Did You Know?
Some frequent questions that we receive deserve longer answers, and connections to more information.
What are the education requirements for INCOSE Certification?
Most systems engineers have a bachelor’s degree in a technical field, like electrical engineering, computer science, physics, or biology. The traditional path for a systems engineer was to earn a technical bachelor’s degree then immediately start working in a job directly related to the degree. INCOSE’s Certification Program recognizes, however, that not all systems engineers follow this path. Maybe you were enlisted in the military, gained experience, and then got your degree. Maybe you started off with a business degree then evolved into a more technical role. Or, maybe you started in the mail room, became a technician then a technical lead, and were eventually promoted to chief systems engineer without ever earning a four-year degree. The paths without a technical degree typically take longer to develop competency as a systems engineer, and that is recognized in the INCOSE Certification Program’s degree requirements.
The knowledge level for INCOSE Certification, Associate Systems Engineering Professional (ASEP), has no education requirement. At the mid-level and senior-level, the Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) and Expert Systems Engineering Professional (ESEP) experience requirements of five and twenty-five years, respectively, are based around the expectation of a qualifying degree – a bachelor’s or higher-level degree in engineering or hard sciences, as listed on the INCOSE website’s Certification section. Degrees not listed may qualify if the coursework was sufficiently technical; candidates who wish to submit their transcript of courses may have that evaluated to determine if their degree qualifies. Candidates who have a bachelor’s or higher degree outside those qualifying fields are required to submit an additional five years of engineering experience to get certified. Candidates with no bachelor’s or equivalent degrees should submit an additional ten years of engineering experience.
Given the explanation above, a candidate with a (non-qualifying) business degree could submit five years of mechanical engineering experience plus five years of systems engineering experience to become a CSEP. The ESEP candidate with no qualifying degree would submit twenty-five years of systems engineering plus an additional ten years of engineering experience, which could be more systems engineering experience or could be another engineering discipline.
Why become an ASEP if already working? Isn't it just for college students?
An INCOSE Associate Systems Engineering Professional (ASEP) has been verified to have knowledge of systems engineering as captured in the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook. He or she may have passed a multiple-choice test on the INCOSE handbook or may have demonstrated knowledge through classroom activities, as part of a course or set of courses recognized by the INCOSE Certification Program to cover the same learning objectives as that test. In all cases, an ASEP can be said to “speak the language” of systems engineering, whether he or she has experience applying the principles or not.
Certification at the ASEP level is useful for anyone who wishes to demonstrate their understanding and ability to communicate using the basic terminology of systems engineering. When two people come together for work, and they both have INCOSE certifications, they can start with a common understanding of the INCOSE handbook and then can discuss their different perspectives from that initial baseline. It is more efficient than if they have to generate a lexicon and argue best practices at the same time they are trying to get started on a project. Even those focused on marketing, budgeting, or personnel management may find value to understanding the systems engineering principles so that they can communicate better with their technical staff.
For those who are technical workers or leaders, the ASEP certification is a good way to demonstrate to colleagues that you value INCOSE certification. It can be achieved in a short period of time and can later be built upon to earn higher level certifications. It does require continuing professional development, which is a good reminder of activities all engineering professionals should be doing. It may even help justify education activities that would otherwise be easily deferred. A junior workforce is more likely to get certified, themselves, if they see their boss having gotten certified, even at the ASEP level.