Overview of the Organization of Professional Engineering in California

Licensing Engineers in California

In the state of California, the California Board for Licensed Engineers and Land Surveyors (PELS) governs engineering practice.

California Professional Engineers (PE):

The major focus of this subject is the PE licensing process. A high standard of preparation, testing, and experience is reflected by the PE name. Being a PE gives you the full spectrum of California technical practice, including being eligible to apply on contracts in the state and selling engineering and design services.

In the following engineering disciplines, California licenses Professional Engineers: Agricultural, Chemical, Civil, Control System, Electrical, Fire Safety, Automotive, Mechanical, Metallurgical, Nuclear, Oil, and Traffic. Civil Engineering sub-specialties are known to be structural, geotechnical and soil engineers and have additional work criteria.

Out of the Normal Situations

There are several different working conditions in which you do not have to be certified to work as an engineer legally. In certain circumstances, exemptions exist for manufacturing, government, or military service.

A minority of US engineering program graduates become PEs; most use their training in positions that do not require licensing.

One warning: you must be careful not to continue calling yourself an engineer or providing design services if you quit exempt work; in these situations, PELS will fine individuals heavily.

Are There Alternatives to PE Licensing

Even for graduates of accredited US engineering colleges, the PE licensing process is complicated and takes years. This incorporates schooling, work experience, and success on examinations. If you can include proof of qualifying experience, your education and experience before immigrating can be counted at least partially against California licensing requirements.

Some individuals chose not to re-license themselves. In engineering, many difficult and well-paid occupations do not require it. In their fields of study, most graduates from US engineering schools continue to operate but never become PEs. Whatever you decide about potential job licensing, non-licensed positions are a way to re-enter the field in the US first.

A non-licensed role will help you and your career ambitions during this long-term phase if you want to become licensed in the future. Some employers also have training for qualifying applicants or pay their licensing fees.

Jobs in California Engineering

Licensing opportunities: in design companies that work in both public and private engineering ventures, PE’s are also working. To practice engineering, a design company is a corporation that must also be licensed under California law. A PE license is also generally required for complete engineering work for local and state governments.

  • A rise in regulations and, thus, in demand for licensed professional engineers is expected. As there is a small supply of licensed engineers, finding a job is reasonably straightforward.

Unlicensed opportunities: There is a market for eligible employees who are not licensed in California as PEs in any work involved in engineering. In particular, electrical and mechanical engineering can be done in California without a PE license in manufacturing, research and development, mining, and many other fields, including federal jobs. You could have “Engineer” in your job title if you find work in these areas without having to have a PE license. However, you must make sure that you still practice engineering lawfully while changing jobs, and do not switch into a position that needs licensing.

In certain cases, unlicensed positions occur to promote their work with skilled engineers. They can also provide good opportunities for important and well-paid jobs in these technical, advisory, and management roles. Titles for the job can include:

  • CADD Engineer (Computer-Aided Design and Drafting)
  • Expert Craftsman
  • Competent Project Management (PMP)

Some of these positions are listed in the Careers Related to Engineering section in more detail.

Finding an Engineering Job in California

It is probably a high priority for you to find work in your profession. For immigrant professionals in a difficult economy, the job market may be highly competitive.

  • Consider your non-licensed job skills and define target job titles to expand your quest.
  • You must search for a workplace that has a trained engineer available to supervise you if you expect to become certified. This will allow you to meet the licensing qualification that requires supervised work under a lawfully practicing engineer.
  • Consider moving the career quest beyond direct recruiting roles as well. You may want to suggest temporary placement through work agencies specializing in engineering-related recruitment. In various workplaces, they can give you contract opportunities, helping both you and the boss who can see your work without having a permanent commitment.
  • Research into small and medium-sized businesses that often do not advertise openings
  • In your fields of interest, join networking and professional development groups to make professional connections and upgrade your skills.
  • Wait before you are eligible to apply to technical societies for professional engineers in the licensing process.

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