How to Obtain a PE License Without a Degree?

We’re not going to beat around the bush – To obtain your PE license, you must have at least four years of experience working under the supervision of a professional engineer. States differ in how they define engineering experience, but in general: Experience should be in a major field of engineering and must be monitored.

However, it is true that you can obtain a PE license without a degree if you pass the FE and PE Exams and meet some other requirements. However, not all states in the United States permit you to work as a Professional Engineer without a degree.

To assist you, we’ll explain how to find out what your state board requires and whether you can become a Professional Engineer without a degree in this guide!

Steps to Obtain a PE License Without A Degree

The route that leads you to obtain a PE License without a degree includes the following five key steps:

  1. Check to see if the program you took was ABET-accredited
  2. Evaluation of an engineering degree that is not ABET-accredited
  3. Pass the FE Exam
  4. Four years of experience working under a professional engineer
  5. Pass the PE Exam

Let’s discuss each step in detail.

Step 1 – Check to see if the program you took was ABET-accredited

Before moving forward the first and most crucial aspect is to ensure whether your degree is accredited by ABET or not. To validate your program:

  1. Visit the ABET’s official website.
  2. Click on the “Search By Name” tab and choose whether you want to search by your institute or program. If your program is accredited, you may follow steps three through five.
Check to see if the program you took was ABET-accredited

If your program or degree is ABET-accredited, skip “Step 2” and jump to Step 3.

Step 2 – Evaluation of an Engineering Degree That is Not Accredited by ABET

If your degree or program is not accredited by ABET, you need to go through an evaluation drive to discover if your existing education or degree aligns with the NCEES® standards. You can check your state’s licensing board website to make sure you meet the mandatory criteria for evaluation. Find your state’s licensing board website by searching on Google with the search query “[Your State Name] Licensing Board”.

If you meet the criteria for evaluation, it is mandatory to complete the evaluation with NCEES®. The core purpose of the evaluation is to check if your existing degree or program fulfills the Engineering Education Standard of NCEES®.

The NCEES® Engineering Education Standard outlines a total of 96 credit hours including 32 hours for expert-level mathematics or fundamental sciences, 16 hours for general education, followed by 48 hours for engineering courses.

Follow the roadmap on the NCEES® Credentials Evaluations page to complete your evaluation.

For instance, the entire process failed to work in your favor and your degree or program cease to qualify for NCEES® evaluation. The only way left to receive a PE license is to earn a 4-year degree in the engineering program of your choice accredited by ABET.

Step 3 – Pass the FE Exam

After the successful completion of Step 2, you will be sharing the same PE licensing roadmap as those having ABET-accredited engineering degrees. Now you are on the track that leads you to become an engineer without a degree. At this stage, qualifying for the PE exam requires you to pass the FE exam; the first step to becoming an engineer without a degree. FE exam is a computer-based examination that can opt to attempt in four testing portals that are Jan to Feb, April to May, July to August, & Oct to Nov. You can appear in the FE exam thrice a year. The exam pattern is based on your engineering discipline. Before making your first attempt, it is recommended to get an understanding of the FE exam passing score, including evaluation criteria, success rate, results, etc.

Step 4 – Four Years of Experience Working Under a Professional Engineer

To obtain a PE license without a degree or ABET-accredited degree, you need to acquire four years or more years of progressive experience (depending upon the state). The progressive working experience involves a rich on-field working experience under the supervision of a PE-licensed engineer. The experience involves a gradual journey from dealing with simple assignments to more complex tasks with a high impact and critical nature.

Step 5 – Pass the PE Exam

Now you have almost reached the shore. Attempting a PE exam is the only thing that’s abstaining you from becoming a PE engineer without an engineering degree. The exam is obviously complex and nightmarish in nature, but you can easily crack it in the first attempt with consistency and a targeted approach. If you’re a first-time test taker, maybe go for the easiest PE exam to pass. Then again, it is totally up to your what discipline you prefer the most.

If you wanna know what happens after you pass the PE exam, make sure to read our separate detailed blog.

How to Make Sure If Your State Allows You to Become a PE Engineer Without Having a Degree?

Start by checking out your state’s engineering board requirements on its website.

Simply, go to the NCEES® engineering exam registration page > Scroll down and select your state > Find the link to the website of your state’s engineering board. For instance “California”:

state’s engineering board requirements

You can also search on Google by making a query “[The name of your state] engineering board”. For instance, for California, type California Engineering Board.

Once you open the site, the next thing you need to do is explore some additional site pages to discover whether your state allows you to obtain a PE license without a degree (All sites are structured in different ways and some are more difficult to find the right information). For instance, on the California Engineering Board’s site:

  1.  Click on the “Applicants” tab. Then, click on the “PE/PLS Examination Flowchart” option as shown below:
PE/PLS Examination Flowchart
  1. Scroll down to the “Do I Qualify” section and hit the “HERE” link to see if you qualify for the PE Exam.
Do I Qualify Option
  1. In the new window, click on the “Apply for a Professional Engineer License” option.
Apply for a Professional Engineer License
  1. A PDF window will pop up like the one below.
way to obtain a PE license without a degree chart

The entire chart highlights the same roadmap that we simply described as a way to obtain a PE license without a degree. In simple words, the state of California recognizes the PE license and allows you to become an engineer without a degree.

Conclusion

Tactic without strategy is a noise before defeat. Even though having an ABET-accredited engineering degree makes it easier to get licensed as a Professional Engineer, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to become a PE without a degree.

As previously stated, all you have to do is go to your state engineering board’s website and research whether your state allows you to obtain a PE license without a degree. If your state does not, look into other states with less stringent requirements to see if you can obtain a license there.

So what are you waiting for?. Shuffle your priorities, design a practical strategy, and follow it with consistency to lock success in your PE exam.

wasim-smal

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.