Is a Professional Engineer (P.E) License Worth It?

Do you know why hiring someone with a PE (power) license is worth it? Because the PE license sets the individual apart from others and shows that a candidate has met all the standards of the profession and is at a higher level than the industry standard.

The PE license is the engineering profession’s highest standard of competence, a symbol of achievement and assurance of quality. It’s a standard recognized by employers and their clients, by governments and by the public as an assurance of dedication, skill and quality. It provides more opportunities for job growth, leadership, and income potential as employers place a high value on professionals who are licensed.

Moreover, the PE license has its acceptance all over the world. As engineering projects increasingly cross national borders, most countries require some form of professional licensing and will expect the members of the international team to be licensed in their home countries.

6 Reasons Why PE (POWER) License Worth It

Following are the six reasons why a PE license is worth it:

1. Allows becoming an independent consultant, government engineer, or Educator

Having a professional engineer’s license opens up a slew of career opportunities and financial benefits for growth and leadership. In fact, employers are most impressed with licensed employees and treat them differently, as they are the symbols of competency, professionalism, experience, and character.

If one applicant has a PE license and the other has not, the company will most probably prefer the former one, as having a license not only demonstrates your leadership and management capabilities but also indicates your dedication to your chosen profession.

Furthermore, licensure provides expanded opportunities beyond a company structure – it allows you to become an independent consultant, government engineer, or educator.

2. Is a gateway to federal, state, and municipal agencies jobs

PE license is incredibly significant and a must-have if you’re pursuing government level jobs. Because, nowadays, it is the utmost demand of most of the federal, state, and municipal agencies that higher-level engineering positions, that require a greater sense of responsibility, must be occupied by licensed professional engineers only.

3. Higher salaries compared to non-licensed counterparts

Employees with professional engineer’s license design more cost-effective and higher performing infrastructure than the unlicensed employees. For this reason, PE license holders have higher salaries as compared to their non-licensed counterparts.

As per reports of the Engineering Income and Salary Survey, conducted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in 2012, the average salary for a PE is $116,000, while that of a non-licensed engineer is $95,500.

In another survey in 2017, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) reported that mechanical engineers with a PE license earn a median income of $133,000, which is nearly about $16,000 more than those lacking the PE license.

4. Flexibility and security

Licensure brings about a great deal of flexibility as it provides a myriad of career options outside the traditional corporate environment by enabling you to set up your own business. Moreover, you can also become an engineering consultant, specialist, or private practitioner. You can go as far as your talent and hard work can take you.

In addition, a professional engineer’s license provides immense job security as the demand for qualified, licensed engineers continues to grow. It also protects you during industry downsizing or outsourcing.

5. Work anywhere in the United States

As the PE and Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exams with the minimum registration requirements have been set as a national standard, it means that your PE license is valid across all the states and you can work as a professional engineer in any of your desired state. If you plan to move to a state other than the one in which you were licensed, you will just have to register with the board of engineering in your new state and may have to complete any further requirements. But, all in all, you can utilize your PE license anywhere in the United States.

Related: Eligibility Requirements for The PE Exam by State

6. Prestige and Authority

As licensed professionals, PEs not only receive an immense amount of respect from the general public, but they are also highly regarded by their peers within the engineering community. They are also recognised as the premier elites in the industry.

In addition, only licensed engineers hold the authority to legally develop, sign, seal and submit engineering drawings and plans. Also, only they can be in charge of work in the private sector, or serve as a fully qualified expert witness.

How to get a PE License?

There are four key steps to get a PE license:

1. Graduate from an ABET-accredited Engineering Program

In order to obtain the PE license, the candidates must have to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited engineering school in relevant subjects.

2. Pass the FE Exam

After the completion of the degree, candidates have to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. The FE exam is a 6-hour long on-site computer-based exam consisting of 110 questions that test applicants on their knowledge of basic engineering principles. It is a closed book exam, meaning you are not allowed to bring in any reference material.

After passing the FE exam, you become an Engineering in Training (EIT) or Engineering Intern (EI). Obtaining the EIT or EI status indicates that you have grasped the fundamentals of engineering and are on your way to achieving a P.E. license.

3. Gain Experience

After passing the FE exam and becoming an EIT, candidates must complete progressive engineering experience by apprenticing under a PE for at least four years.  The work not only should demonstrate that the applicant is a technically skilled engineer, but also that the applicant displays a wide range of professional characteristics, such as independent decision-making and personal accountability in design and applications.

4. Pass the PE Exam

Finally, after gaining the appropriate engineering experience, the candidates have to pass another exam, the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE). The PE exam is an 8-hour long exam consisting of 80 questions that test the candidate’s competency in a particular engineering discipline. It is an open book exam, but everything must be bound, no loose paper is allowed.

Moreover, for better preparation for the PE exam, candidates can enroll themselves in PE Power Exam Preparation Course. This course is designed to prepare for the PE Power exam based on the latest NCEES® specification and it will allow you the flexibility to learn anytime, from anywhere. This course provides you with 50+ lectures and quizzes, and teaches you about theoretical concepts and how to solve PE-style problems.

Pass the PE exam

Image source: Unsplash

What is a PE License?

A Professional Engineering license is a certification that highlights an engineer’s adherence to a higher level of standards. It is an indicator of dedication to integrity, hard work, and creativity, and an assurance that the individual engineer has passed at least a minimum screen of competence. It is given to individuals to practice engineering in a particular state or U.S. territory after meeting all requirements of the law.

Furthermore, the PE license demonstrates that you have the equivalent of a four-year engineering degree, four or more years of progressive experience (in most states), and a multidisciplinary understanding of physical and engineering principles.

A century ago, anyone could work as an engineer without any training or proof of skill. So, in 1907, with the aim to protect public health, safety, and welfare, the first engineering licensure law was passed in Wyoming, that required registration for anyone presenting themselves as an engineer or land surveyor. Today, a PE license is highly respected, and sometimes a necessity.

Related: What PE Experience Is Required for the PE License

Frequently Asked Questions:

1- How do you study for PE Power?

The best way to prepare is by solving realistic practice problems. You need to be able to read a problem and figure out what it is asking, go to your reference material and find the equations you need, change units, solve for the variable of interest, and not make any math errors.  A key component is an ability to go find the info you need from your references quickly and efficiently.

2- How hard is the PE Power exam?

The perception of how difficult the PE power exam is different for everyone. The PE exam is full of unpredictability and one does not know what to expect. The exam is very exhausting as it requires you to stay focused for 8 hours. Moreover, there are multiple-choice questions that seem to have more than one correct option and confuses a lot of examinees.

3- How many hours should you study for PE?

It totally varies from person to person, but it is recommended to study for approximately 100-120 hours. A solid study plan that works for most engineers is to spend approximately one-half day each Sunday studying for the three months leading up to the exam and then studying every day for a few hours the week before the exam.

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.