Guidelines for Professional Engineering Practice in New York State
Law, rules and regulations, not Guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and violating them constitutes professional misconduct. Not adhering to this Guideline may be interpreted as professional misconduct only if the conduct also violates pertinent law, rules and regulations, some citations of which are listed at the end of this Guideline.
Guideline 1: Defining the Terms for Providing Professional Services
As a licensed professional engineer, you are required to practice within your authorized scope of practice, as defined in the Education Law, Commissioner’s Regulations and Rules of the Board of Regents. It is your responsibility to be knowledgeable of any restrictions that are based on law or regulation, as well as those that relate specifically to your area of professional competence.
The Rules of the Board of Regents define as unprofessional conduct any practice by a licensed professional engineer that is beyond the licensee's scope of professional competence. Therefore, if you are not competent to provide a service, even one that falls within the legal scope of practice for your profession, you may not provide that service. As a licensed professional, it is your responsibility to practice within the scope of your abilities and expertise. If you practice beyond your personal scope of competence, you can be charged with professional misconduct.
At the outset of service, you should provide your client with information regarding the services that you or your firm can provide to clients, all fees and relevant business procedures, and the expectations required of clients receiving these services. You should involve your clients in the development and implementation of any project to the fullest extent of their abilities.
All consumers of services offered by New York licensed professionals have the legal right to:
- receive competent professional services;
- verify the credentials of licensed professionals and to know the names and titles of licensed professionals who provide service;
- receive clear explanations of the services being offered or provided and how much they cost;
- refuse any service offered;
- know what client records will be maintained and how to obtain copies; recognizing that personally identifiable information normally cannot be revealed without the client’s consent;
- file a complaint with the State Education Department about a licensed professional or an unlicensed practitioner; and
- request and be provided a reasonable accommodation to access professional services, if a person with a disability.
In the State of New York, professional licensure and registration is required to practice engineering and utilize the title “Professional Engineer”. Upon satisfaction of the statutory requirements of Section 7206, a license may be awarded and is valid for the life of the holder unless revoked, annulled or suspended by the Board of Regents. To practice the profession, current registration, renewable every three (3) years with the New York State Education Department is required. Education Law clearly states that only a person licensed or otherwise authorized shall practice engineering or use the title “Professional Engineer”.
Scope of Services
The practice of engineering means any service or work, the performance of which requires engineering education, training, and experience in the application of engineering knowledge and data, and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences to services such as:
- Design of engineering works and systems
- Engineering surveys
- Oversight for the purposes of determining if work is proceeding in compliance with drawings and specifications
The above listed items may embrace such services or work, either public or private, in connection with any utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, work systems, projects, and industrial or consumer products or equipment of a mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, or thermal nature, insofar as they involve safeguarding life, health, or property; and includes such other professional services as may be necessary to the planning, progress, and completion of any engineering services.
Persons and/or entities that practice any branch of engineering (such as civil, environmental, electrical, mechanical, etc.); who, by verbal claim, signature, advertisement, letterhead, or card, or in any other way, represent themselves to be engineers or, through the use of some other title, imply that they are licensed professional engineers, or who hold themselves out as able to perform, or does perform, any engineering service, work or any other service designated by the practitioners which is recognized as engineering, shall be construed to practice or offer to practice engineering within the meaning and intent of Section 7202.
Anyone who aids or abets three or more persons, who use a professional title despite no authority to do so, shall be guilty of a class E felony. Anyone who employs three or more persons who use a professional title in the course of such employment, when not authorized to use such title, shall be guilty of a class E felony.
A person who is authorized to use the title “professional engineer” in another state or jurisdiction may use such title on a business card or letterhead in New York State as long as the jurisdiction within which the person is authorized to practice is clearly indicated.
Health of EngineerIn New York, practicing engineering with impaired ability due to the influence of alcohol or drugs shall be deemed gross incompetence. However, the Professional Assistance Program provides assistance and an opportunity for rehabilitation of a licensed engineer. The engineer who has a substance problem, but who has not harmed a client, may be referred to the New York State Education Department – Office of the Professions’ Professional Assistance Program for confidential assistance as an alternative to a disciplinary proceeding.
Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
- Education Law, section 6509 – “unprofessional conduct”
- Education Law, section 6512 – “unauthorized practice a crime”
- Education Law, section 6513 – “unauthorized use of a professional title a crime”
- Education Law, section 7201 – “definition of practice of engineering”
- Education Law, section 7202 – “Practice of engineering and use of title “professional engineer”
- Education Law, section 7206 – “requirements for a license as a professional engineer”
- Education Law, section 7208 – “exempt persons”
- Regents Rules, part 29.1 – “general provisions”
- Regents Rules, part 29.3 – “general provisions for design professions”
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