Friday, January 30, 2009


A friend of mine is currently taking her third of five (or six?) tests to become an architect. She's already been working as an architect and has found good success working for others, but if she wants her own practice at some point she must pass these tests. Apparently these tests, and not her education and work experience will ensure she's qualified. Architecture is far from unique in this regard. Licensing is one of the reasons why doctors in the United States make so much more, on average, than doctors in France. Members of professions generally like licensing because it creates a barrier that some individuals may not want to bother with. Hence, we will get fewer people wanting to work in those industries. This bids up the wages for people in those sectors.

So I was not surprised to see that the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) wants to increase the mandatory educational requirements for professional licensure in engineering. I was surprised, however, to see that this proposal has met with considerable pushback by other engineering associations. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), opposes such a change and issued a statement to that effect. From their press release:

The NCEES plan, known as “Master’s or Equivalent,” proposes 30 additional credits or a master’s degree, on top of the bachelor’s, for licensure. ASME states that the higher educational requirements are unnecessary.

“There is no evidence to suggest that adding 30 credit hours, representing a full academic year of upper-level undergraduate coursework or graduate-level coursework, will have a positive impact on the public’s health and safety,” according to the position statement.

This will be interesting to follow, not just for science and tech folks.

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