What Exams Are Required to Become an Engineer in California
Fundamentals of Engineering Exam
For general engineering principles and other relevant engineering disciplines, the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) measures the expected knowledge of recent university graduates. It is also referred to often by its former name, the Engineer in Training Exam (EIT). The exam is conducted by the National Council of Engineering and Surveying Examiners (NCEES).
The FE test costs $125 and when you register for the exam, it is payable to the NCEES. When you apply for your Engineer-In-Training License, you must pay an extra processing fee of $50 to the California Department of Consumer Affairs (EIT).
The FE exam is offered twice a year, in April and October, but your application to the Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors must be received over 2 months in advance in order to apply in time.
For all test takers, the morning session is normal. In 12 subject regions, it has 120 questions. These are math; probability and statistics of engineering; chemistry; computers; ethics and business practices; economics of engineering; physics of engineering-statics and dynamics; material strength; properties of materials; mechanics of fluids; electricity and magnetism; and thermodynamics.
One 60-question module consists of an afternoon session. You’ve selected one of seven available modules. There are:
- Civil engineering: This module covers 9 subjects: surveying; hydraulics and hydrological systems; soil mechanics and foundations; environmental engineering; transport; structural analysis; structural design; construction management; and materials management.
- Other/general engineering: this module covers 9 subjects: advanced engineering mathematics; probability and statistics of engineering; biology; economics of engineering; application of engineering mechanics; material engineering; fluids; electricity and magnetism; thermodynamics and heat transfer
- Chemical engineering: this module covers 11 subjects: chemistry; material/energy balances; thermodynamics of chemical engineering; fluid dynamics; heat transfer; mass transfer; chemical reaction engineering; process design and economic optimization; chemical engineering machine use; regulation of processes; safety, health, and environment
- Electrical Engineering: 9 subjects covered by this module: circuits; power; electromagnetics; control systems; communications; signal processing; electronics; digital systems; computer systems
- Environmental engineering: there are 5 subject areas in this module: water resources; water and wastewater engineering; air quality engineering; solid and hazardous waste engineering; environmental science and management
- Industrial engineering: This module covers 8 subjects: engineering economics; probability and statistics; modeling and computing; industrial management; manufacturing and production systems; facilities and logistics; human factors, efficiency, ergonomics and nature of work; quality
- Mechanical engineering: This module covers 8 subjects: mechanical design and analysis; kinematics, dynamics, and vibrations; materials and processing; calculation, instrumentation, and control; processes of thermodynamics and energy conversion; fluid mechanics and fluid machinery; heat transfer; cooling and HVAC
Your expertise in a particular field of engineering practice, such as mechanical or civil engineering, can make it easy to choose your module for the afternoon session. However, especially if your test preparation time is limited, you may also want to consider general engineering. Its subjects are an extension of the subjects dealt with in the morning session.
All reference materials, such as formula sheets, for both morning and afternoon sessions, are given by NCEES. Test takers, however, need to have their own calculators, selected from the NCEES-approved list (See the Important Links section for more information.)
Tests: State Laws and Rules of the Engineering Board
On the Board website, this 25-question multiple-choice test is available and should be included in your PE license application (Step 4). It requires laws and procedures unique to California for the practice of engineering. By researching the California Technical Engineers Act and the Board Rules in-depth, you can learn this knowledge.
Principles and Experience Exam
The Engineering Exam Principles and Practice (PE) is an Engineers-in-Training exam. Under the supervision of a lawfully practicing engineer, the PE exam tests the theoretical and practical engineering skills you have obtained over a minimum of six years of qualifying education as well as work experience. For different specialties, NCEES, which administers the test, offers several distinct PE examinations.
The cost of your PE Test is not included in your PE Licensing application and it’s a $125 charge. The PE Exam costs $265 and when you register for the exam, it is payable to the NCEES.
California PE Exams – Type and Schedule
PE tests are issued twice a year in California, in April and October, for the engineering specialties of:
Other tests are only issued once a year, in October, for:
- Fire Protection
- Control System
Each PE test is 8 hours long, with a 4-hour morning and afternoon session.
Breadth Test: In an engineering discipline, the morning exam is called the Breadth Exam, which includes major practice areas or subspecialties.
The Breadth Exam for Civil Engineering PE, for example, has 40 issues covering five areas: construction; geotechnical; structural; transportation; and environmental engineering/water management.
Depth Exam: The afternoon session, called the Depth Exam, is an assessment that focuses on only one of the key practice areas covered in the morning session. You are able to select the area for the Depth Exam in which you want to be tested.
All reference materials, such as formula sheets, for both morning and afternoon sessions, are given by NCEES. Test takers must have their own calculators, selected from a list accepted by NCEES.
Special Exam for Civil Engineers – Seismic Engineering Survey Concepts
For civil engineers seeking to license in the state, the State of California requires two extra tests. These are both 21⁄2-hours long and both are given on the day after the PE Civil Test. For the preparation of these examinations, the Board of Trained Engineers and Land Surveyors has unique tools.
For all of the assessments used in California Skilled Engineer licensing, the Essential Links section has links to online documentation and test preparation tools.