Your Ultimate Guide on How to Become A Professional Engineer

Posted on: March 2, 2022

If you are reading this, then you might either be a student, currently busy with your engineering degree or diploma and maybe considering what comes after graduation, or you are in high school, wondering what the next step is in your life after school, or you are a part of the built environment and you are curious about a career as a PR.Eng (Professional Registered Engineer) or you are a graduate, currently employed as a graduate engineer and you want to know how you can become registered.

Well, stick around because we will unpack all of that right here.

What is ECSA?

ECSA, also known as the Engineering Council of South Africa, is the governing and regulatory body or as per

The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) is a statutory body established in terms of the Engineering Profession Act (EPA), 46 of 2000. The ECSA’s primary role is the regulation of the engineering profession in terms of this Act. Its core functions are the accreditation of engineering programmes, registration of persons as professionals in specified categories, and the regulation of the practice of registered persons.

Consequently, the ECSA is the only body in South Africa that is authorized to register engineering professionals and bestow the use of engineering titles, such as Pr Eng, Pr Tech Eng, Pr Techni Eng, Pr Cert Eng, on persons who have met the requisite professional registration criteria.

Why register with ECSA?

  1. It extends authority amongst your colleagues – Being registered proves that you have met the minimum requirements of practicing and operating as a professional person.
  2. Social proof – It provides the public with the confidence to entrust you with their project as your abilities have been tried and tested, and you have been approved.
  3. Access to Voluntary Associations – It opens the doors to other possibilities and organizations to which you would never have had access, had you not been registered.
  4. International recognition – ECSA is a co-signatory of the Washington Accord, a governing body create on an international level, allowing engineers to get recognition from a variety of countries, such as Australia, New Zeeland, the UK, and Ireland. In essence, this accord acknowledges your qualifications on an international level.
  5. Compliance – Confirmation of registration confirms that you comply with statutory requirements and provides the public, end-user, or client with peace of mind, knowing that the engineer assigned to their project is duly qualified.

For a comprehensive and detailed list, please visit

What type of registration am I doing?

There are two main categories for registering, one, Professional, and two, Candidate.

Category 1, Professional, includes:

  • Professional Engineer.
  • Professional Engineer Technologist.
  • Professional Certified Engineer.
  • Professional Engineering Technician.

Category 2, Candidate, includes:

  • Candidate Engineer.
  • Candidate Engineering Technologist.
  • Professional Certified Engineer

Or the 3rd category, which is specific to the council. ECSA also stipulates that once registered you are not allowed to practice outside the scope of your registration category.

Professional Engineer

For purposes of this article, we will only be dealing with the registration process of a Professional Engineer, for any other specific processes, please review ECSA’s website for further information.

One of the requirements, when a candidate is applying for registration to ECSA, is that as a bare minimum, the candidate should have at least 3 years’ training and experience post qualification.

Once you have met all the requirements and your application has been submitted, is it considered by ECSA internally. If all requirements have been met, then the evaluation starts by circulating the person’s credentials amongst the committee for consideration.

Once your application has been circulated and scrutinized, you will be asked to do a compulsory Professional Review. This is in essence an interview conducted with you.

Registration applications for Civil Engineers differ in that they must write 2 essays in an exam setting.

The process laid out above is purely one of the many options you have to your availability, should you choose engineering as a career, and is by no means limited by this article. The possibilities are endless and there is a variety of career paths to choose from.

Is Engineering a rewarding career?

Well, this all depends on the person.

We asked our internal team to highlight some of the highs, the lows, to give some advice to their younger selves, and here is what they said:

Pros of being an Engineer (Civil & Structural):

  1. You get to work with a variety of problems and challenges.
  2. You get to work with a variety of people, on a daily, weekly basis.
  3. You get to do site visits, and you don’t have to sit in the office the whole day.
  4. You get to apply your skills directly to a problem.
  5. The designing part of Engineering is the most rewarding for one of our engineers.
  6. You get to see a finished, final product in real life.

Cons of being an Engineer (Civil & Structural):

  1. There is a lot of pressure.
  2. Once you enter the working environment, you must undergo quite extensive training to get you up to par and self-sufficient.
  3. Deadlines are quite tight.
  4. Being on-site for construction can be grueling some days.
  5. You must be great at math (maybe this isn’t a con, but just saying).
  6. There is a lot of software to learn.

Advice from the team:

  • Take more risks when you are just starting your career as an engineer.
  • Learn as much as you can about the software that is used in the industry.
  • Attend extra schooling to become proficient in the software used in the industry.
  • Consider if Engineering will still be a career 20 years from now, or to what extent tech would’ve changed it.
  • Make sure you understand the difference between what an architect does versus what an engineer does.
  • Make sure you learn as much as possible when completing your 6 weeks of practical training at a firm (not all universities require 6 weeks of practical training).
  • Engineering can sometimes be a steppingstone to another part of the industry, like becoming a project manager in your respective field.

In Conclusion

Engineering can be an extremely rewarding career if you put in the time and the effort.

It is filled with a lot of rewards, both personal and professional.

The road to get there is long and arduous, but worth it.

Make sure that you have enough information about the career path you have chosen and also ensure that you give yourself ample time to consider other options. Something that sounds good on paper might not always be all that it seems. Speak to as many people as possible in the industry before concluding a career path.

There is nothing worse than having regrets later on in life, once you have dedicated the better part of a decade to something that just isn’t working.

If you feel you need to speak to someone about a possible career in engineering, we have 6 in-house engineers who would be more than willing to chat to you about that, simply drop us a mail at and we will make that happen.


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Jason Nyatanga
Jason Nyatanga
2 years ago

Absolutely loved this, very innovative.

Thank you D&I Associates….