Why Are Ethics Important for Professional Engineers?

Ethics is an important topic for engineers of every level and field. When you become a professional engineer, however, you are held to a higher standard. That is why one of the requirements for maintaining your professional engineers’ license is to meet a certain number of professional development hours with at least two being in ethics.

As professional engineers, we are trusted with projects that impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The NJSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers is a document that was put together to help us keep that fact in mind and be a guiding factor in making hard decisions during our careers. The code of ethics can be summed up with two key points that we will explore in more depth: safety and honesty.

Safety is Key

The preamble to the NJSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers states that engineers “require honesty, impartiality, fairness, and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.” When it comes to ethics as a professional engineer, it is about so much more than preventing illegal activity. It is about making sure the lives we touch with our work are protected from incompetence and are at the forefront of our minds as we work.

Even the parts of the Code of Ethics for Professional Engineers that deal with honesty and integrity go back to safety issues. The things we help design, build, and maintain could result in a loss of life if we put profits, personal advancement, or anything else in front of people.


Integrity and Honesty

Another important reason to have a code of ethics for professional engineers is it sets a standard for professional behavior. You know you can expect another PE to behave with honesty and integrity since they adhere to the same creed as you. The public can also be assured you are not pulling a fast one or working for your own gain. The standard of professional behavior provides the people who you work with and for a foundation of trust that you are going to operate in the project’s and public’s best interest.

While the code of ethics seems fairly straightforward and clear cut, having courses about it are important for navigating your day-to-day. The professional development classes help guide you through real life cases that have come before the Board of Ethical Review, so you can see the nuances of the code and how it can be used to make better decisions.

We hope this brief overview of why ethics are important for professional engineers has made you eager to learn more. You can read the full code of ethics by visiting the NJSPE’s ethics page or by attending one of NSPE’s ethics webinars. If you would like to see more content about the importance of ethics, please feel free to let us know in the comments below or by filling out our “Ask NJSPE” form.

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Earn Professional Development Hours from Home for Free!

All professional engineers are required to meet a number of professional development hours, with two of those hours being in ethics, to maintain their license. One of the biggest reasons many people join a society for professional engineers is to have access to a wide-range of continuing education opportunities. While full-day classes and multi-day conferences offer a large number of credits, we understand carving time out of your life isn’t always possible. That’s why 15 free webinars are available, all offering professional development hours, via the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Most of these webinars change every year, so they focus on the most current topics in engineering. They are pre-approved for one continuing education credit each, allowing engineers to knock out a large chunk of their credits from their computers! While these courses are anywhere from $25 to $149, they are free if you belong to the National Society for Professional Engineers. This year’s webinars are:

  • 10 Strategies to Motivate, Inspire, and Engage your Team for Results – this course gives tips on motivating and engagement followers, team members, and customers. By the end, you will learn the importance and benefits of working together, how to get more from the people you work with, and how to develop your own strategy for success on your team.
  • Best Practices to Communicate Clearly Through Writing – even in engineering, writing effectively is an extremely vital skill. This course provides an overview of sentence structure, correct grammar, writing for your audience, organization, and how to write clearly and concisely.
  • Closing the Soft Skills Gap in Engineering Practice Webinar – learning objectives in this course include learning the history of the soft skills gap in engineering, defining important soft skills keywords, reviewing the Engineering Competency Model, and identifying how to develop soft skills.
  • Critically Thinking for Engineers – engineers use critical thinking every day. This webinar helps identify complex problems, effectively utilize inspection and questioning, control bias, and leverage these skills across your entire team to solve problems.
  • Engineering Ethics: Objectivity and Truthfulnessthis webinar offers ethics credits. It highlights several Board of Ethical Review Cases, including previously encountered site conditions; reassignment to another job; public health, safety, and welfare; and confidentiality.
  • Ethics and Engineering – here’s another one that offers ethics credits. This course explains why ethics are so important to engineering, how to deeply understand ethics, and discusses several Board of Ethical Review cases.
  • Going Digital: Digital Signatures and Digital Document Delivery – we are well into the digital age, so papers are no longer being signed and being replaced with documents signed digitally on the computer. This webinar explains the legalities of digital signatures, the pros and cons of them, and identifies best practices.
  • Growing Into a Strategic Role within Your Company – you can always add new value to your firm, and it will benefit you if you do. This course explains how to think and work strategically, teaches how to communicate in a way that executes ideas and strategy, develops plans for career development, and identifies strategic drivers.
  • How to Develop the Engineering Leader Inside of You – don’t just be an engineer; be a leader. Learn how to create a leadership mindset, define the characteristics of a leader, delegate tasks efficiently, and understand the important of trust and respect.
  • Introduction to MicroGrids for Commercial and Humanitarian Needs – In this course, you will learn what a microgrid is, how it differs from the grid, the factors driving the microgrid market, how they are controlled, and how it is applied in developing countries.
  • Engineering Ethics: Signing and Sealing of Documents – this course also offers ethics credits. Signing and sealing documents is a perk of being a professional engineer. Review several Board of Ethical Review cases, including fire sprinkler layout drawings, conflicts of interest, driverless vehicles, and doing a favor for a public official.
  • Licensure Under Attack – the professional engineering license is always under attack. That’s why advocacy is a huge reason for joining a society for professional engineers. Learn about protecting the license.
  • New Approach to Engineering Marketing: How to Future-Proof Your Firm – marketing is more than just mailing flyers. Learn about the trends and expectations of potential buyers, where engineers are investing marketing money, and the role research will play in future growth.
  • Engineering Ethics: Public Health, Safety, and Welfare Another ethics course. This webinar reviews Board of Ethical Review cases, such as water testing equipment, receiving submissions past deadlines, omitting address on advertising, and leveraging expert witness testimony.
  • Self-Driving Cars: An Examination of Ethical Issues at the Micro and Macro Scale – this is an engineering hot topic. Autonomous vehicles are very close to hitting the highways. This webinar explains how driverless cars will change our roads and how to effectively create systems that are safe for the public.

We don’t know why you’re still here! Log into your membership account and get started taking one of these webinars to earn continuing education credits now. If you have any questions regarding engineering license requirements or any of these webinars, let us know at info@njspe.org.

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