What is the difference between an engineer and a specialist engineer?


A career in engineering can be both rewarding and challenging. If you’re interested in this field, you may be wondering what the difference is between an engineering specialist and an engineer. In this article, we compare and contrast these two positions, and we provide information on what you can expect from each role.

What is an Engineer?

Engineers are responsible for designing, developing and supervising the construction of various products, systems and structures. They use their knowledge of mathematics, science and technology to find the most efficient and effective ways to complete projects. Engineers work in a variety of industries, including the aerospace, automotive, chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical and petroleum industries. They typically specialize in a particular field, such as civil engineering or fire engineering. Engineers typically work in office settings, but they may also travel to job sites to oversee the construction or implementation of their designs.

What is an Engineering Specialist?

Engineering Specialists are responsible for providing engineering and technical support for a variety of projects. They work with engineers to develop designs, test prototypes and oversee the process. Engineering Specialists also write technical reports, performance solutions reports and documentation, and they most likely be responsible for training other colleagues and market stakeholder. In some cases, Engineering Specialists may also be responsible for managing projects or teams of engineers. Engineering Specialists typically have 20 years experience in a specific sector. In accordance to NCC, this may also be referred as Subject Matter Expert (SME).

Engineering Specialist vs. Engineer

Here are the main differences between an engineering specialist and an engineer.

Job Duties

Engineering specialists and engineers share some job duties, such as creating plans, evaluating options, researching topics and designing systems. Engineering professionals typically have broader responsibilities that include overseeing projects from start to finish. They may monitor projects to ensure deadlines are met and standards are upheld. In addition, engineers often provide support to other employees by answering questions and providing guidance.

Engineering specialists often focus on a specific segment, such as designing a seismic ceiling systems, value engineering, developing specific solutions that has never been done before. For example, an engineering specialist may work at a company to design a new type of aircraft. Their job is to innovate and improve the aircraft, including its specifications, materials and requirements.

Job Requirements

The job requirements for an engineering specialist and engineer are very similar. Both positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Additionally, both positions may require licensure, though it is not always necessary. In Australia, different states have their own licensure requirements, but the most common license is the Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) license offered by the Engineers Australia or RPEng by Professional Australia. To earn this license, engineers must pass exams and interviews, covering general engineering topics and one specific to their chosen field of practice.

Work Environment

Engineers often spend most of their time working on projects. They may also travel to construction sites to oversee projects and provide technical support.

Engineering specialists and engineers work in different environments. Engineering specialists typically work in offices, laboratories, where they may use various software, data to develop solutions. They often carry out their own tests to ensure certain components are working well, comparing with the finite element analysis they have created.


Both engineering specialists and engineers use problem-solving skills in their jobs. For engineering specialists, they typically work on a team of engineers to provide support and solve problems that come up during the engineering process. This can involve anything from conducting research to testing prototypes. For engineers, they are responsible for designing products or systems that will solve a problem or address a need facing individuals, families and business owners.

Both engineering specialists and engineers need technical skills to perform their job, including circuit design, advanced mathematics, linear systems and analysis and electrical schematics. However, engineers typically have more responsibility when it comes to using these skills as they are responsible for designing products or systems. Engineering specialists usually provide support to engineers by conducting research or testing prototypes.

While an engineer uses communication skills when they are creating reports of their research, corresponding with other engineers and colleagues and developing blueprints for their products, they are not necessarily going to be interacting with customers directly. An engineering specialist requires interpersonal skills because they will most likely be working with a team of engineers, architects, certifiers, regulated bodies and need to be able to effectively communicate with them.