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I'm based in the UK and have been developing software for over 10 years so think I am a reasonable way through my career. On and off in various jobs I have had I have been members of various institutions, the BCS and the IEE being the main ones. At the moment I am not a member of either.

I have tended to work in areas where most people are system engineers rather than software engineers but there has generally been a push to try and get everyone chartered at a level or other. However I actually do not know what use chartership has for me. Many senior people I have worked with say hat they have never bothered. It has never been part of any interview I have been one and it seems to make no difference to pay/training/conditions etc.

So, can anyone tell me if looking at chartership for software roles is useful or important and if so, should I be looking at BCS or IEE?

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Please never use the career tag again, it's deprecated. Career advise is off topic, as per our FAQ. –  Yannis Rizos Feb 13 '12 at 12:11
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If there is no advantage at being a member what is the point of membership? –  Karlson Feb 13 '12 at 12:11
    
@YannisRizos Thank you for the updates to the tag and I apologise for the mistake in tagging. –  Firedragon Feb 13 '12 at 12:55
    
@Karlson - I think that Firedragon is attempting to work out whether there are advantages to BCS or IET membership and incorporation/chartering that he/she is missing at the moment. It may not have appeared to have been important in the past, but maybe there are situations in which it might be (or become) important. –  Mark Booth Feb 13 '12 at 13:41
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@MarkBooth Having gone through the benefits of BCS I can't find anything that would make it worth it. In addition I can't say that until Chartered/Professional Software Engineers are held to the same level of responsibility as the tangible (for the lack of the better word) engineering disciplines there won't be any real worth to being a member. –  Karlson Feb 13 '12 at 14:46

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In the UK, membership of a professional organisation is more of a personal choice than anything else. Do you want the status and recognition it brings? Would the networking opportunities help your career?

If you are going to make use of the networking opportunities the BCS and IET membership can provide, then you may find that your status in those circles may be influenced by whether you are an incorporated or chartered member. This networking may help you find out about job opportunities you wouldn't normally have found out about, so might help you attain a higher salary and/or more interesting job.

If your company is happy to pay your professional membership, you have nothing to lose by becoming a member. Once you are are incorporated or chartered though, you will have to make sure that future employers are also happy to pay your subscriptions, otherwise you will have to make the decision about whether it is worth paying your membership yourself or letting your membership lapse.

Also note though that while we have no legal requirement in the UK to be a registered Engineer in order to call ourselves Software Engineers (only to call ourselves Chartered Software Engineers), this is not the case everywhere in the world.

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There is a legal requirement for registration to be a Chartered Engineer in the UK. There's no real benefit to having that when working with Software Engineering though. –  Donal Fellows Feb 13 '12 at 13:23
    
@DonalFellows - Thanks, I hope my edit makes what I meant more explicit. –  Mark Booth Feb 13 '12 at 13:28
    
@markbooth To my knowledge most charters don't include software engineers. –  Karlson Feb 13 '12 at 13:46
    
@Karlson - I suspect that the British Computer Society, the Intitute of Engineering & Technology, the Engineering Council and all of the UK's CEng & IEng software engineers would disagree. They have been awarding and sponsoring software engineers' IEng's and CEng's for years. Back in the early 90's, my degree was accredited by both BCS and IEE (now IET) as fulfilling their educational requirements and I've recently been to an IET presentation trying to persuade us to join the IET and become a charactered or incorporated engineer, as a software engineer. –  Mark Booth Feb 13 '12 at 14:41
    
@MarkBooth And have you? –  Karlson Feb 13 '12 at 14:48

I don't think that is a not an uncommon question when it comes to these institutions.

When I graduated, I was a member of IEAust (Australia's equivalent for the IEE) for a number of years, working towards being Charted. However, I came to the realisation that being charted does not really advance my career (I'm a software engineer) in any way. I mean, it does provide some opportunity to network among other engineers, or to give me some opportunity to have a governmental dialogue about engineering. However, overall I did not gain anything significantly positive from it, and the cost isn't cheap either.

The one thing that I know is that some sectors/countries requires the engineers to be charted, similar to lawyers being in the bar prior to practising.

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