Registration for Academics

Registration for Academics

Version 1 (September 2020)
POLICY CATEGORY Registrations - External
AUTHOR Board of Professional Engineers of Queensland
First Draft September 2020
Second Draft
Approved by Board September 2020


The Board of Professional Engineers of Queensland (Board) is a statutory body established under the Professional Engineers Act 2002 (Act), to uphold the standards of practice through regulating the engineering profession in Queensland.


The purpose of this practice note is to offer guidance for engineers working in academia or at universities with regard to their obligations under the Act.


The Board has received some requests for information as to whether someone who is working in an academic role in relation to engineering is obliged to be a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ).


The Act requires any person carrying out a ‘professional engineering service’ must be registered as a RPEQ. A professional engineering service means:

an engineering service that requires, or is based on the application of engineering principles and data to a design, or to a construction, production, operation or maintenance activity, relating to engineering, and does not include an engineering service that is only in accordance with a prescriptive standard.

Under section 115 of the Act; ‘[a] person who is not a practicing professional engineer (RPEQ) must not carry out professional engineering services.’ A maximum penalty of 1000 penalty units applies.

However, a person does not commit an offence if the person carries out the services under the ‘direct supervision’ of a RPEQ who is responsible for the services. Direct supervision requires that ‘a RPEQ … has direct contact and actual knowledge and directs the person in the carrying out of the services and overseas and evaluates the carrying out of the services by the person and takes full professional responsibility for the services’.


In simple terms an academic ‘teaching’ in a university is not required to be registered unless they are engaging in ‘professional engineering services’ as defined by the Act.

To assist engineering academics understand their obligations, the Board offers the following examples of activities that may involve the carrying out of professional engineering services and require the person carrying out the service to be registered or directly supervised:

  • Consultancy services for internal and/or external clients
  • Research and development for commercial purposes
  • Providing technical and/or expert advice
  • Designing experiments and/or devices used in experiments
  • Installation, use and/or operation of plant and infrastructure

The abovementioned example activities, if not done correctly and competently, can adversely impact others (students, researchers, the public). The abovementioned example activities potentially require the application of engineering principles and data to an engineering service and should be carried out by a qualified and competent person.

If an academic is considering undertaking these types of services they should obtain independent legal advice to ensure they are compliant with the Act and they should consider applying to become registered.  The Board takes offences against section 115 very seriously and has the capacity to bring criminal prosecutions for contravention of offences against the Act.


Related legislation:

The Professional Engineers Act 2002