We are all engineers

On the overuse of the term engineer in the computing industry.

Recently while placing an ad for a Database Administrator (DBA) for my team on a career website, the site suggested similar roles to me, one of which was for a "Database Engineer" at Facebook.

It reminded me of an interview I did with Facebook a few years back, when they suggested that I pursue a "Sales Engineer" role with them. I declined, firstly because it was not the role I had applied for and secondly because I had no interest in doing anything sales related, to which they insisted that the role involved no actual sales.

It seems that job titles no longer have any real meaning in this industry, with regards to how they match responsibilities of the job in question.

Facebook seem to be particularly fond of the "engineer" prefix, here is a sample of their current vacancies1:

  • AV/VC Operations Engineer
  • Benchmarking and Performance Engineer
  • Build Engineer
  • Building Automation Controls Engineer
  • Cluster Operations Engineer
  • Data Center Facility Electrical Engineer
  • Data Engineer
  • Database Engineer
  • Data Warehouse Engineer
  • Developer Support Engineer
  • Embedded Software Engineer
  • Engineer, Communication and Information Tools
  • Engineer, Recruiting and People Tools
  • Engineer, Sales and Marketing Tools
  • Escalation Engineer
  • Front-end Engineer
  • Git/Build Engineer
  • Hardware Engineer (various)
  • Hardware System Engineer, ARM
  • Hardware Validation Engineer
  • IT System Engineer
  • Manufacturing Quality Engineer
  • Media Systems Engineer
  • Mobile Operations Engineer
  • MySQL Database Engineer
  • Network Engineer (various)
  • Network Hardware Design Engineer
  • Operations Engineer
  • Operations Engineer, Information Security
  • Operations Integration Engineer
  • Partner Engineer, Games
  • Partner Engineer, Open Graph
  • Partner Engineer, Platform
  • Performance and Capacity Engineer
  • Power Engineer
  • Product Security Engineer
  • Production Engineer
  • Release Engineer
  • Security Engineer
  • Site Integrity User Experience Engineer
  • Site Reliability Engineer
  • Software Engineer (various)
  • Solutions Engineer
  • Storage Engineer
  • Storage Validation Engineer
  • Supplier Quality Engineer, Mechanical
  • System Software Engineer
  • Systems Engineer, Release to Production
  • Trust Engineer
  • Video Streaming Engineer

I could go on, but frankly this is exhausting.

There was a time when an engineer looked something like this:

Engineer & Baldwin Steam Locomotive in Silverton

References

John Collins

I have been writing about web technology and software development since 2001. I am the developer of the Alpha Framework for PHP, and the five.today personal productivity app. I love open source, technology, and economics.

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