Registration With The Engineering Council Of South Africa (ECSA).                               (2015)

Hints and Tips

(The information contained herein reflects the Chambers opinion and is offered as an aid in the interests of promoting the engineering profession. Some of ECSA requirements are subject to review and the requirements and method of assessment has changed dramtically. While the changes are significant the process is more transparent).

The following information should still assist applicants  as the fundamentals of the required information as well as the assessment criteria have a lot in common. The information supplied here is not official ECSA policy or approved by ECSA. The Chamber’s disclaimer applies to any use of this information.

Unfortunately  we cannot at this time reproduce the completed ECSA forms showing an example. ECSA is able to provide you with the newly used forms and a guideline as to completing them. All submissions to ECSA have to be done electronically.

In the new forms a series of questions have to be answered. 

The information below should still assist the applicant in correctly interpreting the questions and guiding the correct sort of answers that are required.

 Background Information.

The following graphic is an over simplified illustration of the four different cadres of engineering.



T    K               Engineer

H    N

E    O                           Technologist

O   W

R    L                                                   Technician

E    E

T    D                                                                           Artisan

I     G

C    E



-------------------------------------PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE----------------------------à


Please note that this generic two-dimensional graphic is oversimplified otherwise the illustration would be too complex to present. In reality there are many axis of different criteria to the real picture. In some cases there may also be a degree of overlapping in areas of expertise. There may also be some grey areas and gaps between areas.

 There are of course many branches of engineering but the main disciplines are Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Mining and Metallurgy and Chemical. There are many sub disciplines or sub branches under each type. As an example under Electrical there are at least, Heavy Current, Light Current, Electronics, Communications, Computers etc.

 Categories of Registration.

There are four (4) main categories of registered engineering persons in South Africa. They are:

1.         Professional Engineer.

2.         Professional Certificated Engineer.

3.         Professional Engineering Technologist

4.         Professional Engineering Technician

 Benchmark Engineering Qualification for Registration.

The Professional Engineer has to prove that he has obtained at least a four (4) year University engineering degree ((BSc) in an ECSA accredited University degree programme plus three years of post graduate high level engineering experience and responsibility.

 The Professional Certificated Engineer has to prove that he has obtained at least a National N Diploma (N6 level) from a recognised South African Technical College plus extra subjects such as Plant Engineering etc. leading to the awarding of the Government Certificate of Competency plus at least three years of appropriate post certificate experience before acceptance for registration. The requirements for registration in this category are currently being reviewed and may change soon.

 The Professional Engineering Technologist has to prove that he has at least obtained a four (4) year Bachelor of Technology (B Tech) in an ECSA accredited degree programme offered by Universities of Technology in South Africa together with three years of acceptable experience of which at least one is in a position of engineering responsibility.

 The Professional Engineering Technician has to prove that he has at least obtained a three (3) year National Diploma (S4 level) in an ECSA accredited diploma programme together with three years of acceptable post diploma approved training and experience as well as at least one year of acceptable engineering responsibility.

 The old category of Registered Engineering Technician has been closed and no new registrations in this category will be accepted.

 A further sub category of the Engineering Technician that of Specified Scope was introduced by ECSA to provide for persons who are engaged in a specific occupation which requires compulsory registration (by law) but who are not fully qualified and or experienced enough for registration in one of the four main categories. At present there are two such categories namely “Lift Inspector” and Lifting Machinery Inspector. See ECSA Website for updates on the categories ( These are now autonomous categories of registration under the provisions of the Engineering Professions Act 2000 under Specified Categories. Others in fields, which are concerned with public health and safety, may follow in the future.

 At present persons to be registered in the “Specified Categories” have to provide appropriate documented proof of qualifications and experience (scope, depth and duration) in the relevant specific occupation / field of engineering and thus prove that they are functioning at the level correct level. It is possible that such persons may have or be required to have a greater depth of specific knowledge than the normally registered Technician. However, such persons are not required to have the breadth of knowledge and variety of experience of the Professional Engineering Technician.


Persons applying for registration in the Specified Categories may have come from the Artisan route and may be required to attend specified courses and pass examinations relevant thereto in order to be considered for registration. These will usually be applicable where public health and safety is involved and definitely where compulsory registration is required. ECSA can supply the specific requirements for these categories, as they are not dealt with here.

 Artisan / Craftsman. This category is not currently able to register with ECSA.

An Artisan has to prove the successful completion of:

·      a legally recognised apprenticeship or learnership

·      prescribed practical training

·      prescribed qualifications of N2 or higher by a Technical College

·      a trade test

 Job Availability.

The country’s requirements and thus the probable numbers of jobs available are in the following order of priority:



#        #

#              #

#   Engineer    #

#       Technologist   #

#           Technician          #

#              Artisan                   #


In other words there may well be more Artisan jobs available than for Engineers.

 General Descriptions of Engineering Professionals.


Professional Engineer

Professional Engineering Technologist

Professional Engineering Technician

Will practice in complex engineering activities, which may include design, planning, investigation, research, engineering operations & processes, project management and more. The boundaries of practice are complex and change over time.

Complex engineering problems are characterised by fundamental and specialist underpinning knowledge, complex systems needing identification & refinement & may be abstract requiring, research, analysis and unique solutions.

This requires broad & in depth knowledge from fundamentals, first principles analytical approaches, often requiring complex calculations, knowledge of engineering, legal, contract & other laws & knowledge of interacting disciplines.

Accepting engineering responsibility for designs and overall work done.

Will practice in broadly defined engineering activities, which may include design, planning, investigation & problem resolution, engineering operations, manufacturing, project management, commercialisation and more. The boundaries of practice are linked to technologies used & change by adoption of new technologies.

Broadly defined engineering problems are characterised by underpinning knowledge & skills, may be of systems requiring identification & interpretation into practice. can be solved by structured analysis techniques. Problems may be partially outside standards and codes.
This requires specialist in depth knowledge of fundamentals, analytical approaches, calculations, knowledge of engineering, legal, contract & other practice area laws. Accepting engineering responsibility within broad parameters for work done.

Will practice in well defined engineering activities, which may include contributing to design and modification, planning, investigation, fault finding & maintenance, engineering operations, manufacturing, project management commercialisation & more. The boundaries of practice are defined by established techniques applied and adopting new techniques developed. Improvements are often referred to engineers / technologists stakeholders for final approval.

Well-defined engineering problems are characterised by being discrete, focussed, routine but may be unfamiliar require clarification. Problems can be solved in standardised or prescribed ways by use of standards, codes & documented procedures. They may be frequently encountered.

This requires defined knowledge of some fundamentals, analytical approach within the area of expertise, defined calculations using established formulas & standards, applicable laws, regulations & codes. Accepting engineering responsibility for the work done by the technician.





The following old generic description of a Professional Engineering Technician is included as it reinforces and adds information to the general descriptions given above.

 The knowledge and skills are typically acquired through an ECSA accredited Higher Education (tertiary) programme in engineering. This qualification is currently a National Diploma. In addition, on registration, the candidate will typically have demonstrated at least three (3) years of acceptable level of post diploma work and professional development. Theoretical content of the programme includes underpinning mathematics, science, core engineering subjects (modules), computer application, communication and branch specific (engineering) subjects. The Programme comprises a balanced integration between theory, laboratory, project and practical activities. Cross-field outcomes include environmental, social, management, economical and entrepreneurial skills.

 Autonomy and competence enable evaluation, consultation, implementation and taking professional responsibility for work.

This work includes the implementation of known and novel technology in a specific discipline, sub-discipline or a combination of disciplines, in an innovative manner, drawing on a broad base of expertise.

The candidate performs a variety of functions, including but not limited to:

Design, draughting, installation, calibration, commissioning

Operational management, maintenance, modification, development

Monitoring, manufacturing, economics, management of resources

(The number and the ratio of these functions practiced are determined by the discipline and the work environment.)

 Problems and scope of work are generally defined.

Usually operates within standards, codes and procedures.

Understands fundamental principles and underlying techniques. Is competent to do calculations using mathematical formulas.

 Through understanding of the equipment and processes used contributes to technical, financial, managerial and legal aspects of teams/projects.

 Applies legislation, demonstrates quality management and technical skills, supervises and co-ordinates work.

 May work as a team member, team leader or independently.

Seeks assistance as required, and judges when to refer problems to relevant persons.

Results of work are evaluated by the incumbent, supervisor and/or client.

Communicates effectively. Facilitates education, training and development. Mentors and coaches sub-ordinates.

 Partakes in continuous professional development.

 Alternate Routes To Registration as a Professional Engineering Technician.

While the benchmark requirement for a registered engineering technician is the National Diploma plus 3 years of acceptable post diploma experience, candidates with other qualifications may be accredited if the candidate can prove that the candidates theoretical and practical knowledge, experience and responsibilities have been at a similar acceptable level to the bench mark criteria for an extended period.

 The alternate route period of acceptable experience is longer than the benchmark route. This is to allow time for on the job learning, which may also be, unstructured and development of both theoretical and practical knowledge. No alternate route is a short cut to the benchmark route.  For example the National Diploma (3 years) plus 3 years post diploma experience totals 6 years of post Matric development.

With only a Matric a number of years of development and experience are required which totals at least 9 years post Matric development. This is shown in the table below.


Name of Qualification

Qualification Abbreviation



 Required Years of Post National Diploma Level Experience

Minimum Required Years of Engineering

Responsibility at Technician Level.

National Diploma

(This is the benchmark level)


6XT1+6XT2+6XT3/S1 to S4



Bachelor Degree in Technology

B Tech

ND plus B Tech subjects



Masters Diploma in Technology / National Diploma in Technology

MDT / N Dip Tech

As prescribed



National Higher Certificate for Technicians





National Certificate for Technicians, National N Diploma, National Technical Diploma


4XT1+4XT2+4XT3, 4XN4+4XN5+4XN6



T2 Certificate, T2 Certificate (Diploma direction)


4XT1+4XT2, 6XT1+6XT2



Intermediate Diploma for Technicians, National Technical Diploma, National Engineering Diploma


64XT1+6XT2, 4XN4+4XN5+4XN6



National Technical Certificate Part 5, National Technical Certificate Part 6

N5, N6

3XN4+3XN5, 3XN4+3XN5+3XN6



Advance Technical Certificate 2 / NTC 5, National Technical Certificate Part 4


3XN4+3XN5, 3XN4



T1 (Certificate direction), T1 (Diploma direction)


4XT1, 6XT1



No Tertiary qualification +N3 Advanced Technical Certificate 1

N3, ATC1 / NTC 4





  Kindly note that the above is the Chambers interpretation of ECSA’s rules and may not be 100% correct and is only offered as a guide with no guarantees.

Also note that ECSA is reviewing the requirements and these may all change in the near future.

 The professional engineering technician is expected to be a mature knowledgeable and experienced practitioner. The candidate is expected to have a broad range of theoretical / academic knowledge of engineering principles etc. before any specialisation may take place. A candidate with only a narrow specialisation expertise would probably not be successful if moved to a different type of work within his discipline because he lacks the required foundation of knowledge of the discipline.

 With the above information in mind and using the ECSA Policy R1/1 document as a guideline our evaluation Matrix for technicians was developed. This can be used to evaluate yourself but you have to attempt to be impartial and very strict to obtain a useful answer. The answers can often be used to identify weak areas, which then can be improved.


Please scroll down for the next page.
Evaluation Matrix for Professional Engineering Technician.


Qualification Expected



Nat Tech Dip

Nat Dip

Nat High Dip

B Tech

Approx. Notational Hours



1080 / 1440


2560 / 2900


Qualification Obtained








(The words listed are only a guide and not the only ones that are used)

Nil, Never,

No Proof Given, Non Complex, Simple

 Very Low, Seldom, Limited, Basic

Low, Occasionally, Routine, Slightly Complex. 

Average, Complex Satisfactory, Often

High, Very Often, Above Average, Very Complex

Very High, Very Often, Highly Complex, Outstand


Post Qualification Training (Formal)







On Going Courses (In house, informal)







Design, Initiates Modifications














Research & Development







Installation / Construction














Measurement & Testing







Production / Manufacturing







Maintenance / Repair







Planning (Engineering)







Engineering Quality Assurance







Communication / Report Writing







Projects & Project  Management







Engineering Responsibility

Min 1 year high level

Min 1 year high level

Min 1 year high level

Min 1 year high level

Min 1 year high level

Min 1 year high level

Managerial Responsibility, Budgets etc







Analytical Ability







Expected Duration of Technician Level Experience

Min of 7,5 years post Certificate

Min of 7 years post Certificate

Min of 6 years post Diploma

Min of 3 years post Diploma

Min of 3 years post Nat Dip

Min of 3 years post Nat Diploma

Assessed Duration of Technician Level








 The above is a generic table and while it is accepted that not all technician candidates will have experience in each and every area, it is expected that they should be able to prove adequate experience at National Diploma level (the vertical shaded column) in at least 60% of the items listed.


 Technologists are expected to score in approx 80%  of the items in the vertical column marked B Tech and the years of expereince required are much greater.

Notes on Completion of Application Forms.


The Summary of the Project report requested should follow the format sugested by ECSA and not be more than 2 to 3 pages in length. It must highlight your engineering contribution and not be pages of general information about the project that, while intersting, does not show what your engineering and responsiblity was. 

1. Some applicants do not appear to read the information brochure supplied by the Engineering Council of South Africa and fail to supply the required information. Often insufficient engineering details of experience are given. General or vague references to “we” and not spelling out what the applicant did and was responsible for is a common fault. System descriptions are not useful unless the appliacnt indicates what part he does and what he is responsible for.

Documentary proof of claims made is essential. Referee reports form only a part of the documentary proof that must be submitted to back claims made. It is important that the information you supply is relevant and structured in such a way that it is easy to find. Some form of summary and index to the submission can only assist the assessors.

 2. Lists of equipment that the applicant has worked on or with are meaningless unless some details and examples are given of what these did and what the candidate achieved using them. Lists indicating the monetary value of projects and jobs are meaningless unless they indicate the applicants engineering scope and the candidate’s responsibility. Financial responsibility is not necessarily engineering responsibility.


3. Descriptions of experience that do not answer the questions or use the headings listed in the information brochure supplied with the forms are common errors. Information is easier to obtain from a correctly structured application. Communication is one of the criteria judged. Assessors must be able to easily find the information required.


4. Other common errors are not supplying responsibility diagrams, not indicating clearly the applicant’s position on such diagrams, and not indicating the duration’s of positions held with dates.


5. Another error is expecting the Council to accept all post-academic qualification and experience as relevant. Most applicants pass through at the following stages of development;

A. University of Technology Student

B. Technician / Technologist in Training

C. Artisan - level work (may form part of training period)

D. Technician level work (without acceptable engineering responsibility)

E. Technician level work (some engineering responsibility)

F. Full Technician level work for accepted minimum duration (Registerable)

F. Technologist level work (without full engineering responsibility)

G. Technologist level work (with full engineering responsibility)

F. Full Technologist level work for accepted minimum duration (Registerable)


Not all post-qualification experience may be acceptable to the Council, since a transition period occurs from phase to phase. It is thus most important to indicate the starting dates for each of the phases.


6. The applicant should remember that the Council does not know the applicant personally or his job functions intimately. The Council thus depends on the applicant to supply full and relevant information in a structured manner to enable them to reach an informed decision. An index or reference table may assist the assessors find the information. Official job descriptions do not assist; the assessors want you to detail what you actually do and what you personally take full responsibility for. Supplying reams of paperwork that is not essential or useful to the assessors is not helpful. The applicant should adopt the mindset of putting themselves into the Councils shoes and then provide the information and ensure that the assessors can find it easily. The most recent years of experience should be highlighted. Pages of early training should be limited. The file should be such that the assessors do not have to spend hours reading the material.


7. If the Council does not register the candidate, one or more of the following reasons are very commonly the cause.

A. Academic and / or engineering qualification not recognised

B. No proof of ongoing or specific training courses.

C. Course content and level not specified. No proof of exams or tested results

D. No proof offered. No supporting documentation.

E. Experience not of the required nature (non-engineering)

F. Experience not at the required level

G. Insufficient level of responsible engineering experience

H. Insufficient duration of engineering experience

I. Insufficient detail supplied.

J. Insufficient detail of dates of positions held

K. Report poorly structured. Difficult to extract required information

L. Variety of tasks limited. Specialisation without broad engineering foundation


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