The Professional Engineering (PE) license is a coveted professional credential that will grant you increased pay and job opportunities. Since applicants are required to have at least four years of supervised work experience prior to taking the PE exam, hiring managers for engineering firms immediately favor license holders because they know they already have a solid base of expertise and a college degree.
Even so, very few working engineers are professionally licensed. This is due to the arduous application standards as well as state and NCEES exceptions that enable engineers to practice, as long as they remain under the supervision of a licensed professional. By earning your PE credential, you can distinguish your portfolio and resume from other applicants and you will be able to take on more job responsibilities like accepting government contracts, becoming a principal at a design firm, stamping and sealing designs or working for yourself as a consultant. If you think an engineering career is right for you, then plan to prepare for the PE right after you graduate from college.
The path to PE licensure is rigorous and starts while you are in an ABET-accredited college with the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, after which you will need to get work experience and pass the Professional Engineering exam.
Most states allow reciprocity between states, which means you can transfer your professional credentials no matter where you live as long as you have an ABET-accredited degree. This is a crucial caveat because the ABET’s standards are the scale by which all state boards and consumers measure the professionalism and worth of engineers and engineering firms. If you do not have an ABET-accredited degree, you will likely have to reapply for licensure if you move to another state.
You must participate in continuing education to maintain your P.E. credential. Continuing education standards are dictated by state boards instead of the NCEES, so determine the requirements in your location after passing the PE exam. A number of activities can qualify for continuing education credits, depending on your location; for example, in Alaska, continuing education credit is awarded for publishing an academic paper pertaining to engineering or completing semester and quarter-long courses in subjects related to engineering, such as public safety or health.
After earning your license, you should review your state’s requirements for continuing education and professional development in order to avoid having your licensed revoked or voided.
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