Is a Professional Engineer License Worth It?
Engineering has taken center stage in today’s industry and workforce, with many choosing a career in engineering and looking into acquiring a Professional Engineer license. To make the most of a career in engineering, individuals interested in the profession should extensively research all schooling and certification choices, including whether to earn a Professional Engineering (PE) certification.
Many young technical professionals entering the future workforce, particularly engineering students ready to graduate, confront this issue. Both options have advantages and disadvantages; on the one hand, a PE license allows engineering professionals to develop their careers, but it is a rigorous and time-consuming procedure. Let us now look at a professional engineer (P.E.) license and why you should put in the effort to get one.
What is a PE License?
A Professional Engineering license is a certification that highlights an engineer’s adherence to higher standards. It is an indicator of dedication to integrity, hard work, 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 law requirements.
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.
6 Reasons Why PE 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 many 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.
Suppose one applicant has a PE license and the other has not. In that case, the company will prefer the former one, as having a license demonstrates your leadership and management capabilities and 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
A 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 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 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 a PE license.
4. Flexibility And Security
Licensure brings about a great deal of flexibility as it provides many 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 and 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, your PE license is valid across all the states, and you can work as a professional engineer in any of your desired states.
If you plan to move to a state other than the one in which you were licensed, you will 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 receive an immense amount of respect from the public and are also highly regarded by their peers within the engineering community. As a result, they are also recognized as the premier elites in the industry.
In addition, only licensed engineers can legally develop, sign, seal, and submit engineering drawings and plans. Also, only they can oversee work in the private sector or serve as a fully qualified expert witness.
How To Get a Professional Engineer License?
To get a professional engineer license, you need to follow the following 4 critical steps:
1. Graduate from an ABET-accredited Engineering Program
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 should demonstrate that the applicant is a technically skilled engineer and 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 must 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, and no loose paper is allowed.
Moreover, candidates can enroll themselves in PE Power Exam Preparation Course to better prepare for the PE exam. 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.
Percentage of Engineers with PE License
The National Society of Professional Engineers estimates the percentage of engineers with PE license at 20% in the United States. The proportion of engineering license is more significant for structural, geotechnical, and other Civil Engineering sub-disciplines.
Engineers must continue to develop their abilities by completing continuing education programs and clearing a relicensing examination every two years to keep their PE licenses. Many firms do not require engineers to get a PE license to operate in the engineering sector. On the other hand, having a PE license offers an engineer some crucial advantages, as discussed above.
Therefore, to fall into this group of individuals with engineering licenses is an honor and an inherent advantage. Having a license to be called a professional engineer gives you the confidence to stand out in the crowd and speaks volumes about your professionalism and commitment to hard work and continuous improvement via examination and education.
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.
Getting your professional engineer license shows your commitment to your profession and speaks volumes about your personality and character traits. It reflects how hardworking and focused you are and your passion for succeeding.
According to the National Society of Professional Engineers site: “Licensure is the mark of a professional. It’s a standard recognized by employers and their clients, by governments and by the public as an assurance of dedication, skill and quality.”
Therefore, to be recognized as a professional with excellence as standards of ethics and skills, it is recommended that you take your PE exam and become a licensed professional engineer.
To help you with the PE exam preparation, we suggest you check out the PE exam prep course by Wasim Asghar to guarantee your success in the exam.