The professional review guideline for reviewers

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Programme on the day of the Professional Review

With reference to the Discipline Specific Guidelines published by ECSA, (attached) and the guidelines for reviewers (attached) the programme will be as follows:

  • Review total time approximately 60 minutes

  • Reviewers' preparation 10 minutes

  • The actual review should last approximately 45 minutes

  • Completion of the review report form 5 minutes

The writing of Essays may be required as an exception to the rule where the need is identified to assess a candidate’s written communication skills, in English.

This will comprise - 

  •      A first essay on one of two technical subjects set by the reviewers with reference to the training report and the review. (90 Minutes).

  •      A second essay on one of two topics selected by the reviewers from the list of topics published annually by SAIEE. (Copy attached) (90 Minutes).

There will be supervision for the writing of the essays and no material will be allowed in the room.  The lead reviewer is requested to assist with the supervision.

The essays should be marked by both reviewers and returned to the SAIEE within two weeks after the review.  The Engineering Council of South Africa will then inform the applicant of the results after the meetings of the Professional Advisory Committee on Electrical Engineering and Registration Committee - a delay of 6 - 12 weeks.




1.        Introduction

These notes will help reviewers to continue to ensure that a uniform standard of assessment is maintained and that candidates are fairly treated in all cases.  The notes refer only to reviews for registration as a professional engineer.  If candidates are employed in non-traditional fields of engineering, the reviewers should consider whether they require specific knowledge or expertise to appropriately assess the candidate's experience.

2.       General points affecting Reviews

2.1     All candidates must attend a review.  Therefore candidates attending a review need not be regarded as marginal cases.

2.2     A review is conducted on the basis of the account of working experience given on the candidate’s application form.  The objective of the review is to determine whether the candidate has achieved three years Responsible Experience (RE) at a professional level after graduation to the satisfaction of ECSA's requirements as set out in the discipline specific guidelines for electrical engineers.  Reviewers are not required to assess academic qualifications and training (this has normally been done prior to the review – see office box on candidate’s application form).  Reviewers may, however, discuss with the candidate, work carried out during training if they feel that this will assist them in deciding their recommendation.  Please note that RE has to be subsequent to the date of graduation with a recognised bachelor's degree in engineering.

2.3     Although a technical paper is not normally required the reviewers may recommend that the PAC should consider asking the candidate to submit a paper describing a recent piece of work.  This recommendation should only be made in rare cases where reviewers find it otherwise impossible to reach a recommendation or where there exists doubt as to the candidate's ability to communicate clearly in English.

2.4     The PAC has agreed that candidates should not be reviewed by a member employed in the same organisation except, for example, in a Government Department, Public Corporation or other large body where one of the reviewers may from part of the organisation other than that in which the candidate is employed.  If reviewers think they have a direct professional or personal connection with the candidate, it is essential that they immediately inform the secretariat so that, if necessary, other arrangements can be made.

2.5     Under no circumstances should the mentor, supervising engineer or referees of an applicant act as reviewers for that candidate.

2.6     RE can range from that of the research/development worker, technique specialists and independent consultants, with no subordinate staff, to that of the engineering manager whose main responsibilities are for the management of subordinate staff.  Useful ‘yardsticks’ to identify RE are:

(a)     Is the candidate making adequate use of his/her engineering knowledge and training?

(b)     Could the work be carried out by a technician or a technologist?

(c)     Is the candidate making technical and/or administrative decision at a professional level?

(d)     Has the candidate satisfied all the requirements of the discipline specific guidelines?

2.7     Reviews should occupy one hour (10 minutes for discussion prior to the scheduled start time of the review, 45 minutes for discussion with the candidate, leaving sufficient time for completion of the review report form).  However, some flexibility should be allowed, particularly if the candidate is nervous or has difficulty in presenting his/her case for some other good reason.  Sympathetic handling will certainly help.

2.8     It is strongly recommended that reviewers should introduce themselves to the candidate but they should not interview candidates with whom they have a direct personal or professional connection.  If it transpires at the review that a reviewer knows the candidate the best course is to ask the candidate if there is any objection to review proceeding.

2.9     Reviewers should aim at a relaxed and informal discussion with the candidate and avoid undue ‘technical grilling’.

2.10   A member of ECSA's professional staff or secretariat should not act as an reviewer.  He/she will, of course, be ready to advise the reviewers in the application of policy and procedure, the completion of the interview report and to maintain continuity in decision-making.

2.11    Reviewers should arrive at the interview room about 10 minutes before the start of a review to allow time for the initial procedure outlined in Section 3.

3.        Initial procedure

3.1     The form and course of the review will depend to some extent on the particular candidate.  However, it is desirable for reviews to follow a common pattern. Before the candidate is called the reviewers should briefly discuss the details of the case (they will normally have studied a copy of each application before they arrive), note the remarks made by the referees and agree which reviewer should lead the proceedings.  Although it is not desirable to organise the review in too much detail, the reviewers should have a clear understanding of the part each is going to play.  They should agree on the key issues and questions to be asked, beforehand.

3.2     A prompt start should be made since delay might jeopardise the performance of a nervous individual.  In the event of a review overrunning the allotted time, the reviewers should ensure that the next candidate is given an indication of the likely period of delay.

3.3     It will help if candidates are allowed to give their answers without unnecessary interruption.  The time belongs to the candidate and reviewers should resist the temptation to air at length an individual opinion or pet-topic.

3.4     It must be remembered that, for most candidates, reviews are an ordeal, the results of which will almost certainly affect their future careers.  The first objective should be to put the candidate at ease.  He/she should be welcomed and informed that reference may be made to any notes or document he/she has brought to the review.  In order to achieve a relaxed and friendly atmosphere reviewers should avoid using titles like ‘professor’ or military ranks when they introduce themselves as this may intimidate a nervous candidate.

3.5     The aim of the review is to draw out all the information from candidate that will help him/her to overcome personal barriers such as nervousness or modesty, on the one hand, or a glib tongue on the other.  This will probably be achieved more readily through a dialogue than an examination.

3.6     A little time spent in general conversation about the candidate's mentor or referees and early history may help a candidate to settle down.  However, if the preliminaries are prolonged, a candidate may well complain that time was wasted on irrelevant matters, particularly if refused.

4.        Assessment of the candidate’s responsibilities

4.1     The reviewers will have gained far more information than would have been available to the PAC and it is expected that they will reach an agreed recommendation.  If they are unable to agree, they should not hold up the next candidate, but should state their opinion in separate notes to the PAC.

4.2     Reviewers should bear in mind that candidates carrying adequate responsibility in such areas as research, financial, technical, administration, or as an individual consultant may qualify for registration.  It is however usually required for a candidate to have had experience of a managerial/supervisory nature. Equally, experience in a specialised field may not preclude a candidate from succeeding.  However, it is important that the job he/she is doing requires the education and training of a professional engineer.

4.3     There are an increasing number of candidates applying who are self-employed and allowance should be made for the person who is totally responsible for his/her own business.  Similarly the number of self-employed people who operate as contract engineers is increasing.  In this latter case, it is important to discover if he/she is employed by the firms mentioned, as well as discovering the real responsibility undertaken.

4.4     Basically the reviewers need to analyse the candidate’s work to find out:

(a)     what is done, the circumstances in which action is taken, how and by whom the decisions are made?

(b)     how the work involves professional engineering responsibility, and

(c)     the candidate’s personal contribution, responsibility and professional approach.

4.5     Reviewers should seek evidence that will support the application rather than finding reasons for rejecting it, but their recommendation must be based on the preservation of the status of, and legal requirements for, registration.

4.6      Broader aspects – Engineering responsibility

Provided that ECSA’s minimum technical requirements are satisfied, responsible experience may be evaluated by broadening the field beyond purely engineering experience to include professional responsibility in such associated fields as management, marketing or sales.  In addition to the level of work performed, appropriate weight should be given to the manner in which it is executed, taking into account the following criteria:

(a)    the candidate’s academic record;

(b)    the nature and record of training;

(c)    record and rate of progress;

(d)    potential for further responsibility and progression;

(e)    personal qualities and professional attitude; and

(f)     interpersonal skills.

4.7      It is necessary to deal with each case on its merits and no firm guidelines can be laid down. Answers to the following questions may be helpful in reaching a decision.  Is the candidate -

(a)     committed and making progress in his/her present work, which is of a level that might be expected of a professional engineer?

(b)     undertaking responsibility that could not be carried out by an individual who has not been educated and trained as an engineer?

(c)     carrying adequate responsibility in the particular field?

(d)     impressive, but lacks intimate knowledge of the work?

5.       Conducting the Review

5.1      It is most important that reviewers should not get into conflict with a candidate on any issue.  It should be remembered that the candidate is already exposed to a stressful situation.  The review is the candidate’s opportunity to make those points which he/she believes to be important and it is not up to the reviewers to take an unreasonable opposing view.  It is suggested that after welcoming the candidate to the review and conducting initial introductions reviewers should:

(a)     Explain that the purpose of the review is to establish if the candidate is qualified to be registered, rather than finding ways or reasons against acceptance, and to enhance the information given in the application for registration.

(b)     Ascertain the professional relationship between the candidate and his/her referees.

(c)     Check the candidate’s present position and organisation tree and note any changes, especially in relation to current responsibilities.  If any changes have taken place these should be recorded in the review report.

(d)     Discuss the candidate’s past and present work to ascertain the extent and duration of personal responsibility.  Try to draw out information that will indicate the degree of originality and professionalism of outlook and reasoning involved in reaching decisions requiring the exercise of professional engineering judgment.  When the reviewers are searching for a period of three years’ responsible experience accumulated from a much longer period of experience, it is sometimes helpful to ask candidates to indicate during which period(s) they carried the highest level of responsibility.

(e)     Ask questions of sufficient depth appropriate to the work the candidate claims to be engaged in to ascertain whether he/she understands its technical content and the fundamentals of day-to-day duties as well as its relationship to other work carried out in the organisation.  The candidate should not just be familiar with the “jargon”.  Examine implications of the work and level of decision-making required by the candidate.

(f)      Ask the candidate to quote examples and to elaborate on tasks undertaken that would illustrate his/her professional contribution and responsibility.

(g)     Ask further questions on his/her sub-branch of engineering, but in a wider context, to get some idea of the breadth of knowledge and interests.

(h)     Ask about longer-term career/job interests/projects.

(j)      Ask the candidate how he/she keeps abreast of advancing technologies and if he/she undertakes any technical or management training for personal and continuing professional development.

(k)     Ask the candidate what his/her special interests in registration are.

(l)      At the end of the review offer the candidate the opportunity of raising any points of importance or to ask questions about things that may not have been covered adequately during the discussion.  Candidates should also be asked whether they considered review as fair.  While reviewers may display discomfort about a candidate’s shortcomings, and in fact explore the extent of the shortcomings, reviewers should under no circumstances create the impression that their discomfort will lead to the final outcome of the review, nor should advice be given about a candidate’s career.

(m)     Finally, tell the candidate that the information provided would be submitted to the PAC and then the Registration Committee for the final decisions.  Also point out that some time will elapse before the result is known.  Normally, a period of twelve to twenty four weeks between the date of the review and the final decision is required.

5.2      Classified information or Commercial Security: If the candidate claims to be employed on work covered by the Official Secrets Act or affected by commercial security restrictions and the reviewers are not security/commercially cleared, reviewers should make it clear that they are only interested in the level of electrical/electronic/software or manufacturing engineering responsibility.  They should also avoid pressing the candidate to answer questions that may be security sensitive.  Candidates should be able to discuss their work in general terms but, if it appears that they are constrained in revealing sensitive information essential to assessment of the application, reviewers should consider recommending a further review by appropriately cleared reviewers.

6.      Reviewers’ conclusion

6.1   The reviewers are expected to reach a final conclusion, such as recommending unconditional approval of an application, deferring finalisation of an application  until a later date or outright refusal of an application.  The various formal  recommendations are explained in section 7.  In reaching their  recommendation they should judge whether a candidate is making good use of  his/her education and training as an engineer in the particular field of activity chosen. Reviewers should of course start with an open mind in each case, biased, if anything, towards  finding sufficient evidence to register a candidate than to finding reasons for not accepting a candidate. They should apply a careful and responsible interpretation of RE.

6.2   Completing the Review Report

          The review form is intended to simplify procedure by aiming at a Yes or No answer to specific questions.  Shades of assessment are best left to the section for general comments. All sections of the form must be completed including the start and end time of the review.

6.3     If the candidate has been educated and trained as an electrical, electronic, software or manufacturing engineer and has clearly proved sufficient responsibility in the profession for a minimum of three years, are there any other overriding reasons for refusing acceptance?  If not, the reviewers must recommend registration.

6.4     If the candidate is working in a highly specialised field, does he/she acquit him/herself well in the specialised subject and exhibit a professional approach?  Specialisation is not, in itself, a bar to registration but it is essential that the candidate should be aware of the broader technological implications of  the work and its bearing on fringe or allied technologies and  have met the minimum requirements of the discipline specific guidelines.

6.5     Non-continuous period of responsibility

          Some candidates from sectors such as the Armed Forces or Patent Agents may attain a level of Responsible Experience that is interrupted by a period of transfer to an activity that does not involve engineering responsibility.  In such cases, the identifiable periods of Responsible Experience should be aggregated and clearly identified in section 3(b) of the membership review report Form.

6.6     General comments (Section 4 of review report form)

(a)   Reviewers should take particular care to provide adequate comments, as this is the most important communication to the PAC.  A review normally creates an impression drawn mainly from such factors as the candidate’s reactions in discussion and the way responses are developed.  A sense of purpose and professional integrity for example will favour the candidate in spite of an apparent inadequacy of answers by the candidate to some of the direct questions conveyed by the ticks in the boxes.  A reference to such qualities should be included here.

(b)   Reviewers should explain and justify their reasons for the recommendation given in Section 5 of the review report.  Remarks like ‘A good candidate’or ‘has not met the requirements’ are not helpful.  By contrast, tabling an illustration of evidence gained such as ‘from when given responsibility for approving the specification/design’ is constructive.  If the recommendation is based upon the ‘Broader Aspects’ this should be clearly explained.

(c)   In the event of an negative recommendation, the reviewers should also indicate, in this section, ways in which the candidate could be helped through direct contact with a Mentor.

7.       Recommendations to Professional Advisory Committee

          The following recommendations are open to the reviewers:

7.1       Register
The candidate has met all the requirements for registration.

7.2       Remain – date (Month and year)

The candidate should remain a CE and complete a further period of experiential training and submit appropriate and requisite reports for consideration by the PAC 

7.3     Defer – date (Month and year)

The candidate should complete a further period of experiential training and submit appropriate and requisite reports for consideration by the PAC

7.4       Refuse

The nature of the candidate’s responsibility is inadequate and he/she has not demonstrated the capacity for carrying professional responsibility.  Continuing at current level of responsibility the candidate will not qualify for registration.

8.     Post – Review procedures and membership committees

8.1     Following the review the PAC, together with the review report, considers

         each application.

8.2     The PAC takes a fresh look at the applications in the light of the review report and any other information received.  The PAC is required to maintain a uniformity of standards in the decisions taken and to ensure that all candidates have received fair consideration.

8.3     In the majority of cases the PAC accepts the reviewers’ recommendations. Occasionally, it is necessary to refer back to reviewers for clarification, or for additional comments.  Reviewers should, therefore, be prepared to substantiate their recommendations.  It can be assumed that if the reviewers are not contacted following the review the PAC has accepted their recommendation.  The decisions made by the PAC are the same as the recommendations available to the reviewers.

8.4     In a few cases candidates request reconsideration of their applications.  The PAC will first consider the application and if considered appropriate the PAC may request the reviewers, a mentor or referee to comment on any additional information provided by the candidate.  In exceptional cases the PAC may grant another review, which will be conducted by different reviewers.




  • Discipline Specific Guidelines

  • Policy Statement R2/1A

1.          General
            As with training, it is advocated that in measuring responsible experience
            emphasis should be placed on performance in the job so that any minimum
            periods mentioned should be regarded as guidelines only.  It is important that
            those intending to register as Professional Engineers should be entrusted with
            early responsibility.

            Candidates must be competent in the English language.

2.        Elements of Responsible Experience for Professional Engineers

Those intending to become Professional Engineers will be considered to be gaining responsible experience when their employment requires them to develop and prove fully their technical competence and to demonstrate a satisfactory range of functions and characteristics, which may include:

2.1      the exercise of independent technical judgment requiring both practical
            experience and the application of engineering principles,

           2.2      direct responsibility for the management and guidance of technical staff

           and other resources,

 2.3      innovation in technical matters through such activities as design,

 development, research and manufacturing technology,

 2.4    professional and personal integrity and responsible attitude to engineering and changes in the field of technology,

            2.5   understanding and taking account of financial, economic, commercial,
          statutory and national considerations,

            2.6    creation of systems and procedures and ensuring their cost-effectiveness,

            2.7   design, development and manufacture of products, equipment and
          processes to a competitive level of cost, safety, quality, reliability and

            2.8    involvement in human and industrial relations.

            The components listed include the requirements of the discipline specific guidelines
            and it is unlikely that sufficient responsible experience of the level required could
            be obtained in less than the full three years required.  A mature engineer
            graduating after suitable experience will still require at least three years of
            responsible experience after graduation.

            Registered professional engineers are expected to apply their respective codes

of professional conduct, to undertake work within their expertise and to exercise
a responsible attitude to society with regard to ethical, economic and environmental impact of technical need and change.

          The following guidelines serve to distinguish between qualifying experience for professional engineers and for technologists.

          Each list is arranged in a descending order of responsibility level, though clearly the relative importance of the items may vary somewhat from one situation to another.

          There is inevitably an overlap in duties between Professional Engineers and Professional Technologists.  It is expected that Professional Engineers would mainly be concerned with topics in the first part of each list, while Technologists would mainly be concerned with those in the second part of each list.  Also, it is expected that Professional Engineers would normally be concerned with a broader range of those activities than Professional Technologists.

         Activities in various lists may overlap, i.e. quality assurance.

(1)       Design

(a)    Managerial responsibility for an engineering design function or group.

(b)   Supervising preparation of designs.

(c)   Engineering design outside the scope of established procedures, standards and codes of practice to a competitive level of cost, safety, quality and reliability.

(d)   Promotion of advanced designs and design methods. Continual development of standards and codes internationally.

(e)   Failure analysis and value engineering.

(f)    Design work involving established procedures and the use of Engineering Standards and Codes of Practice to a competitive level of cost, safety, quality, reliability and appearance.

(2)       Research and Development

(a)    Leading research and development effort in engineering resulting in the design, development and manufacture of products, equipment and processes to a competitive level of cost, safety, quality, reliability and appearance.

(b)    Managing engineering research and development groups, planning and execution of research and development programmes, carrying out research and development assignments.

(c)    Evaluation of test results and interpretation of data.  Preparing reports and recommendations.

(3)     Engineering Practice

(a)    The exercise of independent technical judgement and the application of engineering principles.

(b)    Application of theoretical knowledge to the marketing, operation and maintenance of products and services.

(c)   Development and application of new technologies.

(d)   Monitoring progress on a world-wide basis, assimilation of such information and independent contributions to the development of engineering science and its applications.

(e)   Work involving the need to understand and apply analytical and technical skills and judgement and the use of a range of equipment, techniques and methods for measurement, control, operation, fault diagnosis, maintenance and for protection of the environment.

(4)    Manufacture, Installation, Construction

(a)   Managerial responsibility for a production, installation, construction or dismantling function.

(b)    Organisation of cost effective manufacturing functions.

(c)   The introduction of new and more efficient production techniques and of installation and construction concepts.

(d)   Organisation of quality-driven manufacture, installation and construction functions.

(e)    Day-to-day organisation and supervision of manufacturing, installation, and construction functions from raw material input to finished product.

(5)     Operation and Maintenance

(a)    Managerial responsibility for an operation or maintenance function or group.

(b)    Providing specifications of operational maintainability standards to be achieved in design and production.

(c)    Determining operational maintenance requirements in terms of tasks to be performed and time intervals between tasks.

(d)    Managing the quality of the output of operational maintenance activities.

(e)    Developing and specifying diagnostic techniques and procedures.

(f)    Developing and specifying repair and rectification methods.

(g)    Assessing the actual and expected effect on performance of deterioration in service.

(6)    Health, Safety, Reliability

(a)    Making appropriate provision in engineering projects to ensure safety and the required standards of reliability, not only with employees and customers in mind but also in the general public interest.

(b)   Responsibility for health, safety, reliability in situations involving engineering plant, systems, processes or activities.

(c)    Accident investigation.

(d)    Supervision of inspection and test procedures.

(7)    Management and Planning

(a)   Overall company/commercial responsibility as a director with engineering knowledge.

(b)    Longer range and strategic planning of engineering activities and functions.

(c)    Management of the development and implementation of new technologies with estimation of the cost/benefit of the financial, social and political decisions taken.

(d)    Pioneering of new engineering services and management methods.

(e)    Effective direction of advanced existing technology involving high risk and capital intensive projects.

(f)     Direct responsibility for the management or guidance of technical staff and other resources.

(g)    Supervision of engineering staff and resources and the associated legal, financial and economic practice at a level commensurate with the scale of the activity and size or organisation within the constraints of the relevant environment.

(h)    Short-range planning of engineering activities and functions.

(8)    Engineering Aspects of Marketing

(a)    Management responsibility for a technical marketing function.

(b)    Top-level customer and contract negotiations.

(c)    Setting marketing objectives and policies.

(d)    Territorial or market planning forecasts and targets.

(e)    Management responsibility for the dissemination of accurate technical information.

(f)    Customer technical advisory service.

(g)    Market analysis, contract negotiations.

(h)    Non-standard customer requirements.

(i)     Sales operations, efficient market coverage.

(j)     Preparing cost estimates and proposals.

(9)    Teaching, Training, Career Development

        (a)   Academic (teaching) responsibility for engineering courses and

       activities at under- and postgraduate level.

        (b)   Career development for professional engineers and professional


        (c)    Responsibility for training and the supervision of experience for those

       intending to become professional engineers.

        (d)    Academic (teaching) responsibility for courses and activities up to

       Higher National Diploma in engineering/ BTECH.

        (e)    Career development for engineering technicians.

        (f)     Responsibility for training and the supervision of experience for those
        intending to become professional technologists or registered
        engineering technicians.

Annexure 3


Software Engineers engaged in professional activities may be eligible for registration, subject to their satisfying the academic and training requirements, and demonstrating that they have exercised three years of Responsible Experience (RE).

The criteria used for the assessment of RE in other development and management activities can be applied directly to those engaged in software engineering, but great care must be taken to assess the task and not the job title, as the job title may cause confusion if comparisons are attempted.

Those engaged in the development of software languages or new concepts (e.g. new types of operating systems) may need to be assessed as specialists in their particular field.

The nature of the application or project, which uses the software or system, that is the work of the candidate software engineer, is not normally relevant to eligibility for membership.


Coding, or work carried out under detailed supervision, or within procedures developed by others.

Not RE

Routine updating of records or data, or the conventional use of off the shelf software.

Not normally RE

Sales activities requiring a detailed knowledge of software

May be RE

Activities such as requirements or systems analysis, reverse engineering and the associated implementation

Should be RE

Specifying or designing software (including software tools), to meet requirements needing an overall understanding of the business or technical process, to which the software will be applied.

Should be RE

Managing a group of software designers or systems analysts.

May be SR

Overall responsibility for the systems of software of a major project.


May be SR


Self-employed software consultants should not be confused with consultants employed by the larger software or system houses.


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