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This is why I always respond to questions about what I do with "software engineer". I've noticed people seem to perceive "engineering" as more serious than "programming", and it helps to promote the idea that I build things to solve problems and don't just sit there turning designs into code.

From Wikipedia:

Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are people who invent, design, analyse, build, and test machines, systems, structures and materials to fulfill objectives and requirements while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety, and cost.

If you’re doing that you’re an engineer. Hopefully we are all doing that.

I feel like in areas like software, hardware, electrical, mechanical -construction, there are two descriptors of practitioners and they are at opposite ends; hackers and engineers. At least that’s how I think about myself. Sometimes what I do is hacking together a proof of concept, and sometimes I’m engineering a product.

Of course, there is something in the middle, and for software, that is probably “coders” or “programmers”.

Unless you're in certain states where engineer is a protected term.

Engineer is not a "protected term" in any US state that I'm aware of. "Professional Engineer" has a specific licensed meaning but, if I have a degree in mechanical engineering I'm pretty sure I can call myself an engineer anywhere in the US without the licensing police coming after me. (Unless, of course, I imply that I'm licensed when I'm not.)

If you work in a music studio, and you call yourself a sound engineer, no one is going to ask to see your credentials because it's assumed that you engineer sound. The same holds through with software engineering. No one expects you to carry some sort of card. When it comes to structural, or civil engineering, there is a far higher expectation that the things you design are not going to fall down. But we're able to understand this distinction. The idea that we should disallow computer coders/programmers from using the term engineer is not based on reducing confusion...

>When it comes to structural, or civil engineering, there is a far higher expectation that the things you design are not going to fall down.

The big thing is that you need a P.E. in many cases to do things like sign off on drawings for regulators. Some civil engineers, mechanical engineers, etc. have PE's and many don't. In Louisiana, I had business cards with an engineering title and definitely worked as an engineer. At some point, had I remained in the oil business, I'd have gotten a PE because I'd presumably have eventually been in a position where I had approval authority over designs submitted to various government agencies.

The term "engineer" is definitely protected in Texas, and I think some other states.

Someone ought to tell whoever put all these job listings up (including in Houston): https://www.rigzone.com/a-mud-engineer-jobs/

ADDED: TIL apparently Texas is indeed exceptionally restrictive (in theory) about the use of the term "engineer." [1] I'd be pretty certain this is widely ignored in practice. Leave the oil business aside, I'm guessing that tech companies in Texas probably advertise engineering positions now and then. (Yep: https://jobs.dell.com/location/united-states-texas-round-roc...)

[1] https://www.statesman.com/news/20160903/their-name-on-the-li...

The oil industry is setup as nested subcontractors so that no-one with any money is responsible for these kinds of screwups.

Go look into the actual law, you legally can't call yourself an engineer in Texas without a PE, or a couple tiny carveouts (on the order of you work at NASA, and NASA calls you an engineer)

Replying to your edit: there are no jobs on that Dell site in Texas with engineer in the title. It's including some from Minnesota for some reason.

The problem of listing to dynamic sites. See e.g. https://jobs.dell.com/job/austin/software-senior-engineer-re...

There are doubtless tens of thousands of Texas job listings for "engineer" positions in software and elsewhere. (Software is especially notable only because my understanding is that PE's in software have basically been phased out. So you basically can't get licensed in that branch of engineering even if you have an accredited degree and have met the other requirements.)

Not Texas iirc.

As I recall my days in the oil industry, "engineer" was one of the most overused titles. We used to joke about "mud engineers" (reps of the companies that sold the ingredients that made up drilling mud) being, in fact, "mud salesmen." (If you were being generous, they were technicians but they did mostly make recommendations and sell you stuff.)

Heh, on iron ore mine sites we have "hose technicians" whose job is to clean up any spillage with a high pressure hose. There are also jokes about "sanitation engineers" who clean the toilets.

Exactly. I would welcome changes that would bring software engineering to a state where it was a protected term. If someone used that term I could have a high degree of certainty that they would abide by certain standards both professional and ethical. Such as “certain percentage of test coverage” and “certain big-O tolerance” for different project levels. Etc. otherwise I’d write the person off as a coder.

Different places have different standards for engineers, and any other title. It doesn’t matter that you call yourself an engineer in any case. What matters in some cases are the standards you use; is it licensed by someone or something, or is it something else? That’s what you should be asking. What are the standards used?

You can do engineering without following any official standard, and anyone who do engineering is of course an engineer, so yeah, the protected title thing is just meh.

I've found myself saying "I, uh, build software" lately.

I guess because I don't like any of the established terms.

I tend to avoid the word "building" in the context of describing what I do. After all, the compiler does the building :-) "I design and develop software" is what I usually say.

Would be nice if there was a word that captures the idea of someone both designing and constructing the internals of a machine.

I try to avoid the word "design" because most people immediately think of graphic design and get the wrong idea of what I do. Even though it's not as technically accurate, I think "building" or "engineering" are better words to use for people not familiar with software development.

It's funny, I've gone from "I'm a coder" -> "I'm a software developer" -> "I'm a software engineer" -> "I'm a developer" -> "I make useful things."

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