When you are getting close to the end of your university engineering program, you have a choice to make – will you pursue your PE (professional engineer) license or take the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam? Or, are you going to skip this step altogether?
If you take and pass the FE exam, you face another choice – after four years of being an Engineer-in-Training, you have to decide if you will receive the PE exam (Principles of Practice of Engineering Exam), or pass this opportunity.
While you may not want to pursue the PE license, there are some benefits. However, before moving forward, understanding the PE license requirements is a must.
Understanding Licensure in the U.S.
In the United States, the engineering profession is regulated by licensing boards. These exist in each US territory and state. The licensing boards have set high standards for professional engineers to help protect the general public.
If you plan to practice fire protection engineering and work as a consultant, or if you want to work for a firm that requires the presence of a registered PE, it’s smart to follow a path that leads to you acquiring the professional engineering registration.
Additionally, modern employers put a value on engineers who have earned this license. Some require licensure for a promotion, and PEs will usually result in higher salaries.
Since FPE is related to public safety, the state laws have required that some engineering projects be managed by a registered and licensed PE. The professional engineer registration is given by the state registration boards based on a written exam, professional experience, and college education.
There are two different exams, you are required to pass after you have graduated from engineering school, and before you earn your engineering license. The first is the FE exam, and the second is the PE exam.
Test Administration and Requirements
The Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam are given by the NCEES – National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. This is a national organization that is given the job of regulating engineer and surveyor testing.
The PE exam is a type of standardized test that is administered around the nation. It is the individual state boards that outline the eligibility requirements of the PE exam, and it is pretty apparent that the specific requirements will vary from one state to another.
While this is true, there are some basic requirements you must meet in every state where the exam is given. These include:
- Meet state educational requirements
- Pass the FE exam
- Meet the experience requirements under a licensed PE
- Pass a background check
- Have an Experience Record signed by references and submitted
- Submit the application paperwork to the appropriate state board
- Pass the engineering ethics or rules exam given by the state
Some states have chosen to separate the PE exam and experience requirements. What this means is you can take the PE exam before meeting the experience requirements and submitted the application to the state board. However, before being licensed, you still must meet the licensing requirements.
Benefits Offered by Passing the PE Licensing Exam
There are several benefits offered when you pass the PE licensing exam and get your license. Some of the most significant benefits are listed here.
Stand Out from the Competition
When you have a PE license, it shows you have the equivalent of a four-year engineering degree, along with four (or more) years of progressive experience and a full understanding of engineering and physical principles.
It also proves you have met or exceeded the standards required in this profession. For a field like electrical engineering, where PE is preferred but not always needed, it provides you with the perfect opportunity to stand out.
Earn a Higher Salary
It’s estimated that the median salary for engineers – in any profession without a PE license is approximately $94,000. For engineers with a PE license, the average salary is $99,000. This represents an increase of about five percent.
It’s a Differentiator During the Hiring Process
If a business is trying to choose between two equally qualified applicants, the one who has a PE license is going to be more appealing. Usually, companies are going to choose a candidate they believe will benefit the company the most.
A company will gain benefits from an employee’s PE license, which makes this person a smart hire.
Sign and Seal Drawings and Plans
Only licensed engineers can submit drawings and plans and manage work in the private sector. These requirements result in more responsibility for the PE, which results in more career possibilities.
You Are Officially an Engineer if You Have a PE License
If you don’t have your PE license, you can’t call yourself an engineer (officially). Also, your company can’t identify you as an engineer in any official documents, resumes, letterheads, business cards, or any other documentation.
If you want to have the title of engineer, then acquiring your PE license is a must.
PE License Requirements: Now You Know
As you can see, the PE license requirements can vary from state to state. While this is true, there are some general guidelines you can use to know what you must do to acquire this certification.
If you are looking for more information about engineering requirements and the legal stipulations and requirements in this industry, check out our blog. In addition to topics about your career, we offer other information and resources for those who have questions. Visit often to see the new content we have posted.