Technicians, Repairmen and Engineers

A bugbear of mine is on the use of the word engineer.  An engineer is a high level occupation requiring a high degree of intelligence.  Engineers design things.  They may, on occasion, get their hands dirty, but on the whole it’s a white collar job, requiring a degree level education or equivalent life experience.

Unfortunately it’s a much misused term.  Companies using the term "Service Engineer" to describe a person who is essentially not an engineer, conflate the two terms, and many people confuse the role of technician and engineer.  Not that being a repairman is not a solid and worthwhile job, but being a proper engineer is so much more than that. 

In countries other than the UK, Engineers are well respected, and perhaps this is a linguistic thing because they aren’t confused with repair technicians.  So what can be done.  You can’t explain how offensive the mixing up of the two roles is because real engineering has a bad enough image as it is, and people don’t like having their deficiencies shown up, however much they deserve it.  Letting the repair people have the word Engineer and inventing a new term for the other role?  Perhaps.  Certainly, it doesn’t do the relationship between the two professions any good to have the two confused.


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