Regulating Licensed Software Engineers to Protect Public Safety

APEGA supports the innovation and diversification of Alberta’s economy, including the technology and software sectors. Mitigating any risks to public safety is of primary importance. Registered software engineers, P.Eng., are licensed and adhere to an ethical set of responsibilities and accountabilities.

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Changes to the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act Regarding the Title of Software Engineer

Jay Nagendran, P.Eng., FCAE, ICD.D, FEC, FGC (Hon.)

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Software Engineering is a Discipline

Computer and software engineering exist as distinct disciplines of engineering (along with more than 100 other disciplines). We have many licensed professional members who are also software engineers (see some of our featured member profiles below). The way to distinguish between a software engineer who is professionally licensed and one that isn't is to look for the P.Eng. title. The public can verify their credentials by checking APEGA's register on

Title protection also exists in many other professions in Alberta and Canada—the public can rely on the knowledge that accountants, architects, lawyers, pharmacists, and physicians possess the ethical, professional, and technical competencies to perform their work skillfully and safely. Protected titles signify those who use them meet and are held accountable for their work through practice standards, legislation, and regulation. They signify a commitment to minimize the potential for harm to life, health, the environment, property, and the economy.

By regulating the restricted use of titles and designations, as is our obligation under the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act, APEGA maintains the public’s trust in the engineering profession to keep our communities safe.

Practice systems diagram, illustrating the many different practice specializations of engineers and geoscientists

Click to view larger image

Applying to APEGA as a licensed software engineer

Licensure with APEGA as a software engineer, P.Eng., follows the same process all applicants undertake. Because computer and software engineering is a discipline of engineering, you must have the required educational background and work experience, just as any other engineering applicant, to become a licensed software engineer.

The application process is summarized in the following process chart.

7 Steps to become a professional member (details in the page text)

Learn how to apply as a professional member

    Frequently Asked Questions about Software Engineering in Alberta

  • The government’s decision to remove title protection for “software engineer” stemmed from lobbying by the technology industry as they believed that not using the title prevented them from recruiting top talent in Alberta.

  • Public safety is the top priority for APEGA. We will continue to use our regulatory tools to ensure engineering is only done by licensed individuals and companies. This exemption, however, makes it harder to regulate the software industry.

  • Licensed professionals will have a P.Eng. designation after their names, and the public can verify their credentials by checking APEGA's register on

  • Engineering and the title of engineer are regulated in all Canadian provinces and territories. Removing title protection for “software engineer” in Alberta makes the province an outlier to the rest of Canada. This change may affect inter-provincial mobility and the job market for engineers in our province, as Alberta is now the sole Canadian jurisdiction without complete protection of the title “engineer.” 

  • APEGA does not have jurisdiction to investigate or determine consequences of any incidences unless the work done was engineering or the individual or company is licensed with APEGA.

  • Software engineering is a nationally and internationally recognized discipline of engineering. There are at least 14 accredited software engineering programs at Canadian universities, including one at the University of Calgary.

    The software engineering field is concerned with the application of engineering processes to the creation, maintenance, and design of software. Two key aspects indicate whether an activity is considered to be software engineering:

    1. It concerns the public interest; and
    2. It requires the application of engineering principles in its development.

    APEGA receives its direction on how to regulate the practices of engineering and geoscience in the province through the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act. Through the Act, APEGA is also legally required to regulate the restricted use of titles and designations.

    Reserving the “software engineer” title for those who perform the work and meet the requirements to use the designation is necessary to maintain the public’s trust in the engineering profession.

  • Regulators across Canada are unified in working towards removing reserved title infractions from the technology industry and have signed a joint letter signifying our intention to do so. Engineers Canada released the signed statement in August this year. The Government of Alberta also has a copy of this statement.
  • There is a national working group looking at this specific issue: the Task Force on Software Engineering. Chaired by a member of the Canadian Engineering Qualifications Board, the task force includes representatives from provincial regulators and other domain experts. The group can also consult engineers practising in different fields to provide expertise on the areas of practice contained in the paper.

    The group is currently providing feedback on the Engineers Canada paper on professional practice in software engineering. The document addresses the nature of engineering practice in software engineering, in comparison with common software development. Section 3 of the document speaks to engineering principles and the software development process.

    You can learn more about the Canadian Engineering Qualifications Board, along with its subcommittees and task forces, on the Engineers Canada website.

  • APEGA receives its direction on how to regulate the practices of engineering and geoscience in the province through the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act. Through the Act, APEGA is also legally required to ensure those using restricted titles or designations are licensed to do so.

    There is, however, an exception: Section 2(4)(f) of the Act states that members of the Canadian Forces can engage in the practice of engineering while actually employed on duty with the Forces. This exemption is what makes the titles of “combat engineer” and “military engineer” possible.

  • There are three key differences to consider when comparing power engineering and software engineering.

    First, software engineering already exists as a distinct discipline of engineering. We do have licensed professional members who are software engineers. One reason we cannot allow those who are not licensed to use the same title is because there would be no way for the public to easily distinguish which software engineer was professionally licensed and which wasn’t.

    Second, power engineers in Alberta are certified through the Alberta Boiler Safety Association. They must meet established safety codes and standards relating to their work, whereas there is no comparable regulation of safety codes and standards for developing software.

    Last, power engineers must meet established testing and qualification requirements to be certified, and there is no indication this type of stringent certification process will be established for individuals and companies that want to use the title “software engineer.”

    For these reasons, power engineering should not be used as a template to create an exemption for software engineering.

Have any questions?

If you'd like to connect with APEGA regarding the regulation of software engineers in Alberta, please visit our Media Room for contact information.

Visit the Media Room

Software Engineering is Regulated Across Canada

Engineers Canada

Engineering regulators reiterate licensure requirements for those using “software engineer” and other IT titles

Engineers Canada and the 12 engineering regulators across Canada have co-signed a statement reiterating that the use of titles such as “software engineer”, “computer engineer”, and similar titles that prefix “engineer” within IT-related disciplines and practices are restricted to those who are licensed as an engineer.

Read the full article on

Engineers Canada

Engineers Canada paper on professional practice in software engineering

Growing public concerns with automated technology, the increased frequency of malicious cybersecurity events, and the rapid pace with which software is becoming integrated into all aspects of daily life are drawing increased attention to requirements to hire engineers to protect the public in these areas. This paper defines key elements of the practice of software engineering and explains the legal requirement, in most Canadian jurisdictions, for this work to be undertaken by engineers. The intended outcome of this paper is to help regulators, practitioners, and the public to be better able to differentiate software engineering from other non-engineering software work.

Read the full article on

Logo for the Government of Canada

Government of Canada Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA)

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems are poised to have a significant impact on the lives of Canadians and the operations of Canadian businesses. In June 2022, the Government of Canada tabled the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA) as part of Bill C-27, the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2022. The AIDA represents an important milestone in implementing the Digital Charter and ensuring that Canadians can trust the digital technologies that they use every day. The design, development, and use of AI systems must be safe, and must respect the values of Canadians.

Read the full article on the Government of Canada website

Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO)

PEO Actively Protects Title Rights

PEO has long recognized that software engineering lies within the definition of engineering under the Professional Engineers Act (PEA), where, since 1999, the field has been recognized as a distinct engineering discipline.

Read more in Engineering Dimensions (Nov/Dec 2022)

Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia (EGBC)

Regulation of Software Engineering in B.C.

In British Columbia, software engineering is a discipline of professional engineering and is regulated by Engineers and Geoscientists BC under the Professional Governance Act. Computer and software engineering have been designated as disciplines of professional engineering since 1988 and 1999, and fall within the definition of professional engineering in the Professional Governance Act. They work across all industries, including aerospace, manufacturing, mining, transportation, telecommunication, finance, government, and education.

Read the full page on

Logo for Ordre des ingenieurs du Québec (Order of Engineers of Québec)

Québec court rules against Microsoft

Microsoft Canada has contravened a provincial professional code by using the word “engineer” in its international software certification program, a Québec court has ruled.

The decision by Judge Claude Millette of the Court of Québec marks the first time in Microsoft’s history it has been penalized for using the term. It also provides a historic, if largely symbolic, victory for professional engineers who have been trying to curtail the word’s use in the context of software development.

Read the full article on

Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO)

Developing Software for Safety Critical Engineering Applications 

Software may pose a risk to the public interest, either directly or indirectly. The development of certain categories of software is considered to fall within the scope of professional engineering in Ontario when the software is used in a manner that affects the public interest. Since the development of safety critical software falls within the practice of professional engineering, only engineers or those supervised by an engineer can develop safety critical software.

Download the practice guideline PDF on

News Coverage on Regulating Software Engineers in Alberta

CBC News logo

November 6, 2023
Alberta government plans to cut down regulation of 'software engineer' title

Read the article on CBC News

The Globe and Mail

November 6, 2023
Alberta moves to legalize use of ‘software engineer’ title, ending lengthy battle between regulators, tech firms

Read the article on the Globe and Mail

Calgary Herald

November 6, 2023
Varcoe: Alberta sides with tech sector, lets it use term 'software engineer' despite opposition

Read the article on the Calgary Herald

Calgary Herald

October 14, 2022 
Varcoe: Trouble over titles — tech sector asks premier to weigh in on spat over software engineers

Read the article on the Calgary Herald

The Globe and Mail

October 14, 2022
Is a ‘software engineer’ an engineer? Alberta regulator says no, riling the province’s tech sector

Read the article on the Globe and Mail

Taproot Edmonton

October 17, 2022
Tech leaders seek easing of rules around ‘software engineer’ designation

Read the article on Taproot Edmonton

APEGA Supports and Champions Licensed Software Engineers

APEGA has a long history of regulating and supporting software engineers. Read some of the recent features we've published on some outstanding APEGA members working in the software field.

Text on background: Regulating the title 'software engineer' benefits us all - our decision today ensures the continued protection of public safety tomorrow

Regulation and the Tech Evolution

The use of the title software engineer versus software developer may to some be a minor inflection point when the singular focus is employee attraction and retention, but the decision impacts something larger: public safety throughout the navigation of rapid technological evolution.

Read the full article

Algorithm for Success

Dr. Mohammad Moshirpour, P.Eng., thinks those learning software engineering should practise using real-life scenarios from their first year of study. He’s providing this opportunity for students through bonafide industry experiences. By creating partnered projects and mutual support in his lab, he hopes to marry the interests of the exploding tech industry in Alberta and the skills of his students.

Read the article

Engineers Make it Possible: Dr. Zainab Syed, P.Eng.

If you have relied on your vehicle’s built-in navigation system to keep from getting lost, you may want to thank Zainab Syed. She helped design the groundbreaking navigation software now found in thousands of new automobiles hitting the road in Canada and around the globe. Using sensors, the software tracks vehicles in places where satellite signals are blocked, like underground parking garages or deep inside mountain tunnels.

Read the feature on How of Wow

Engineer Programs World’s First Commercial Electric Airplane to Take Flight

In celebration of International Civil Aviation Day, APEGA is sharing the story of how one of our professional engineers, Siyu Leng, P.Eng., helped the first commercial electric airplane take flight.

Read the article

Automating the Land 

Dr. Rafiq Ahmad, P.Eng., sees the best in systems. He leverages all the useful parts, sloughs off the useless, generates maximum efficiency. "Farming is one of the least automated industries," he explains. "That's where I see a lot of opportunity." For him, this opportunity comes through creating an aquaponics system for the future. He is the founder and director of the world's first aquaponics learning factory.

Read the article

The Power of a Name

His mother, one of his greatest influences and the catalyst for his move to Calgary from Lagos, Nigeria, always told him, "Make sure you connect with others, because you can't do things alone." Habib Adesola Jinadu, E.I.T., has taken this to heart. "It's a personal goal of mine to try and network and meet different engineers. Attending APEGA's Emerging Professionals Summit was one way I met this goal."

Read the article

Energy Engineer Calculates a Cooler Tomorrow

When Dr. Amit Kumar, P.Eng., began his career as an energy engineer in the 1990s, few people were talking about climate change. That has changed recently in the past few years, and now it seems climate change is top of mind for many.

Read the article

Refining Recycling: A Practical Dream

"Only nine per cent of Canadian plastic is currently recycled, and recycling processes are not very sustainable," Dr. Rafiq Ahmad, P.Eng., explains. "We want to create new, cheaper processes and a bigger impact by combining different technologies. We can do this because we are one of the labs in the world pioneering artificial intelligence and digitization."

Read the article

A Software Engineer and a Nurse Strike the Match of Innovation

Dr. Moshirpour, P.Eng., and Dr. Duffett-Leger, a registered nurse, use their commonalities to produce software to benefit patients, health-care providers, and students. Their latest endeavour, Ignitingale, teams up engineering and nursing students to innovate software solutions for real.

Read the article

Other Canadian Regulators Who Regulate Software Engineers

  • APEGNB-NewBrunswickEngineersandGeoscientists
  • APEGSLogo
  • EngineersGeoscientistsBritishColumbiaEGBC
  • EngineersGeoscientistsManitoba
  • EngineersNovaScotialogo
  • EngineersPEIlogo
  • EngineersYukon
  • NAPEGLogo
  • LogoforOrdredesingenieursduQuébecOrderofEngineersofQuébec
  • ProfessionalEngineersandGeoscientistsNewfoundlandLabradorPEGNL
  • ProfessionalEngineersOntarioPEO

Have any questions?

If you'd like to connect with APEGA regarding the regulation of software engineers in Alberta, please visit our Media Room for contact information.

Visit the Media Room