Why Become a Licensed Engineer?


Often a degree alone is not enough for many engineering positions. As you can imagine, practicing as an engineer often requires strict adherence to safety and public health issues.

Therefore, licensing is a necessity to prove that a particular engineer understands all the concepts and the code of ethics involved with working as an engineer.

Licensing will help an engineer prove that they have the highese level of qualifications and professional competency.

For all these reasons, licensing will enhance your status and professionalism as an engineer. Getting licensed may also help you gain employment, demand a higher salary and qualify for more prestigious positions and projects.

A licensed engineer may use the initials P.E. after their name (Professional Engineer). As you probably recognize, with the uncertainties in this day and age, the more credentials you have, the better your chances of finding employment are. You need to position yourself properly for employment. You need to be prepared to adapt to changing workforce. Taking the extra steps to becoming a licensed engineer will only put you in a better position.

Many companies make it a requirement to become a licensed engineer and provide rewards for those that take the steps toward licensing. Some companies will help their employees with licensure by providing review courses and even reimbursement of the application and required fees.

A few advantages on becoming a licensed engineer…

  • Only licensed engineers may pursue careers as consultants or private practitioners.
  • Only licensed engineers may put in order, present, sign and seal engineering plans and drawings to a public authority for approval.
  • In some states, only licensed engineers may teach.
  • Some higher level government engineering jobs can only be filled by licensed engineers.
  • Only a licensed engineer may use the title “engineer” to the public.

Enhance your credibility and open up new doors for your career. Rise to the top of your company or department!

How to Get Your Engineering License?

When you are ready to begin securing your engineering license, you will need to review your states laws. Licensure is governed by individual state legislatures and may vary from state to state.

Fortunately, the laws governing professional engineers are similar. The basic steps include graduating from a college or university, gaining experience in the field of engineering (4 years) and passing the required written exams.

Once you graduate, make sure you start the licensing process (if you have not already begun) by gaining the pre-license certificate known as the Engineers in Training (EIT) certificate. This certificate is also called Engineer Intern (EI) in some states.

The EIT (or comparable certificate) signifies that you have completed the engineering degree requirements and have passed the Fundamental of Engineering Exam (FE Exam). In order to gain an EIT certification, the degree requirements must be met as well as a successful score on the FE exam. After that, the candidate will have to pay a small fee (between $10 and $100) depending on the state.

However, gaining the EIT certificate does not mean you are a licensed engineer; you still need to meet the engineering experience requirements (usually 4 years of experience are necessary) and pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam (PE Exam). In most states, you may not take the PE Exam until you have gained at least 4 years of qualifying engineering experience.

The EIT is usually good for ten years and in most cases, your state will transfer it to another if you move before you take the PE Exam. In addition, most states will transfer the PE Exam without further examination.

To summarize, most states require the completion of an engineering degree and the passing of an 8-hour Fundamentals of Engineering exam. Upon completion of the degree and the passing of the FE Exam, the candidate will qualify for the EIT certificate. Once the engineer completes the engineering experience requirements (usually 4 years of experience is required) and an 8-hour Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam in the engineer’s specialty, they qualify for official certification as a Professional Engineer and may use the initials P.E. after their name.

Who is in Charge of Licensing Engineers?

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) prepares all the FE and PE exams for engineering licensure. The NCEES is in charge of the licensure of all engineers, regardless of the state the engineer resides in.

The General Steps for Becoming a Licensed Professional Engineer…

  • Graduate from a college or university engineering program (must be ABET-accredited).
  • Take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam – usually right after graduation (or you may take it right before). The FE exam is offered every April and October and lasts 8 hours. The FE exam rules may vary due to the state you are in. Most states allow individuals to take the FE exam before they gain experience.
  • Get a job in engineering and gain 4 years of experience (again this can vary from state to state, but most require 4 years).
  • Take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam in your specialty. This is the second and last exam in the licensure process. This exam is also offered every April and October and is an 8 hour exam.

Please recognize that these steps are only a general overview of the steps required to become a professional engineer. The rules can vary from state to state. Therefore, you will need to contact your state licensing board for details on licensing in your jurisdiction.