Reply to post: Its a uniquely American weakness -- or is it?

When is an electrical engineer not an engineer? When Arizona's state regulators decide to play word games

martinusher Silver badge

Its a uniquely American weakness -- or is it?

In many ways we're still stuck in the 19th century. People build crap, it falls down so along comes the state or federal lawmakers who try to fix the situation using blanket legislation and a licensing regime to regulate things. Fine, if you're a structural engineer where you have to sign off on designs that could cause a disaster if they fail but not that relevant for day to day work. The problem is that once you've got yourself an entrenched profession and associated bureaucracy they will defend their position against any kind of change, no matter how sensible or necessary.

You have similar situations in the UK. I gather that any electrical work, no matter how trivial, has to be signed off by a licensed electrician. A sensible safety precaution? Possibly. But the reality is that it generates a licensed monopoly with legal enforcement -- there's no incentive to spread knowledge because it provides good eating for a relatively small group of people plus assorted bureaucrats. (Its really an extension of the industrial practice when I first started working; it was before IEC connectors became universal so equipment had cables with plugs on the end. As an "engineer" you were allowed to build everything, no matter how complex, but you had to wait for a union electrician to put a plug on it. Or Else. This eventually gave rise to a very handy product called a Keynector that enabled us to get some work done.)

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