Professional licensure is the engineering profession’s standard of competency similar to doctors and lawyers, letting clients, the public, employers and engineering associates know that you have mastered the fundamentals and essential substance of your chosen engineering discipline. Each state in the United States licenses professional engineers as a way to protect the general public’s health, safety and welfare.
Individual state’s requirements for engineering licensure may vary somewhat, and therefore should be
A typical path for a student to achieve licensure includes the following:
- Graduation from an ABET, Inc. (formerly Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accredited university’s 4 year engineering program.
- Passage of the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES, www.ncees.org), and best taken before the conclusion of your college education.
- 4 years of engineering experience under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer.
- Passage of the Professional Engineer (PE) exam near or after the achievement of your 4 years of experience.
- Application to your state’s licensing board for licensure.
The Structural examination taken to become a structural engineer is a 2 day, 16 hour exam administered by NCEES. You can review the general description of the exam components and specific topics in each testing section on NCEES’ website, http://ncees.org/exams/pe-exam/.
Once licensure is achieved, you may wish to consider establishing a Council Record with NCEES. The Council Record collects your educational experience, initial licensing professional references, licensing exam results and annual professional engineering employment experience all in one place. This can simplify comity licensing in states other than your original state, because many states accept the Council Record in lieu of portions of their own licensing application. A Council Record is not a licensing requirement, but a simplifying aid in acquiring licenses in more than one state.
If you have dreams of managing an engineering office or starting your own engineering business at some time in the future, then you will need to be a licensed professional engineer. With PE after your name, you are letting everyone know of your competency in the engineering profession!