Technology has taken center stage in today’s workforce, with many considering a career in engineering and looking to obtain a license for professional engineering. Many interested in the field need to thoroughly evaluate all preparation and qualification opportunities, such as whether to pursue a Technical Engineering (PE) certification, to get the most out of a career in engineering.
Many of the young engineering professionals who will join the future workforce are facing this decision, especially engineering students about to graduate. Both options have pros and cons; a PE license, on the one hand, allows engineering professionals to achieve a more advanced level of career, but it is a challenging and time-consuming procedure, on the other hand.
PE License Requirements
A certificate for Professional Engineering is a qualification that indicates the commitment of an engineer to a higher level of standards. Before 1907, evidence of ability and competence was not needed for people to work as engineers, thus putting at risk public wellbeing, health, and safety.
At this time in Wyoming, the first engineering licensure law was enacted, ushering in a new age of engineering quality. Today, qualifications for technical engineers are highly regarded, and often a requirement.
Are the Benefits Worth the Cost
Becoming a PE engineer has many advantages. Technical Engineering qualification, considered the highest degree of competence for the engineering profession, not only increases one’s stature in the industry but also indicates that the candidate has higher standards of authority and obligation.
Also, since the criteria for obtaining PE status are strict, and businesses often do not need a PE employment license, not all engineers are licensed or feel a need to do so. But there is a range of realistic career opportunities that are not always open to non-licensed engineers, in addition to gaining more respect among peers and potential customers while bringing about a personal sense of achievement.
Difference Between Engineer and Engineering Specialist
Getting a Professional Engineering License shows that an applicant has met all the requirements of the profession and sets the person apart from others, particularly for fields where the PE is desired but not required.
Only a licensed engineer can, for example, prepare, sign, seal and submit engineering plans and drawings for approval by a public authority. More authority and greater earning opportunities come with these obligations.
Becoming a Skilled Technician
Earning a license to become a professional engineer often enables an independent consultant, government engineer, or educator to become a professional engineer. It is a legal necessity for certain career projects, such as consulting, owning an engineering company, or overseeing a public works project, to work with an engineer with a PE designation.
Moreover, many federal, state, and local entities now mandate that only licensed trained engineers occupy higher-level engineering roles. Similarly, many states now demand that engineering teachers be certified in the field of education.
Professional Engineer Compensation
In addition to increased job benefit opportunities, the information shows that PEs appear to earn more on average than their non-licensed counterparts. Mechanical engineers with a PE license receive a median income of $133,000, about $16,000 higher than the median salary of unlicensed engineers, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
How to Become a Professional Engineer
While there are many advantages of a PE license, many of which can substantially advance the career of an engineer, it takes a lot of extra time and effort to obtain licensing, which can be daunting given the investment involved in obtaining an engineering degree in the first place.
Although the qualifications for professional engineering licenses vary on a statewide basis, with requirements and procedures decided by a state board, the process for becoming a professional engineer typically comes down to four steps:
- Candidates must become an engineering intern (EI) or engineer-in-training (EIT) after completing a four-year college degree from an ABET-accredited engineering school by passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) test. This is an eight-hour exam in most states that tests candidates on their knowledge of fundamental principles of engineering.
Successfully being an EI or EIT demonstrates that critical engineering principles have been learned by a person. Before graduation, engineering students can choose to take the FE test, but an EI or EIT can not be considered until they obtain their degree. There are several options available for exam preparation, whether you’re in college or have already graduated.
- Applicants must demonstrate qualifying engineering experience after successfully passing the exam by apprenticing for four years under a PE. Such engineering experience must meet clear requirements to be deemed “qualifying experience.”
Also, the job requires the State Engineering Licensing Board not only to demonstrate that the applicant is a technically competent engineer but also to demonstrate that the applicant demonstrates a wide range of professional features, such as autonomous decision-making and personal responsibility in design and applications.
- As each state has its licensing requirements, applicants must learn about the PE license requirements of their particular state. There is a website on each state licensing board that will include the required details.
- Finally, in most cases, the final step in obtaining a PE license is to complete the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam in the applicant state after acquiring years of eligible engineering experience.
The eight-hour rigorous exam tests the ability of the applicant to work competently in a specific engineering discipline. Specialties range from industrial engineering to nuclear engineering, to civil or mechanical engineering in various fields.
Earning a license is only the beginning for committed PEs, as many states require these practitioners to retain and enhance their expertise through continuing education and opportunities for professional growth.
Although the journey to obtaining a PE license is long, intense, and challenging, and it is a lifetime commitment to retain it, this credential provides engineers with a range of valuable opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.