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Thread: Qualificat​ions to work as a civil/structural engineer in New Zealand (???)

  1. #1
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    Default Qualificat​ions to work as a civil/structural engineer in New Zealand (???)

    I've been searching for this subject but i'm still not clarified, so I was wondering if there's any engineer (or anyone) around here who could help me with this ...

    First, I have a (5 years) degree in civil engineering from a portuguese university and I have 13 years working experience. My professional instituition here in Portugal is a membership of FEANI (http://www.feani.org/site/?id=75).

    As far as i know, to work as an engineer in NZ i need to have a degree recognized by the Washington Accord (or Sidney/Dublin). Well, i looked at the International Engineering Alliance (IEA) website (http://www.washingtonaccord.org/) and Portugal is not included in those accords, but FEANI is an IEA associated http://www.washingtonaccord.org/GEO.cfm, so I think that, indirectly, my qualifications may have some sort of recognition by official entities in New Zealand.

    I contacted IPENZ (http://www.ipenz.org.nz/ipenz/) recently and they told me that i would be eligible to apply for Graduate Membership at this time, irrespective of how many years overseas engineering experience I have. They also told me that I would not be eligible to apply for a competence based class of membership (such as Professional Membership and associated register CPEng (NZ))until I have been working in New Zealand for some time and had become knowledgeable of the NZ engineering standards and codes of practice and in particular gained local knowledge.

    They explained me that by taking up membership it would mean that they have recognised my engineering qualifications and the difference between Graduate Membership and Professional Membership is that ones engineering qualification gains one Graduate Membership and in order to obtain Professional Membership (which is a competence based class of membership) I would need to go through a formal assessment process and also have a knowledge assessment.

    I got a bit confused with this explanation.

    To apply for a Professional Membership, i need to previously work for some time in NZ ... but, can i work in that time as a civil engineer without the Professional Membership? If so, why should I need to apply for Professional Membership? If not, how can i practice and gain local knowledge.

    They also told me that if my engineering qualifications have been assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) I should forward a certified photocopy of my NZQA assessment.

    Another confusion to me: my qualifications have to be recognized / assessed by two different entities in New Zealand (IPENZ n NZQA) ???

    Can anybody explain me (in a simple way) how does these things work? :/

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Hello Rui,

    based on my personal experience and knowledge at first very brief answers and than some text:

    Quote Originally Posted by Rui View Post
    As far as i know, to work as an engineer in NZ i need to have a degree recognized by the Washington Accord (or Sidney/Dublin).
    Nope



    Quote Originally Posted by Rui View Post
    Portugal is not included in those accords, but FEANI is an IEA associated http://www.washingtonaccord.org/GEO.cfm, so I think that, indirectly, my qualifications may have some sort of recognition by official entities in New Zealand.
    Not, that I'm aware of



    Quote Originally Posted by Rui View Post
    I contacted IPENZ (http://www.ipenz.org.nz/ipenz/) recently and they told me that i would be eligible to apply for Graduate Membership at this time, irrespective of how many years overseas engineering experience I have.
    Yep



    Quote Originally Posted by Rui View Post
    They also told me that I would not be eligible to apply for a competence based class of membership (such as Professional Membership and associated register CPEng (NZ))until I have been working in New Zealand for some time and had become knowledgeable of the NZ engineering standards and codes of practice and in particular gained local knowledge.
    Yep



    Quote Originally Posted by Rui View Post
    They explained me that by taking up membership it would mean that they have recognised my engineering qualifications and the difference between Graduate Membership and Professional Membership is that ones engineering qualification gains one Graduate Membership and in order to obtain Professional Membership (which is a competence based class of membership) I would need to go through a formal assessment process and also have a knowledge assessment.
    Yep



    Quote Originally Posted by Rui View Post
    To apply for a Professional Membership, i need to previously work for some time in NZ ...
    Yep



    Quote Originally Posted by Rui View Post
    can i work ... as a civil engineer without the Professional Membership?
    Yep



    Quote Originally Posted by Rui View Post
    Another confusion to me: my qualifications have to be recognized / assessed by two different entities in New Zealand (IPENZ n NZQA) ???
    Generally, yes




    You can work here in NZ as civil engineer without being a member of IPENZ at all; GIPENZ, MIPENZ or anything else. The membership also does not necessarily further your job chances.

    This is different to being a CPEng as this is something that is necessary to have in certain official roles; related to local authorities. This is being administered by IPENZ but there are CPEngs who are not members of IPENZ.


    NZQA is acting on behalf of INZ and this is 'entirely' different. My personal situation was somewhat different so I had not to deal with NZQA but only dealt with INZ and some other documentation.

  3. #3
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    Hi Rui,

    I am in a similar situation (Civil/Structural Engineer with 12 years of experience - 5 year degree from a Greek University, also non Washington Accord accredited).
    I have been searching for available opportunities in NZ for quite a long time and I had the exact same confusion. Searching through IPENZ and NZQA web site and forums such as this one, I have, or at least I think, clarified a lot of things.
    As ralf-nz said it is not essential for an Engineer to be Chartered, meaning that you are still eligible to work, although if you are Chartered the posibilities for you to secure a job increase dramatically.
    About the NZQA and IPENZ involvement in your qualifications assesment, after some research I came up with this conclusion:
    You first have to have your qualifications assessed by NZQA and then apply for IPENZ either Graduate or full membership (I believe Graduate in both yours and my case).
    Note that NZQA is a paid service and offers 2 types of assessments:
    1) Pre Assessment, which is the simplest and cheapest one, but I believe it is not the one IPENZ is looking for. Through this procedure you simply fill an online application form without providing any evidence and they compare your degree to the NZ equivalent.
    2) Full Assessment, which is quite expensive but pretty accurate, as you provide full evidence such as certified copies of your degree and evidence of your working experience.

    So once you have your degree assessed by NZQA you forward the result to IPENZ and they begin the procedure for membership.
    Now in order to obtain full membership you have to have NZ working experience. There are some exclusions (e.g you are a member of Engineers Australia, or a UK Chartered Engineer).
    In the IPENZ web site they say that an engineer with overseas experience and degree will need about 18 months of NZ working experience before being ready to apply for full membership. Another advantage of first gaining working experience within NZ is that probably you won't need an IELTS test.

    By the way did you have any luck in your job hunting?
    I' ve been searching for a job since September, had a couple of interviews but no further luck. It seems that despite the fact that there is a shortage in Structural Engineers, consultancies hardly consider overseas applicants.

    I hope I helped, but please note that I am not yet in NZ so my information might not be that accurate; maybe other more experienced forum members would be more helpfull.

    Regards
    Zach

  4. #4
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    Zach, I would like to send you a PM but this is only possible after you have made five posts.

  5. #5
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    No problem Ralf, I think I am going to be ready to be PMed today

  6. #6
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    You can put up posts with no meaning, even just one word at a time, to raise your total to the necessary five. Go ahead!

  7. #7
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    Thanks for that JandM, just one more to go

  8. #8
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    This is my fifth post, ready to be PMed

  9. #9
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    Thanks for your replies

    I don't want to leave my actual job and have unnecessary coasts with assesments and all the emigration process, and then get to a point where I can not go any further, for some reason.

    Please tell me, in your oppinion, if this 10-step procedure is appropriate:

    1st - Find an employer willing to hire me (so I can get some points for the emigration process)
    2nd - Get my qualifications assessed by NZQA (so I can see my qualifications matched with the essential skills in demand lists, and get some more points for the emigration process)
    3rd - Start my emigration process, and hope to be successful
    4th - Find a place to live, school for the kids, etc, in NZ
    5th - Leave my actual job
    6th - Move to NZ
    7th - Sign contract with my employer (if he's still interested in it after all that time); and apply for graduate membership @ IPENZ
    9th - After 18 month working, apply for professional membership @ IPENZ
    10th - Live, work and be happy in NZ for several years

    Other thing ... as Zach said, i understand that is hard for an employer to consider overseas applicants. Do you think that there's any chance for an employer to accept an cooperation with an overseas engineer, while the emigration process runs? I mean, to make structural analysis, measuring, etc ... there is no imperative need for a presencial cooperation. I don't know how much teleworking is used in NZ :x

    Btw, Zach there will happen a job opportunities expo in Europe, next month. It's a possible way to get in touch with the employers ... it will not happen in Portugal or Greece, but at least it will be closer then NZ.

  10. #10
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    In my honest opinion I don't think that the 10 step procedure you described can work out; what I mean is that you have to find an employer who is patient enough to wait for you to complete the whole immigration process, which would probably take months. Given the fact that the high demand in Structural Engineers is an outcome of the Christchurh Rebuild Project which is not progressing as expected and the fact that it is expected to accelerate sometime in 2013, potential employers would need you ASAP. Also and in regards of you working from home, while your imigation process is running, I don't think it is realistic. Just put yourself in their shoes; would you agree to work with someone whom you have never met, he is in the other side of the world whilst he is not familiar with the NZ building code? (there are just too many unknown factors in the above equation). Don't want to discourage you, these are just some thoughts from someone who is in the exact same situation. Maybe there are other forum members with different opinions or experiences
    But there is a workaround (at least I think so).
    Why don't you go for a temporary work visa once you have a job offer; this way you have a job offer, then have your qualifications assessed by NZQA and finally apply for the temporary work visa, which is fairly quick (I' ve read in this and also in other forums that there are people who managed to get their work visa in a week but to be on the safe side I believe that it will take about 2-3 months, including all paperwork, medicals etch). So the above could be stage 1,2,3,5,7 and 6 of your process. Note that by holding a Work Visa you are eligible to sponsor your family. There are of course some disadvantages with the work visa, for example you can only work for the employer you signed the contract with and you have to reapply before your visa expires, but you can always apply for PR whilst you are on a working visa.
    Now about finding a place to live before moving to NZ, I believe that your actual presence in NZ is mandatory for you to find a decent place to live. My plan, if I ever find work in NZ, is to first go by myself settle and after 2-3 months my family (wife and 2 kids) will follow.
    Job opportunities expo is indeed a good chance to meet employers and I will definitely think about it.

    Regards
    Zach

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