The expertise of a licensed professional engineer may benefit your project even if not required by state law or local jurisdiction.
Professional Engineers licensed in California are required to have many years of education, experience, and pass an examination by California Department of Consumer Affairs Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists(Board).
PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING SERVICES :
Professional Engineers apply their knowledge and skills to provide design, analysis, and evaluation as well as consultation and technical advice on projects such as:
- grading plans
- commercial buildings
- residential buildings
- electrical systems
- heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
- drainage and sewage disposal systems
- masonry walls and retaining walls
- seismic strengthening for projects including retrofitting
- dams, flood level studies, and water supply systems
- improvements for subdivisions
- structural beams and trusses
Civil Engineers may design any building or structure except a hospital or public school. Civil engineers may also perform structural and geotechnical (soils) engineering if fully competent to do so. Civil engineers analyze and design buildings to withstand the natural forces of gravity, earthquakes, or wind, and can provide advice regarding structural design requirements to architects and contractors, as well as to consumers, and may design any building or structure except a hospital or public school. Civil engineers prepare design and repair recommendations for drainage systems, septic systems, foundations, and retaining walls. They also prepare grading plans and topographic maps of the elevations and contours of the land. Civil engineers also may design swimming pools.
Structural Engineers are civil engineers who have obtained additional experience and passed a specialized engineering examination which authorizes them to use the title “Structural Engineer.” Their specialized engineering knowledge and experience enables them to analyze and design buildings or other structures including public schools and hospitals. Structural engineers also provide advice regarding structural design requirements to architects, contractors, and consumers.
Geotechnical Engineers are civil engineers who have obtained additional experience and passed a specialized geotechnical engineering examination which authorizes them to use the titles “Geotechnical Engineer,” “Soil Engineer,” or “Soils Engineer.” Geotechnical engineering includes the investigation and engineering evaluation of earth materials including soil, rock, groundwater, and man-made materials and their interaction with earth retention systems, foundations, and other civil engineering works. Geotechnical engineers apply the principles of soil mechanics and the earth sciences and are knowledgeable about engineering laws, formulas, construction techniques, and performance evaluation of civil engineering works influenced by earth materials.
Electrical Engineers may design electrical systems in commercial buildings, educational facilities, and other projects. Electrical engineering generally includes the design of power distribution, lighting, communications, and other electrical systems. 6 E N G I N E E R S If the plans, calculations, specifications, and reports are not final, permitted, or released for construction, they must ÿ include the licensed engineer’s name and license number include a notation regarding the intended purpose of the document, such as “preliminary,” “not for construction,” “for plan check only,” or “for review only.”
Mechanical Engineers may design mechanical systems in commercial buildings, educational facilities, and other projects. Mechanical engineering generally includes the design of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing, and other mechanical systems.
All civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering plans and specifications that are permitted or released for construction and all final calculations and reports must:
- be prepared by a licensed engineer or by a subordinate under his or her direction;
- be signed and sealed (or stamped) by the licensed engineer;
- include the expiration date of the license;
- include the date on which the licensed engineer signed and sealed the documents; and
- if the plans have multiple pages or sheets, the signature, seal or stamp, expiration date and date of signing and sealing must appear on each sheet of the plans and on the title sheets, cover sheets, or signature sheet of the specifications, calculations, and reports.
It is illegal for anyone to practice or offer to practice civil, electrical or mechanical engineering or to use the title “Civil Engineer,” “Electrical Engineer,” “Mechanical Engineer,” “Geotechnical Engineer,” “Soils Engineer,” or “Structural Engineer” in California unless he or she is currently licensed as such by the Board.
Other engineering titles regulated by the Board include branch titles, which are not practice-regulated. Anyone may practice these branches of engineering, but only engineers licensed by the Board may use the branch title as a personal title or credential. Title licenses are obtained through a process which includes demonstrating qualifications and experience to the Board.
The authority to use the following titles does not permit the person to practice civil, electrical or mechanical engineering:
Agricultural Engineer, Chemical Engineer, Control Systems Engineer, Fire Protection Engineer, Industrial Engineer, Manufacturing Engineer, Metallurgical Engineer, Nuclear Engineer, Petroleum Engineer, and Traffic Engineer.
It is also against the law for anyone other than a professional engineer licensed by this Board to use the titles “Professional Engineer,” “Registered Engineer,” “Licensed Engineer,” or “Consulting Engineer.”
Adapted from California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists