Professional registration for engineers: What is the difference between Chartered and Registered? By Tom Gouldie, 29 Apr 2013

It’s understandable that there could be confusion between the terms 'Chartered' and 'Registered' when speaking about Professional Engineers in Australia. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but there are certainly differences between them.

Chartered is a status conferred upon an engineer in Australia by Engineers Australia to certify that you practice in a competent, independent and ethical manner. It is obtained by satisfying defined Competency Standards, agreeing to maintain those competencies by Continuing Professional Development, and committing to ethical standards contained in the Engineers Australia Code of Ethics. You must be a member of Engineers Australia to become Chartered, and your Chartered status is transferable to several other countries through Mutual Recognition Agreements in place through Engineers Australia. Legislation calling for professional engineers in Australia does not specify Chartered status as a requirement. Obtaining Chartered status allows individuals to use the postnominals CPEng.

Registered status is gained by satisfying the requirements of the National Engineering Registration Board (NERB) to attain National Professional Engineering Registration (NPER) status, or by satisfying the requirements of the Board of Professional Engineers Queensland (BPEQ) to attain Registered Professional Engineer Queensland (RPEQ) status. Becoming Registered is similar to becoming licensed to practice professional engineering. Registration for either NPER or RPEQ requires satisfying the same defined Competency Standards, agreeing to maintain those competencies by Continuing Professional Development, and committing to similar ethical standards as for becoming Chartered, but individuals do not have to join Engineers Australia or become Chartered to become Registered. Both Boards are independent of Engineers Australia.

An important difference between attaining CPEng vs NPER or RPEQ is that a person does not obtain CPEng in any particular discipline or area of practice, so a person cannot become a Chartered Petroleum Engineer, for instance. However, NPER or RPEQ are deliberately focused on engineering disciplines, so that a person becomes Registered in Petroleum, or Mechanical, or Civil, etc. A person can become Registered in more than one discipline, as long as they are assessed as competent in each of the disciplines and can maintain those competencies by Continuing Professional Development.

You can become Chartered, or become Registered, or both if you wish. You can be Registered as NPER, or as RPEQ, or both if you wish. Many engineers are becoming Registered as RPEQ to satisfy the Queensland Professional Engineers Act 2002. Queensland is the only Australian state to have legislation requiring registration to perform professional engineering services.

If you need clarification of any of the above, or wish to confirm anything else relating to the relationship between SPE and Engineers Australia, contact one of the below SPE-EA Liaison Representatives in your Section:


SPE-EA Liaison



Alberto Kamenar


Rick Nash

South Australia

Tom Gouldie

New South Wales/ACT

Dean Graves

Western Australia

Mark Jackson