11 at 7:06
@Ian as you said "Here in the UK"... It differs from place to place. My point is that developer is much better term, and that engineer might be protected by law. Sure it depends on place where you live but still. – JackLeo Sep 8 '11 at 7:27

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