Engineer or Scientific Technician TN?

Question: I was offered an Engineering position with a US company, but the company wants to file for the TN under the Scientific Technician category. They do not think my Bachelor of Science in Physics qualifies for a TN as an Engineer although I have more than 6 years experience as an engineer in Canada. Is the Sci/Tech category proper for an Engineering position?

Answer: The nature of the job duties should determine the proper TN category to file under. If the job duties involve those normally undertaken by an Engineer, then the application should be filed under the Engineer category. As surmised by the company, and as provided in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (a primary reference tool used by U.S. immigration), a bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for almost all entry-level engineering jobs. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, Engineers. But an engineering degree is not the sole means of qualifying for an Engineering position. For example, the OOH also provides that “[c]ollege graduates with a degree in a natural science or mathematics occasionally may qualify for some engineering jobs, especially in specialties in high demand.” Id.

It’s also important to note that the only TN category that requires a specific degree is the Hotel Manager category. The requirement for the remaining TN categories is that the degree “should be in the field or in a closely related field.” Cronin, Memo (2000). A degree in an “allied field” may also be acceptable. Id. You may be able to make an argument that your Physics degree qualifies you for a TN under the Engineer category. The OOH provides support for this proposition: “People with only a bachelor’s degree in physics…may qualify for a wide range of positions related to engineering, mathematics, computer science, environmental science, and some nonscience fields, such as finance.” Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, Physicists and Astronomers. Individuals with a physics degree may also work as a “computer software engineer, computer programmer, or systems analyst or developer, rather than physicist.” Id.

If the position is more of supporting role, and is under the direction and supervision of degreed Engineers, then the Scientific Technician TN may be more suitable fit. The OOH provides moderate support for the proposition that a Physicist may qualify for a Sci/Tech TN: individuals “with bachelor’s degrees in physics are…usually qualified to work as technicians or research assistants in engineering-related areas, in software development and other scientific fields, or in setting up computer networks and sophisticated laboratory equipment.” OOH, Physicists and Astronomers.

Alternatively, you may consider whether the position falls under the Physicist TN category. The work of physicists is closely related to that of engineers. OOH, Physicists and Astronomers. If the position offered requires the application and analysis of the basic principles and laws of physics to perform research and development and to develop new devices, products, and processes, then the Physicist TN category may be suitable.