Engineering is an important and learned profession. As members of this profession,
engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity.
Engineering has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for all people.
Accordingly, the services provided by engineers require honesty, impartiality, fairness
and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the public health, safety, and
welfare. Engineers must perform under a standard of professional behavior that requires
adherence to the highest principles of ethical conduct.
I. Fundamental Canons
Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall:
- Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public.
- Perform services only in areas of their competence.
- Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
- Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
- Avoid deceptive acts.
- Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the
honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession.
II. Rules of Practice
- Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.
a. If engineers' judgment is overruled under circumstances that endanger life or
property, they shall notify their employer or client and such other authority as may be
b. Engineers shall approve only those engineering documents that are in conformity with
c. Engineers shall not reveal facts, data or information without the prior consent of
the client or employer except as authorized or required by law or this Code.
d. Engineers shall not permit the use of their name or associate in business ventures
with any person or firm that they believe are engaged in fraudulent or dishonest
e. Engineers having knowledge of any alleged violation of this Code shall report
thereon to appropriate professional bodies and, when relevant, also to public authorities,
and cooperate with the proper authorities in furnishing such information or assistance as
may be required.
- Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competence.
a. Engineers shall undertake assignments only when qualified by education or experience
in the specific technical fields involved.
b. Engineers shall not affix their signatures to any plans or documents dealing with
subject matter in which they lack competence, nor to any plan or document not prepared
under their direction and control.
c. Engineers may accept assignments and assume responsibility for coordination of an
entire project and sign and seal the engineering documents for the entire project,
provided that each technical segment is signed and sealed only by the qualified engineers
who prepared the segment.
- Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
a. Engineers shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements, or
testimony. They shall include all relevant and pertinent information in such reports,
statements, or testimony, which should bear the date indicating when it was current.
b. Engineers may express publicly technical opinions that are founded upon knowledge of
the facts and competence in the subject matter.
c. Engineers shall issue no statements, criticisms, or arguments on technical matters
that are inspired or paid for by interested parties, unless they have prefaced their
comments by explicitly identifying the interested parties on whose behalf they are
speaking, and by revealing the existence of any interest the engineers may have in the
- Engineers shall act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
a. Engineers shall disclose all known or potential conflicts of interest that could
influence or appear to influence their judgment or the quality of their services.
b. Engineers shall not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than one
party for services on the same project, or for services pertaining to the same project,
unless the circumstances are fully disclosed and agreed to by all interested parties.
c. Engineers shall not solicit or accept financial or other valuable consideration,
directly or indirectly, from outside agents in connection with the work for which they are
d. Engineers in public service as members, advisors, or employees of a governmental or
quasi-governmental body or department shall not participate in decisions with respect to
services solicited or provided by them or their organizations in private or public
e. Engineers shall not solicit or accept a contract from a governmental body on which a
principal or officer of their organization serves as a member.
- Engineers shall avoid deceptive acts.
a. Engineers shall not falsify their qualifications or permit misrepresentation of
their or their associates' qualifications. They shall not misrepresent or exaggerate their
responsibility in or for the subject matter of prior assignments. Brochures or other
presentations incident to the solicitation of employment shall not misrepresent pertinent
facts concerning employers, employees, associates, joint venturers, or past
b. Engineers shall not offer, give, solicit or receive, either directly or indirectly,
any contribution to influence the award of a contract by public authority, or which may be
reasonably construed by the public as having the effect of intent to influencing the
awarding of a contract. They shall not offer any gift or other valuable consideration in
order to secure work. They shall not pay a commission, percentage, or brokerage fee in
order to secure work, except to a bona fide employee or bona fide established commercial
or marketing agencies retained by them.
III. Professional Obligations
- Engineers shall be guided in all their relations by the highest standards of honesty and
a. Engineers shall acknowledge their errors and shall not distort or alter the facts.
b. Engineers shall advise their clients or employers when they believe a project will
not be successful.
c. Engineers shall not accept outside employment to the detriment of their regular work
or interest. Before accepting any outside engineering employment they will notify their
d. Engineers shall not attempt to attract an engineer from another employer by false or
e. Engineers shall not actively participate in strikes, picket lines, or other
collective coercive action.
f. Engineers shall not promote their own interest at the expense of the dignity and
integrity of the profession.
- Engineers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest.
a. Engineers shall seek opportunities to participate in civic affairs; career guidance
for youths; and work for the advancement of the safety, health and well-being of their
b. Engineers shall not complete, sign, or seal plans and/or specifications that are not
in conformity with applicable engineering standards. If the client or employer insists on
such unprofessional conduct, they shall notify the proper authorities and withdraw from
further service on the project.
c. Engineers shall endeavor to extend public knowledge and appreciation of engineering
and its achievements.
- Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice that deceives the public.
a. Engineers shall avoid the use of statements containing a material misrepresentation
of fact or omitting a material fact.
b. Consistent with the foregoing, Engineers may advertise for recruitment of personnel.
c. Consistent with the foregoing, Engineers may prepare articles for the lay or
technical press, but such articles shall not imply credit to the author for work performed
- Engineers shall not disclose, without consent, confidential information concerning the
business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client or employer, or
public body on which they serve.
a. Engineers shall not, without the consent of all interested parties, promote or
arrange for new employment or practice in connection with a specific project for which the
Engineer has gained particular and specialized knowledge.
b. Engineers shall not, without the consent of all interested parties, participate in
or represent an adversary interest in connection with a specific project or proceeding in
which the Engineer has gained particular specialized knowledge on behalf of a former
client or employer.
- Engineers shall not be influenced in their professional duties by conflicting interests.
a. Engineers shall not accept financial or other considerations, including free
engineering designs, from material or equipment suppliers for specifying their product.
b. Engineers shall not accept commissions or allowances, directly or indirectly, from
contractors or other parties dealing with clients or employers of the Engineer in
connection with work for which the Engineer is responsible.
- Engineers shall not attempt to obtain employment or advancement or professional
engagements by untruthfully criticizing other engineers, or by other improper or
a. Engineers shall not request, propose, or accept a commission on a contingent basis
under circumstances in which their judgment may be compromised.
b. Engineers in salaried positions shall accept part-time engineering work only to the
extent consistent with policies of the employer and in accordance with ethical
c. Engineers shall not, without consent, use equipment, supplies, laboratory, or office
facilities of an employer to carry on outside private practice.
- Engineers shall not attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly,
the professional reputation, prospects, practice, or employment of other engineers.
Engineers who believe others are guilty of unethical or illegal practice shall present
such information to the proper authority for action.
a. Engineers in private practice shall not review the work of another engineer for the
same client, except with the knowledge of such engineer, or unless the connection of such
engineer with the work has been terminated.
b. Engineers in governmental, industrial, or educational employ are entitled to review
and evaluate the work of other engineers when so required by their employment duties.
c. Engineers in sales or industrial employ are entitled to make engineering comparisons
of represented products with products of other suppliers.
- Engineers shall accept personal responsibility for their professional activities,
provided, however, that Engineers may seek indemnification for services arising out of
their practice for other than gross negligence, where the Engineer's interests cannot
otherwise be protected.
a. Engineers shall conform with state registration laws in the practice of engineering.
b. Engineers shall not use association with a nonengineer, a corporation, or
partnership as a "cloak" for unethical acts.
- Engineers shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due, and
will recognize the proprietary interests of others.
a. Engineers shall, whenever possible, name the person or persons who may be
individually responsible for designs, inventions, writings, or other accomplishments.
b. Engineers using designs supplied by a client recognize that the designs remain the
property of the client and may not be duplicated by the Engineer for others without
c. Engineers, before undertaking work for others in connection with which the Engineer
may make improvements, plans, designs, inventions, or other records that may justify
copyrights or patents, should enter into a positive agreement regarding ownership.
d. Engineers' designs, data, records, and notes referring exclusively to an employer's
work are the employer's property. Employer should indemnify the Engineer for use of the
information for any purpose other than the original purpose.
As Revised July 1996
"By order of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, former
Section 11(c) of the NSPE Code of Ethics prohibiting competitive bidding, and all policy
statements, opinions, rulings or other guidelines interpreting its scope, have been
rescinded as unlawfully interfering with the legal right of engineers, protected under the
antitrust laws, to provide price information to prospective clients; accordingly, nothing
contained in the NSPE Code of Ethics, policy statements, opinions, rulings or other
guidelines prohibits the submission of price quotations or competitive bids for
engineering services at any time or in any amount."
Statement by NSPE Executive Committee
In order to correct misunderstandings which have been indicated in some instances since
the issuance of the Supreme Court decision and the entry of the Final Judgment, it is
noted that in its decision of April 25, 1978, the Supreme Court of the United States
declared: "The Sherman Act does not require competitive bidding."
It is further noted that as made clear in the Supreme Court decision:
- Engineers and firms may individually refuse to bid for engineering services.
- Clients are not required to seek bids for engineering services.
- Federal, state, and local laws governing procedures to procure engineering services are
not affected, and remain in full force and effect.
- State societies and local chapters are free to actively and aggressively seek
legislation for professional selection and negotiation procedures by public agencies.
- State registration board rules of professional conduct, including rules prohibiting
competitive bidding for engineering services, are not affected and remain in full force
and effect. State registration boards with authority to adopt rules of professional
conduct may adopt rules governing procedures to obtain engineering services.
- As noted by the Supreme Court, "nothing in the judgment prevents NSPE and its
members from attempting to influence governmental action . . ."
NOTE: In regard to the question of application of the Code to corporations vis-à-vis
real persons, business form or type should not negate nor influence conformance of
individuals to the Code. The Code deals with professional services, which services must be
performed by real persons. Real persons in turn establish and implement policies within
business structures. The Code is clearly written to apply to the Engineer and items
incumbent on members of NSPE to endeavor to live up to its provisions. This applies to all
pertinent sections of the Code.