Professional Engineers, Japan
A Professional Engineer is a person who is registered under the Professional Engineer Act, uses the title “Professional Engineer”, and undertakes planning, research, design, analysis, testing, evaluation, and training regarding these activities in areas that require advanced specialist application skills regarding science and technology. Such persons are excellent engineers who possess specialist technical knowledge, advanced application capabilities, a wealth of practical experience concerning science and technology, and have a high level of engineering ethics to ensure their work is in the public interest. Most Professional Engineers work in organizations such as national and local governments and private companies, where they exercise their advanced technical skills. Professional Engineers also work as self-employed consultants in areas such as the following. (1) Preliminary surveys, planning, and design supervision for public works projects (2) Technical surveys and evaluations for audits of operations by local governments (3) Technical surveys and appraisal for courts and non-life insurance agencies, etc. (4) Cooperation in technical consultations promoted by local governments for small and medium-sized enterprises (5) Technical guidance, technical surveys and research, technical evaluation, etc., focusing mainly on small and medium-sized enterprises (6) Consulting on advanced technologies for major companies (7) Technical guidance for developing countries (8) Technical surveys and evaluations of the subject of financing from banks, etc.
The Professional Engineer qualification is a national qualification under the authority of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Qualification as a Professional Engineer is given to competent engineers who possess advanced knowledge and practical skills concerning science and technology while also possessing engineers’ ethics, and only those who have this qualification are permitted to use the title of Professional Engineer. On this basis, the qualification aims to increase societal awareness of, and interest in, Professional Engineers and promote the development of science and technology. Determinations regarding whether or not an engineer possesses specialist academic knowledge and advanced skills for carrying out work are made in individual technical fields, and the Professional Engineer qualification is given in 21 different technical disciplines (or technical fields).
- Mechanical Engineering
- Marine & Ocean
- Electrical & Electronics Engineering
- Fiber & Textiles
- Civil Engineering
- Water Supply & Sewerage
- Environmental Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Information Engineering
- Applied Science
- Biotechnology & Bioengineering
- Nuclear & Radiation
- Engineering Management
With regard to specialist academic knowledge and advanced skills for carrying out work, engineers who are classed as Professional Engineer as defined by the International Engineering Alliance (IEA) are required to be able to provide technical solutions to complex engineering problems at the stage of acquisition of the qualification, and Professional Competency Profiles (EC1-EC12) that they must equip themselves with as specialists have been defined by the IEA. In order to ensure global compatibility, Japanese Professional Engineers must, in the same way as IEA Professional Engineers, have the qualities and skills that enable them to consider matters ethically and logically from a diverse range of perspectives in the process from understanding complex engineering problems and tasks through to surveys and analyses up to finding solutions. The Qualities and Skills Required of Professional Engineers defined by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology sets out the minimum qualities and skills that Professional Engineers must have in seven categories comprised of a preamble, specialist academic knowledge, and skills for carrying out work. It completely incorporates the Professional Competency Profiles of the IEA, and also demands leadership qualities and skills. Below are the preamble, categories, and corresponding profiles.
Professional Engineers shall seek to increase the knowledge they need for their work, and ensure they undertake sufficient continuing professional development (CPD). (EC11: Undertake CPD activities to maintain and extend competences and enhance the ability to adapt to emerging technologies and the ever-changing nature of work)
(1)Specialist academic knowledge
Professional Engineers should be able to comprehend the comprehensive specialist knowledge required for work in the technical discipline (technical field) they specialize in and specialist knowledge regarding selective fields, and the ability to apply this knowledge. (EC1: Comprehend and apply advanced knowledge of the widely-applied principles underpinning good practice)
Professional Engineers should be able to comprehend the requisite specialist knowledge of the law and other such systems, societal conditions, and natural conditions that are unique to Japan, and the ability to apply such knowledge. (EC2: Comprehend and apply advanced knowledge of the widely-applied principles underpinning good practice specific to the jurisdiction of practice)
For complex problems faced in the course of work, Professional Engineers should understand the details, undertake an investigation, and identify and analyze the latent causes of the problems and any constraints in the background of the problems. (EC3: Define, investigate and analyze complex problems using data and information technologies where applicable)
For complex problems, Professional Engineers should take into account conflicting requirements (necessity, functionality, technical feasibility, safety, economy, etc.) and the seriousness of the impact resulting from them, and then create several options and make a logical proposal for a solution or improvement on the basis of these. (EC4: Design or develop solutions to complex problems considering a variety of perspectives and taking account of stakeholder views, EC12: Recognize complexity and assess alternatives in light of competing requirements and incomplete knowledge. Exercise sound judgement in the course of all complex activities)
Professional engineers should allocate resources including personnel, equipment, money, and information in the process of planning, executing, verifying, and correcting (changing) operations, with the objective of meeting requirements related to quality, cost, delivery, and productivity and risk treatment, or the characteristics (necessity, functionality, technical feasibility, safety, economy, etc.) of requirements for deliverables (products, systems, facilities, projects, services, etc.) (EC9: Manage part or all of one or more complex activities)
Professional Engineers should evaluate the results of each stage of their work, the final outcome and its ripple effects, and contribute to the improvement of the next stage or other work. (EC5: Evaluate the outcomes and impacts of complex activities)
In the course of their work, Professional Engineers should communicate clearly and effectively with various parties, including employers, supervisors and colleagues, clients and users, through oral, written, and other methods. (EC10: Communicate and collaborate using multiple media clearly and inclusively with a broad range of stakeholders in the course of all activities)
When engaged in overseas work, in addition to communicating on the basis of a certain level of language skills necessary for work, Professional Engineers should work to understand the social and cultural diversity of the local community and cooperate as far as possible with stakeholders. (EC10: Communicate and collaborate using multiple media clearly and inclusively with a broad range of stakeholders in the course of all activities)
In the performance of work, Professional Engineers should have a clear design and feel for the situation on the ground, and strive to coordinate and pull together the interests of various stakeholders. (EC9: Manage part or all of one or more complex activities)
When engaged in overseas work, Professional Engineers should work with local stakeholders who have diverse values and skills on administering and taking forward projects and other such work. (EC9: Manage part or all of one or more complex activities)
When undertaking work, Professional Engineers should give utmost priority to public safety, health, and welfare, foresee impacts on society, culture, and the environment, and work to ensure the sustainability of society into the next generation through environmental preservation and other such work, while acting ethically as a Professional Engineer with an awareness of their mission, social status and professional responsibilities. (EC6: Recognize the foreseeable economic, social, and environmental effects of complex activities and seek to achieve sustainable outcomes. EC8: Conduct activities ethically)
Professional Engineers should comply with the requirements of the relevant laws and other such frameworks in the performance of work. (EC7: Meet all legal, regulatory, and cultural requirements and protect public health and safety in the course of all activities)
When making decisions in the course of work, Professional Engineers should clearly set out the scope of their work and responsibilities, and take such responsibilities. (EC13: Be responsible for making decisions on part or all of complex activities)
These qualities and skills are checked through the work experience record of a Professional Engineer, as well as written and oral examination. In the oral examination, in particular, a check of practical skills and suitability as a Professional Engineer is performed in reflection upon the written examination and work experience record, and a rigorous, outcome-based check is also performed concerning work performance skills (problem solving, management, evaluation) in the above competencies.