What Does It Cost to Become a Professional Engineer in California


Summary of the Variables That Determine the Time and Cost of Becoming a California PE

The assessment and licensing of your international degree as a Trained Engineer in California depends on several factors:

  • The completeness of your records of schooling and professionalism (the more documentation, the better)
  • The size of the difference between your degree in engineering and US requirements for accreditation
  • Your results and timing for the FE and PE licensing examinations
  • Your access to jobs that can provide you with the requisite qualifying experience
  • The spare time you spend and what you can afford to spend on license

To show some of the variety of outcomes that immigrant professionals can find when they try to become professional engineers in California, we provide two hypothetical scenarios. As two examples of several possibilities, please consider these scenarios. Your experience varies.

Career Benefits and Credentials

Non-licensed engineering professions are very appealing to foreign-educated professionals due to the variety of engineering occupations and the high number of positions that do not require licensing. To start your studies, here are just a few notes on in-demand qualifications or work titles. The Occupational Outlook Handbook will give you a better understanding of the duties in these and other engineering professions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Essential Links.

It takes a considerable amount of time, resources, and effort to prepare for licensing. To help them attain longer-term licensing targets, some professionals prefer to pursue lower-level positions in engineering. You can find some distinct benefits if you take a job with fewer obligations but with access to a supervising PE. These include the opportunity to develop job security, polish technical skills and adapt in a lower-pressure setting to the US workplace community, and to have more resources left over to concentrate on preparing for licensing examinations. With your boss, you can be frank about your long-term ambitions and be sure they understand how you can contribute to the goals of their business.

Entry Level Engineering Jobs

Computer-Aided Design and Drafting Detailer/Drafter-

Knowledge of CADD software is usually a prerequisite for this function, which requires the preparation of comprehensive drawings for engineering projects. 2 average years of education. 2010 nationwide median earnings: $47,880.

Project Management – Summary of Technical Qualification

You will want to consider applying for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute if you have previous project management experience and especially good communication and organizational skills. The PMP is a commonly accepted certification that can complement an engineering background, as both project expertise and mastery in technical specialties are required for many large engineering projects. Again, it is a way to work professionally in the engineering sector without having to hold a technical license if your soft skills prepare you for this kind of work.

Lead Construction Engineer

Civil or structural engineering qualified individuals can find that receiving certificates for construction management offers a way for you to specialize in the medium term and save money while still maintaining a critical position in your profession. When you have outstanding communication and organizational skills and have already served in this capacity in your career, construction management is a viable choice.

Professional LEED Qualification

Green building and certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) depend in part on systems, such as heating and cooling, that fall to mechanical engineers. Being accredited to evaluate LEED projects can be an interesting certification for an engineer with the right transferable skills, considering trends towards large-scale investment in environmentally-friendly construction and rehabilitation.

What Happens After PE Licensing

Setting up the industry

Once you are a Licensed Engineer in the state of California, if you intend to have your own engineering company, it is important to know that you must file comprehensive business records with the Board. This is done through a form of Organization Record. You must keep all records updated to ensure that in engineering business transactions, public health and safety are covered, including filing a Disassociation Form when you quit an organization where you were responsible for engineering projects.

Maintaining Your License

You must retain your California license once you are certified as a Practicing Engineer by renewing it with the Board every two years. The cost was 125 dollars in 2012.

To renew your license, California does not require you to log continuing education or professional development hours.

Join a Professional Organization

Professional development and networking opportunities are offered by state and national associations for professional engineers and structural engineers. They also help to set the industry’s appropriate working standards and provide policy knowledge and views in California and around the US. Their websites can provide useful guidance, including test preparation, for the licensing and examination process. However, their job networks are usually limited to licensed professionals. Once you have made progress in the certification process, you may want to join a group of practicing engineers or structural engineers.

State Specific Organizations

  • Society of Trained Ingenieurs of California

National Organizations

You will find a wide range of professional associations with membership-based not on licensed status but specialization discipline, type of work, industry, race, gender, or religion, even if you do not pursue licensing.

PE License Reciprocity

Some individuals from one state with PE licenses want to practice engineering in another state. The autonomy of the professional control of each state produces variations that complicate the mobility of licenses.

PEs from other states may qualify by comity (similar requirements) to work as Professional Engineers in California if they:

  • Show that their education and experience fulfill all California licensing eligibility requirements as a PE
  • In addition to their current license, apply for and obtain a California license

Conversely, when California PEs choose to operate in other states, they need to study and comply with their destination state’s licensing rules, which can often be less restrictive than the regulations of California. In any case, as their organization crosses state borders, certain employers see the importance of assisting their engineers with licensing versatility.

Temporary Authorization to Practice Civil and Structure Engineering

If they hold a valid license here, civil engineers whose company is based in another US state or even in a foreign country can apply for a Temporary Authorization to perform engineering work in the state for up to 180 days per year, if it is for just one project. A take-home examination and an appointment with the Board to discuss the project and the credentials of the applicant are part of the process.

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