California Professional Engineering Licensing Criteria


California Professional Engineering Licensing CriteriaCalifornia Professional Engineering Requirements

The licensing procedure for a California Licensed Engineer has the following steps:

  1. Register for and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE)
  2. Apply for and receive Engineer-in-Training Certification
  3. Accumulate 6 years of qualifying experience
  4. PE licensing application
  5. Pass PE exams (plus California Civil exams if civil engineer), receive license

Step 1 – Registration and Passing the FE Exam

The first step towards becoming a licenced technical engineer in California is to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering Exams of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) (FE).

The FE Exam is a national examination that is taken in their senior year or shortly after graduation by most US engineering students from accredited programs. The FE is sold annually in 5 locations across California in April and October. Each candidate must register on the NCEES website for the FE Test, pay the NCEES examination fee and take the FE. In the Tests portion, the FE will be explained in more detail.

Examinees who pass the FE exam will then transfer to stage two and apply for a certificate to be given as an Engineer-in-Training to the California Board.

Step 2 – Applying for Engineer-In-Training Certification

The next move is to apply for Engineer-in-Training (EIT) Certification after passing the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE). In order for California to qualify for EIT Certification, applicants must:

  • Have engineering-related job experience for three years or more anywhere in the world
  • Never been convicted of a crime connected with the practice of engineering
  • The NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) has previously passed

Note: foreign-educated practitioners do not apply for the exam in many other states until their qualifications are checked (most often by CPEES, the Center for Professional Engineering Education Services). This, for California, is not the case. For your application for the Fundamentals of an Engineering test, no educational documentation is needed, but the Board has the right to ask for it. For highly qualified engineers, one downside to this method is that when it is time to demonstrate qualifying experience for your Professional Engineer certification, you earn little credit for your international education.

Your bundle of applications should include:

  • Application form (see Important Links section)
  • Charge of $50, payable to the Consumer Affairs Department
  • A stamped, self-addressed postcard (it will be mailed to you to confirm receipt of your application)

If accepted, you will then be designated by the state of California as an Engineer in Training (EIT). In the Important Links section, you will find more detail.

Step 3 – Accumulate 6 Years of Suitable Experience

Your first legal technical designation in engineering in the State of California is Engineer-in-Training (EIT). Before progressing to the next level of licensing, all EITs need to gain 6 years of qualifying experience.

USING Expertise in pre-immigration

International education: Even though you have an advanced degree in engineering, these 6 years will cover a maximum of only 2 years of your foreign education. The Board demands sealed transcripts or notarized copies, and any records not in English require notarized translations, and you must follow clear guidelines about how to record your education.

Your international work experience may qualify for the remaining four years of experience, but only if you are able to record that you have worked under the supervision of an engineer who has practiced lawfully in the country where you worked (that person was either licensed nationally or worked in a field that did not require a license).

Gaining qualification experience through our work

If you are unable to record four full years of qualifying experience, you will need to obtain the remainder of your experience at a US workplace (there are some options for activities like studying or teaching as well). You will need to work with a legally practicing engineer (either a licensed or exempt engineer) and supervised engineering tasks will have to be included in your job.

Several tips:

  • Check for jobs with a skilled engineer on staff in a business or other workplace and get permission for the engineer to participate in your program.
  • You will need to log your work for the PE and receive his or her recommendation to reach the Board of California for
  • Qualifying experience requirements for Licensed Engineers and Land Surveyors (BPELS)

Your exact job description is not relevant; you just need to work for an increasingly accountable legal engineer.

If you change employers and/or oversee PEs during this four-year period, all PEs must send paperwork to account for the full amount of qualifying experience.

Documentation for the knowledge of work

To log all of your qualifying work, California needs you to use the Engagement Record and Reference Form (see Important Links). If this experience was in a foreign country or if you worked in the US to earn it, it does not matter. For information about the total number of references you need, the particular practitioners are eligible to complete them, and what parts of your experience qualify, it is important to read the directions carefully.

If you remind the individuals who will be the sources of your exact duties and other details about your job, it will be beneficial to make sure that the reference represents your complete experience. Note also that reference forms request the supervisor’s views on your results. Such documents would then be sealed. Since a bad review can harm your case, first discussing the form with the reference is a good idea to make sure that this reference will be positive.

Send it along with the application in Phase 4 to BPELS for approval once you have collected all the documentation.

Step 4 – Submitting the Professional Engineer Application

If you are eligible to take your PE test will be decided by your licensing application. It could include:

Application for 2 pages (this form must be typed and signed and also include your Social Security number or Taxpayer I.D.)

  • All work experience reports (Engagement Record and Reference Forms which must be sealed and marked by the people giving you the references)
  • All educational experience documents (transcripts, translations, etc.) if you are using your international education for 2 years of credit experience.
  • 2 stamped postcards sent to you (the Board will mail the first postcard to confirm your application was received and the second to inform you when your application review is complete)
  • Your replies to the State Laws Take-Home Review and Rules of the Board (see Tests section)
  • $125 fee (check or money order to “Consumer Affairs Department”)

Note on deadlines: A full application must be received by the Board with all things below almost 4 months prior to the Technical Engineer review date you wish to take. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your deadlines, because, depending on the specialty, PE examinations are only given once or twice a year.

In the Essential Links section, all links are available for application information.

If all of your documents are in order, a notice of permission to register for the PE exam will be issued to you. You will also apply for the two additional California tests required for civil engineers while you are a civil engineer.

Step 5 Pass PE Exam

California Seismic Design ExamOnce you pass the PE exam, you will receive your professional engineer license from the State of California. Civil engineers must also pass the California seismic exam.

In the next portion, the PE exam will be addressed in-depth, as will the extra exams unique to California civil engineering.

You will be certified as a Practicing Engineer in the state of California after you have passed these tests. For specific details on the conditions for keeping a license, please refer to the Beyond Licensing section.

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