Calgary technologist she-cession-proofs career with help of first-in-Canada program
04, Aug, 2021
EDMONTON, Aug. 4, 2021 – When Kerrie-Lee Scott was 19 and left SAIT a semester short of finishing her engineering technology education, it was a decision she’d regret for years to come. Thankfully, a second chance at attaining her professional credentials was offered by the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) through its competency-based assessment program - the only one of its kind in Canada.
Scott, who was born in Scotland, immigrated to Canada and grew up in Calgary, was raised by a single, teenaged mother and hails from a long line of strong, independent women. However, even her family background couldn’t prepare her for how challenging it would be to build a career in engineering technology without the piece of paper legitimizing her skills that so many employers demanded.
After moving to London for a few years on the wings of her British passport, Scott eventually returned to Calgary to establish herself in the engineering technology profession minus proof of having graduated from a polytechnic. Humble and no stranger to a hardscrabble life, she landed a technical role, admitting to her lack of diploma but convincing employers as to why she was qualified for the job. She has worked in an engineering technology capacity since 2006 and moved from employment with a fabricator to oil and gas producer to her current role with a major energy company.
Over the course of the last several years, she held positions with substantial technical responsibility and accountability. But, due to her lack of diploma, she was never compensated in line with her peers.
“I just kept working and certifying myself in other ways with the goal of eventual proper compensation for the roles I was in. I am a certified welding inspector, for example, as that was a way to work into asset integrity or quality control roles without a degree,” said Scott.
About seven years into her career, she approached SAIT about finishing her diploma program but was advised that too much time had elapsed and she would be required to start all over again.
Then, one day in 2019, everything changed: she learned of ASET’s competency-based assessment program. Launched by ASET in 2016, the program is designed to create a level playing field for engineering technology professionals who have not graduated from an applied science, engineering, or information technology program or who are unable to produce academic transcripts. This includes engineering technology professionals who haven’t followed the typical academic path into their careers or who have come to Canada from another country.
The program enables qualified engineering technology professionals to gain purchase in their career fields without having to return to school full-time. Those seeking certification and an ASET designation (CET or C.Tech.) now undergo a competency assessment. This includes submitting documents - such as CV, job descriptions, and references - confirming their work experience locally and abroad. They then complete a single competency exam to validate their technical knowledge at the technologist level, as well as an ethics and law exam.
Scott reached out to ASET, forwarded the requisite documentation, and expedited fulfilling the program requirements by writing and passing the mandatory exams. By 2020, she had achieved her certified engineering technologist designation (CET) - the gold standard by which most engineering technology professionals are measured. With CET in hand, she accepted a senior program planning role with her current employer and received a wage matching her certification and all those years of experience.
For Scott, who had done the work of a CET for years but without the commensurate pay, this was a transformative accomplishment.
“I’m now compensated in line with my level of experience and responsibility and I have ASET to thank for that,” said Scott. “I felt I’d made a big mistake at the start of my career and paid for it for years. It was important to me to close the loop on it. I’m grateful to have had the ability to do that.”
“Kerrie-Lee is a shining example of the positive outcomes for engineering technology professionals that we hoped would result when we launched this program,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh. “ASET is not only the only engineering technology association in Canada that has created and made available this program, it’s also the only regulatory association in Alberta that has done it.”
ASET is the professional self-regulatory organization for engineering technologists and technicians in Alberta. ASET currently represents over 16,000 members, including full-time technology students, recent graduates and fully certified members in 21 disciplines and more than 120 occupations across a multitude of industries.
Michele Penz, Calico Communications for ASET