What Is the FE Exam & Why Is It Important for Getting a PE License

Want to become an engineer but don’t have a clue about what is the FE exam? You are at the right place.

The FE exam is the first step to becoming a licensed Professional Engineer and legally use the title “engineer” before your name in the US.

The students can take the fundamentals of engineering (FE) exam either in the final year of their college or right after graduation.

In this article, we bring you a comprehensive guide on the FE exam and how it can help you excel in your engineering career, as well as the most pressing questions in your mind about it.

Let’s get started.

What Is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam?

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is the stepping stone to obtaining the PE license and becoming a professional engineer in the USA,

The FE exam, also referred to as the engineering in training exam, was developed by the NCEES® to evaluate the technical proficiency demanded in the engineering sector.

The engineering FE exam is six hours long, administered all year long at Pearson VUE testing facilities, and is centered on a computer-based testing format.

There are two portions, the morning and the afternoon, each with roughly 55 multiple-choice questions paired together for a total of 110 problems.

In addition, there are four possible answers to the questions, and one must select the correct response displayed on the screen within the allotted time.

During the exam, you are given a PDF with formulas and tables that you can use as a reference throughout the examination, and you are only permitted to bring an approved calculator.

Why Should You Take the FE Exam?

Taking and clearing the FE test has various advantages. The possibility of obtaining a high-paying position in your sector of interest is probably the most evident benefit. Many engineering recruiters make it very apparent in their job advertisements that passing the FE exam is a crucial requirement. Acing the Engineer in Training exam can give you an edge over other applicants, even if your prospective hiring manager does not mandate it.

As discussed earlier, passing the FE exam is the first step to becoming a professional engineer. Professional engineers have the authority to sign and seal official engineering papers. They also have a higher probability of securing supervisory roles than their counterparts without licenses. Professional engineers are regarded by their local engineering board as having met the minimal competency standards considered essential for the community’s safety. They serve in various industries, such as production, utilities, automotive, and aerospace engineering.

What Happens Next After You Pass the FE Exam?

After clearing the FE exam, you can submit the application for your engineer-in-training (EIT) certification in your state. You can then move on to the last step, taking and acing the PE exam.

Typically, an EIT must earn four years of work experience to be able to sit for the PE exam. However, you may be able to take the PE exam before you’ve had four years of engineering experience in certain states, including Kentucky. Still, your official license won’t take effect until those four years have elapsed. Therefore, taking the PE exam immediately following the FE exam might be beneficial because the content is still fresh in your mind.

We have a separate blog on what to do after passing the FE exam. So you can head over to that for further information.

Will I Get a Raise in Salary if I Pass the FE Exam?

Will your salary get increased by clearing the engineering FE exam? It depends.

Given that you are not yet an EIT, your manager may delay awarding you a raise. Passing the FE test will therefore increase your income as a civil engineer because you won’t be barred from receiving a promotion if you don’t do so.

It depends on how much your manager regards clearing the FE if you are a chemical, mechanical, or electrical engineer. In contrast to civil engineering, other engineering disciplines are not required to have aced the FE exam before their debut day on the job. However, passing the FE exam will make a good impression on your supervisor and perhaps speed up the process of getting you promoted, which will result in you earning a higher salary.

When Is the Right Time to Take the FE Exam?

Any student who has earned an engineering degree can sit for the FE exam, which they can do at any time during or following their final year.

However, most instructors advise taking the fundamentals of engineering (FE) exam right after graduation. Numerous individuals might not think it’s the most sensible option, but the reason is obvious. A fresh graduate is knowledgeable in several areas and has just finished taking tests.

Waiting some years before taking this examination increases the likelihood of forgetting some information and makes studying harder than it would be for someone who just graduated.

All in all, the perfect time to take the FE exam would be shortly after graduation or around the end of your final year.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1- What is the FE exam good for?

Taking the FE exam is good for various reasons, such as higher salary, greater job prospects, and demonstrating your high level of competence and ambition to prospective employers. In addition, passing your FE exam distinguishes you from other engineering graduates when you apply for jobs or graduate programs.

2- What does the FE exam consist of?

The FE exam consists of the majority of subjects found in an undergraduate engineering curriculum. It includes 110 problems and comprises two sections, the morning and the afternoon.

3- Can anyone take the FE exam?

Yes, anyone who holds an engineering degree or in a related discipline or is presently studying in the final year of an engineering degree program that has been certified by the ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) is eligible to take the FE exam.

4- Is FE required for PE?

Yes, passing the FE Exam by a minimum score is the fundamental eligibility requirement for appearing in the PE Exam and securing a license.

However, you may be entitled to register solely for the PE exam without undertaking the FE exam in some states if you possess a minimum of 12 years of engineering experience approved by the PE board.

5- Do you need to pass the FE exam to get a job?

Passing the FE exam is not a prerequisite to landing an engineering job. However, an FE pulls you towards better compensation, advanced job roles, and projects because you are more qualified to perform specific responsibilities and tasks. Otherwise, you can easily get an engineering job and do well in your career without taking an FE Exam.

6- Can I take the FE exam after graduation?

Yes, the FE test may be taken at any point during or after graduation. However, it is advised that you take the FE test during your senior year or soon after, as it includes content that is fresh in your mind while you are still a student.

7- Do you have to take the FE to be an engineer?

No, taking the FE exam to become an engineer is not necessary. However, taking and passing the FE exam can provide many benefits, like increased income, better employment opportunities, prestige, recognition, etc.


This is all you need to know about what is the FE exam.

Remember that there is never a perfect moment to take the FE exam. The decision is yours. When deciding when to take the FE exam, consider all the aspects you believe are essential. After all, it pertains to your professional growth and engineer license.

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.