In this Pass the PE Exam article, I explain how you can determine if you’re eligible and qualify to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam also known as the PE Exam.
The Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam (or PE Exam) is administered by the (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying), also referred to as NCEES, a national organization tasked with regulating the testing of engineers and surveyors. The PE exam is a standardized test administered nationally across the United States.
The state education boards in each US State determine PE exam eligibility requirements and, as you might have guessed, they vary among each state. Each state licensing board has its own laws regarding engineering licensure, however the good news is that there is a general three-step process that applies for most licensure candidates, regardless of the State you reside in or plan to take the exam:
Generally, engineering licensing boards require P.E. candidates to have an EAC (Engineering Accreditation Commission) / ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) – accredited bachelor’s degree in engineering, engineering technology or related science.
The ABET accreditation provides assurance to the States that a college or university program meets the quality standards of the profession. It’s kind of a way for there to be some consistency across the country in the concepts and topics being taught to engineering students.
It is important because most states require P.E. candidates to have an EAC/ABET-accredited bachelor’s degree in engineering, engineering technology or related science. Some states permit you to take the PE exam with an engineering technology, physics, math, or chemistry degree, or without any degree at all, providing you meet experience requirements. These requirements are nearly always greater for applicants without an accredited engineering degree. Check the requirements of your state licensing board, as each state licensing board has varying educational requirements.
Licensure candidates typically must pass two exams to achieve their professional engineering license, The Fundamentals of Engineering or FE exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering or the PE exam. An FE exam waiver may be considered in lieu of additional engineering experience. Just passing those two exams (which is no easy task) is not the ONLY thing you need to do to get your license, you also need experience.
Most states require four years of acceptable, progressive, and verifiable work experience in the engineering industry.
Engineering experience includes Engineering Design, Engineering Calculations, Planning for Engineering Works, Preparation & Review of Engineering Plans, Preparation & Review of Engineering Specifications, and Engineering Analysis.
How much experience is needed?
That depends on, of course, your State board, but also the type of degree you have. Typically, with an ABET accredited Engineering Degree, four years (minimum) of experience is required, whereas with other accepted degrees, eight years (minimum) of experience is required.
Some states have decoupled the PE exam from the experience requirement. This means you are able to sit for the PE exam before you have met the full experience requirement and submitted an application to your state board. HOWEVER you will still have to meet the experience requirement before you are able to be licensed. Check your State Board’s website as many of them clearly list the requirements.
Here is the link to the webpage on the National Society of Professional Engineers website that provides the links to all of the State licensing boards.
Now you can check if you are eligible to take the PE Exam. It’s one of the most important things you will do in your career!
I hope you found this week’s article helpful. Remember the 80/20 Rule in YOUR studying efforts and your reference material selection.
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Lastly, I encourage you to ask questions in the comments of this post or on this page and I’ll read and respond to them in future videos. So if there’s a specific topic you want me to cover or answer, we have you covered.
I’ll see you next week.
Anthony Fasano, P.E.
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success