In this article (and video above), I answer a question from one of our listeners who asks whether or not he needs to choose a specialty for the Civil PE Exam.
So, Does It Matter Which Civil PE Exam You Take?
Yes! You are indeed required to choose between one of the five depth exams to take. The PE Civil exam is broken up into two sections: the breadth and the depth. The breadth portion is held in the morning and is the same for every examinee, and the depth portion is held in the afternoon and is structured around areas of specialty, one of which each examinee must select.
The five depths are construction, geotechnical, structural, transportation, and water resources and environmental.
If you are struggling to decide which depth to sign up for, consider looking into the pass rates, potential job responsibilities, and average salaries for each of the five depth options to help you with your decision.
Here Are the 5 Depth Exam Options:
1. PE Civil: Construction
- For the June 2021 exam, the pass rates for the construction depth exam were 53% for first-time takers and 26% for repeat takers
- Duties for professionals in this discipline could include residential and commercial site planning and designing and managing infrastructure
- The Average Annual Pay (AAP) for a civil engineer in this discipline is approximately $91,370 US dollars
2. PE Civil: Geotechnical
- For the June 2021 exam, the pass rates for the geotechnical depth exam were 66% for first-time takers and 48% for repeat takers
- Duties for geotechnical engineers could include monitoring worksite conditions, foundation design, and earthwork
- The Average Annual Pay (AAP) for a geotechnical engineer is approximately $94,240 US dollars
3. PE Civil: Structural
- For the June 2021 exam exam, the pass rates for the structural depth exam were 56% for first-time takers and 35% for repeat takers
- Duties for structural engineers could include designing and managing buildings or bridges.
- The Average Annual Pay (AAP) for a structural engineer is approximately $84,770 US Dollars
Please note that the PE Civil: Structural depth exam is NOT the same exam as the SE Exam.
4. PE Civil: Transportation
- For the June 2021 exam, the pass rates for the transportation depth exam were 70% for first-time takers and 51% for repeat takers
- Duties for transportation engineers could include planning urban transportation, designing roadways, and operating transportation facilities
- The Average Annual Pay (AAP) for a transportation engineer is $84,770 US Dollars
5. PE Civil: Water Resources & Environmental
- For the June 2021 exam, the pass rates for the water resources and environmental depth exam were 67% for first-time takers and 44% for repeat takers
- Duties for an engineer in water resources or the environmental field could include designing and managing human water equipment and implementing air pollution, radiation, and recycling control
- The Average Annual Pay (AAP) for an engineer in water resources or environmental is approximately $86,800 US Dollars
Reference: Information for the pass rates and average salaries in this video were taken from NCEES and School of PE, which we will include the links of, below this video.
Another great way to determine which depth you should take is to check out NCEES’ PE Civil exam specifications that we will link to in the comments of this video. The exam specifications outline the topics that will be covered on each depth exam.
Also, check out the video we did called: What’s The Hardest PE Exam? where we talk about the difficulty level of the different PE Exams.
I hope you found this article helpful. In upcoming articles, I will solve some more PE exam practice problems and answer other questions from our subscribers. Pass the PE Exam videos will publish weekly, so be sure to click the subscribe button so you don’t miss something that could make a substantial difference in your exam result.
Lastly, I encourage you to ask questions in the comments of this video, 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… on Pass the PE Exam
Anthony Fasano, P.E.
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success