Will keep this short and simple.

Someone recently referred to me as a "process engineer". I am a Lean-Six Sigma Black Belt and, to be honest, basically am a process engineer.

I am fully qualified in LSS and very knowledgeable about process analysis/engineering.

However, I was quite taken aback to be described as an "engineer" (of any type), since I don't have an engineering degree. My degree is in Economics. However, I would say that the quantitative aspects of econometrics were very good preparation for the quantitative aspects of process engineering.

I am also fluent in three programming languages (VBA, SQL and R), and someone also asked me (on hearing this), whether I was a software engineer. Again, my immediate response was, "Ha ha - no!" But, again, why not? After all, I know someone whose job title is "software engineer", who is an entirely self-taught programming prodigy with no CS or engineering degree - in fact, no degree at all, only a handful of GCSEs. Yet he is unquestionably a software engineer (and a brilliant one, who I would trust more than an Oxbridge CS grad).

I suppose the question is, was this person right to call me a process engineer? Can I refer to myself as such, despite having no engineering degree? Does having an LSS BB make me a process engineer? And at the end of the day, does it matter?

EDIT - since several people have asked; yes, I am currently employed in a role which would fit most people's definitions of a "process engineering" role - although, I would more typically refer to myself as a "continuous improvement professional".

  • 2
    You are what you say you are - as long as you're not claiming membership of any organization. If you claimed membership of IEEE just because you think you're as good as the members, then that's wrong - but there's no restriction on who can call themselves an Engineer
    – PeteCon
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 20:40
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    Where are you located? There are some countries where saying you are an engineer is like saying you are a doctor or a lawyer; you must have certain certifications. In other countries it really doesn't matter
    – David K
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 20:41
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    @DavidK the UK. Yes, these things are weirdly cultural - while holidaying in Latin America, I was told I was called an "economist" (and would be referred to as "Senor Economista") just because I had an undergrad degree in economics! Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 20:43
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    @PeteConbe careful with that advice, some countries, and even a couple US states do protect the title Engineer, to the point that you can be criminally charged for misrepresenting yourself. I do not know if that has been fully litigated (to the supreme court), and there may be small details, such as "Engineer" is a no no, but "Software Engineer" is just fine. Here is a recent case that made national news (he was vindicated in the end): washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/12/08/…
    – shenles
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 20:44
  • 1
    @shenles has good advice, here. Oregon, in particular, is rather draconian in this area. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 21:16

6 Answers 6


It depends on where you live. In some countries, calling yourself an Engineer without being a card-carrying member of the Society of Professional Engineers or similar is flat-out illegal.

In other countries you can call yourself whatever you want.

  • In Belgium, engineer is a protected title and only those with the relevant degree may use it. There are actually two kinds of engineers and both have their own distinct title and abbreviation. Many companies here have positions with the word engineer in them, which is perfectly acceptable. So while you can say that you are a Process Engineer for a certain company, you cannot use engineer or its abbreviation as a personal title. So best of both worlds, I guess? Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 9:00

You've already answered this in your question:

to be honest, I'm basically am a process engineer.

What you call yourself should really depend on who you're talking to and what context they're likely to understand.

You can bet that most people outside the industry have no idea what "Lean-Six Sigma" means (I sure don't!). So, bringing this down to "process engineer" describes you in words that people can relate to. You are basically engineering processes to make them more efficient, so it seems a fair fit. It's also ambiguous enough to encourage people to ask more.

Here in the UK, you don't need any qualification to call yourself an "engineer" in the computing industry, it's just a description of your role.


I suppose the question is, was this person right to call me a process engineer? Can I refer to myself as such, despite having no engineering degree? Does having an LSS BB make me a process engineer? And at the end of the day, does it matter?

I think that we must distinguish job titles from educational degrees.

Despite having or not an educational degree, when you are working you are in fact filling a job position, one that has or could have a job title. Then, it will not matter if you have a degree on it, as you are still fulfilling and carrying out the tasks and responsibilities of such position.

You may not have an academic background on that matter, but you have qualified yourself through other means, as well as are able (an possibly working?) on Process Engineering of some sort. If that is true then it would not be rare for people to address you as a Process Engineer.

Also remember that there is not much formal science for making out job titles (unless it's really specific and unambiguous like Angular Front-end Developer). In some cases you can't even fall into a single category, which makes creating titles harder.

Personally I have been called all sorts of Titles and variants throughout my job experience, as people sometimes simplify or generalize too much when saying titles; it is not rare to hear people address you as "the IT guy", regardless of what branches or interest you specialize on Computer Science. You could well be expert on other process improvement methodologies and still be called "Process Engineer".

Now, if you are not ok with the way people address you, you may try to present yourself as the Title of your choice, as well as politely remind it to your coworkers when they confuse it. However, have in mind that this is not flawless and people may still simplify or boast its usage with other variants.


If you have the school title, or business title you can call yourself a Process Engineer. It is not a protected title, (in most places of the world. YMMV, do your due diligence) so in fact you can call yourself it if you like.

But if you don't have a grade or a business title you just shouldn't. If you don't have an engineering degree, or work experience as an engineer, people will assume you know stuff you probably don't. A LSS BB is not it. (for reference, I am a LSS black belt AND a process engineer... ;-)

You should care of others expectations of you when throwing titles around, they don't have any other purpose (except self image, for some).


I suppose the question is [sic], was this person right to call me a process engineer? ...

So long as by doing so they were not deliberately misleading you or someone else.

Can I refer to myself as such, ...

There's no UK law that would prevent this.

despite having no engineering degree? ...

Not relevant. In the UK, the term engineer isn't reserved for people with specific academic qualifications.

Does having an LSS BB make me a process engineer? ...


Having the job title "process engineer" may not make you one either.

And at the end of the day, does it matter? ...

No, in some situations an engineer is just someone who shovels coal into locomotives for a living, not someone who designs new types of locomotive. In the UK, it is commonplace for job titles to be fairly meaningless, especially in IT. Job titles sometimes seem to be a sort of aspirational nonsense used in place of money as a motivational pat on the back. Job titles don't cost shareholders anything.


Personally I'd like it if the term engineer was reserved in the way it appears to be in Germany, for example. However the reality is that the origins of the word and (one or more of) its current meaning(s) in the UK are much less exalted.


People can call you whatever they want. Your company can call you whatever it wants as a job title.

That said, "process engineer" is an overloaded term. I have seen it used to refer to people who build and improve organizational processes. However, it's also specifically used in chemical engineering and bioengineering (and maybe a few other disciplines) to refer to production facilities and processes (see "process engineering" on Wikipedia).

I'm an engineer myself - I graduated from a ABET-accredited engineering program, took the Obligation of the Engineer, and am a member of the IEEE. I do think that, sometimes, the term "engineer" is overloaded (see calling trash collectors "sanitation engineers"). However, I think the first sentence on the Wikipedia page for Engineering is one of the best definitions that I've ever seen:

Engineering is the application of mathematics, science, economics, empirical evidence, social knowledge, and practical knowledge to invent, innovate, design, build, maintain, research, and improve structures, machines, tools, systems, components, materials, processes, solutions, and organizations.

If you are doing those things, you are doing engineering. It doesn't matter if it's buildings, software, hardware, facilities, or organizations.

However, you do need to be careful. In some areas, engineering is a regulated field, to different degrees. Terms like "Engineering in Training", "Professional Engineer", "Graduate Engineer", "Chartered Engineer", "Registered Engineer", and in some areas, even "Engineer" may have specific legal meaning. You should be aware of local regulations and laws.

The short story is:

On your resume, CV, LinkedIn profile, when filling out employment history records, etc., you should be using the title that your company has for you. If you don't know what your job title is, you should find that out. Ask HR or your manager, if you need to.

Before using arbitrary titles to refer to yourself, understand local rules and regulations. If it's acceptable and would make it easier to understand what it is you do for work, you can refer to yourself as anything you want. Internally to your organization, it's probably best (and least confusing) to stick to your job title. To others, anything that communicates your background and responsibilities works.

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