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What Is the Difference Between the FE Exam and EIT? [EIT vs. FE]

What is the difference between the EIT and FE? What do these abbreviations all mean?

If you have just stepped into the engineering world to embark on your journey to becoming a professional engineer, you may find it hard to comprehend these often interchangeable acronyms. 

To cut it short, FE stands for Fundamentals of Engineering, whereas EIT is an abbreviation for Engineering in Training.

Though there are no significant differences between the EIT and FE, it still seems challenging to grasp the concept behind these terminologies, especially for newbies.

That’s why, in this article, we will define these terms and thoroughly compare the EIT vs FE in terms of educational requirements, average salaries, and employment prospects.

So without wasting any more time, let’s dive into this article.

What is the FE Exam?

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is one of the two examinations you must clear to obtain your professional engineer’s license. It is a six-hour exam that assesses your knowledge of the core engineering principles of your field.

The FE exam consists of two test portions, morning and afternoon, containing 110 problems.

It is a closed-book exam based on a computer-testing format and is administered by the  National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES®).

The FE exam can be taken in any of the following seven disciplines:

  • FE Chemical
  • FE Civil
  • FE Electrical and Computer
  • FE Environmental
  • FE Industrial and Systems
  • FE Mechanical
  • FE Other Disciplines

If you are on the fence about which FE exam you should take, consider reading this blog to gain clarity and make a better decision.

What is Engineer in Training (EIT)

Engineering in training or EIT is one of the most widely known titles or certifications in the US. It is awarded by the state government when you pass your FE exam, also known as the engineering in-training exam.

Earning the EIT certification doesn’t reward you with extraordinary legal benefits though. It only demonstrates your command of engineering fundamentals and readiness to take on more complex challenges.

Moreover:

It lets companies and organizations know that you have cleared the FE examination and are on your road to getting a PE license to become a licensed engineer.

You can check out our detailed article to learn how to get an EIT certification.

Average Income of EIT vs. FE

Regarding the salary comparison, FE certificate holders typically earn substantially higher than those with EIT certifications.

It is because:

The responsibilities of FE license holders can be slightly more challenging than those of EIT certificate holders.

On the other hand:

It is comparatively convenient for EIT holders to balance their personal and professional lives as their duties and tasks are relatively more manageable and not that tough.

So:

On average, the average salary of an FE engineer is $87,912 per year in the United States.

Entry-level FE engineer jobs have a starting salary of $76,000 per year, while the most experienced FE engineers earn up to $164,000 per year.

In contrast:

EIT certificate holders have an average annual salary of $60,539 per year in the United States. Entry-level EIT engineer jobs earn up to $57,000 per year. On the other hand, the most experienced EIT workers can make up around $182,000 per year.

However:

It is important to note here that the average annual incomes of the EIT vs FE engineers can differ depending on the engineering discipline they opt to work in.

For instance:

Electrical engineers don’t earn the same amount as mechanical engineers do.

Students who pursue electrical engineering can’t earn the same amount as those who choose mechanical engineering as their field of specialty. 

Educational Requirements of EIT vs. FE

There isn’t much difference if we talk about the educational requirements of the FE vs. EIT.

But:

There are a few additional steps to qualify for your EIT certification.

So firstly, let’s take a look at the educational requirements you need to fulfill to become eligible for the FE exam:

Most states require you to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree in engineering from an ABET-accredited institution to take the FE exam.

However:

Even if you don’t acquire a four-year engineering degree, some states like Arizona still allow you to take the FE exam if you possess four years of relevant engineering experience under your belt. 

In addition:

Few states, such as California, permit you to take the FE exam before completing your degree – in the final year of college or months before graduation. 

Now that we have gone through the FE exam requirements, let’s see what educational criteria you need to meet to earn your EIT title.

As discussed above, the requirements for the engineer in training exam are somewhat similar to that of the FE exam.

It means:

You must complete four years of college or university to obtain your engineering degree from an ABET-accredited program.

But:

You must pass the FE exam first to attain the EIT certification.

In addition:

Several states also necessitate you to earn at least four years of engineering experience after passing the FE exam

Then:

You will have to prove to your state licensing board that you have cleared your FE exam by filing an application. And that’s it! You will receive an email from your state board about whether or not you are eligible to earn your EIT certification.

Job Prospects of EIT vs FE

Earning your EIT certification requires fulfilling more requirements than the FE, such as passing the FE exam and acquiring four years of engineering experience.

That’s why:

EITs are more qualified and regarded as more competent than the FEs, achieving greater job prospects and landing higher-paying jobs.

But:

The employment opportunities for EITs are state-specific.

It means:

You will have to retake the EIT test and re-earn your EIT title if you migrate from one state to another.

On the other hand:

FE certificate holders get comparatively lower job opportunities and can primarily attain only entry-level positions in their chosen engineering field; however, they won’t have to re-earn their certification if they relocate to another state.      

Conclusion

The difference between the EIT and FE isn’t much. Simply put, you gain the title of Engineering of Training (EIT) after passing your Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination.

The FE and EIT certifications are essential steps to attaining your professional engineer’s license and becoming a licensed professional engineer (PE).

We hope this article made a fair comparison of the EIT vs FE and helped you clarify the difference between them.

If you want to read more comprehensive engineering-related articles, we strongly recommend you go through our blog section.

Wasim Asghar – P.E, P.ENG, M.ENG

Licensed Professional Engineer in Texas (PE), Florida (PE) and Ontario (P. Eng) with consulting experience in design, commissioning and plant engineering for clients in Energy, Mining and Infrastructure.

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