PE licensure is the engineering profession's highest standard of competence, a symbol of achievement and assurance of quality.
To a client, it means you've got the credentials to earn their trust. To an employer, it signals your ability to take on a higher level of responsibility. Among your colleagues, it demands respect. To yourself, it's a symbol pride and measure of your own hard-won achievement.
In an effort to best prepare our students for industry, our department requires all engineering students to complete ME 40500 - Seminar and Fundamentals of Engineering Review, which includes a complete review of the fundamental topics covered in the FE exam.
A century ago, anyone could work as an engineer without proof of competency. In order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare, the first engineering licensure law was enacted in 1907 in Wyoming. Now every state regulates the practice of engineering to ensure public safety by granting only Professional Engineers (PEs) the authority to sign and seal engineering plans and offer their services to the public.
PE Licensure is legally required for consulting engineers and private practitioners who are in responsible charge of work, whether principals or employees.
Many government positions also require licensure, particularly those considered higher level and responsible positions.
Though the specific requirements for licensure can differ from state to state, licensure candidates follow the same basic steps throughout the U.S. and its territories:
- Step 1: Become an Engineer Intern
If you're a graduate from an engineering program approved by your state's licensure board, you can become classified as an "engineer intern" or "engineer-in-training" by successfully completing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. Achieving EI or EIT status signals that you have mastered the fundamental requirements – and taken the first step – toward earning your PE licensure.
- Step 2: Gain professional experience
All states require that candidates complete four years of qualifying engineering experience, typically under the supervision of a professional engineer. In many cases, your school can guide you to engineering jobs in your area, or you can take advantage of NSPE's Career Center and search for the right opportunity on their Job Board.
- Step 3: Learn your state's licensure requirement
Each state (as well as the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories) has its own licensure board, administering its own exam and required qualifications. To find out more about your state's licensure requirements, visit the Web site of your state licensing board state-by-state summary.
- Step 4: Prepare for and take the PE exam
In most cases, the final step in attaining licensure is successfully completing the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam in your state.
The FE exam is typically the first step in the process leading to the P.E. license. It is designed for students who are close to finishing an undergraduate engineering degree. The exam lasts 8 hours and is administered in April and October. For more information about FE exam, please visit the NCEES website.
The PE exam tests your ability to practice competently in a particular engineering discipline. It is designed for engineers who have gained at least four years’ post-college work experience in their chosen engineering discipline. The PE exam is typically the last step in the process of becoming a licensed P.E.