What Is FE Exam & Why Is It Important For Getting A PE License

The FE Exam is one of the highly sought-after tests for any engineer based in America. It is one of the fundamental exams that open you to securing a license, and therefore, being called a licensed professional and opening your career path to greater opportunities.

Engineers in college often worry about the FE Exam due to the competitive playing field and the thousands of attendees taking the exams every year. In this article, we bring you a comprehensive guide on what is 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.

What is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam?

An American engineer who wants to practice as a licensed professional engineer must pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. The exam is typically taken by the final academic year of college, but those who have already graduated are eligible. Engineer in Training (EIT) or Internal Engineer (EI) certification is awarded to those who pass the FE exam.

The FE exam is given twice a year, in April and October, and there are no exceptions to this rule. After the last two semesters of school, students in an engineering or engineering science program at an ABET-accredited college or university can sit for the exam. Students in some states are automatically granted permission to sit for the exam, while in others, they must apply for the privilege. Approved applicants, such as graduates or those who have worked in a position that qualifies them for the exam, must fill out an application.

NCEES, the National Council of Surveying and Engineering Examiner, collaborated with FE exam candidates to create and deliver the FE test. Only a “Supplied Reference Manual of Engineering Fundamentals” is permitted for the exam as a reference tool. In addition to formulas and facts for each section of the exam, this manual also provides units and conversion factors for each unit of measurement. Students can use the handbook in advance to prepare for the exam. Test-takers are only encouraged to carry an approved calculator with them on the exam day; NCEES provides all other materials.

There are two four-hour sessions with a one-hour pause between the FE exam, which is administered twice. A total of 120 multiple-choice questions are asked in the general section of the exam, administered first in the morning. About 15% of math questions are in the general section, which is the most important topic. Nine to 10 percent of the test is dedicated to statics and dynamics, chemistry, electricity, and magnetism, respectively. The general section includes statistics, computers, ethics, engineering economics, and the strength of materials, properties of materials, fluid mechanics, and thermodynamics.

Examinees can select an exam module based on their engineering practice during the afternoon. It is possible to choose from seven different modules: chemical, civil, environmental, electrical, mechanical, industrial, and a general module that includes more in-depth questions on topics covered in the morning exam. The 60 multiple-choice questions in each module are the same.

The FE exam is graded on a pass/fail scale. Subject matter experts determine the “minimal proficiency” cutoff, and this score serves as the threshold for passing. It can take eight to ten weeks for test-takers to receive their results.

Why should you take the FE Exam? 

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about getting your PE license. You must pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam to obtain your professional license. If you pass the FE exam, you can choose to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam after about four years of experience as an EIT (PE exam).

  • You’ll be able to command a higher salary if you have a PE License
  • Having a PE license can make you stand out in the job market.
  • To sign and seal plans and drawings, you must have a PE license
  • Only those with a PE License can call themselves engineers.
  • You can work wherever you want in the United States (the FE and PE exams are standardized nationally)

What happens next after you pass the FE Exam?

The results of your FE exam will be emailed to you within 7–10 days of taking the exam. In your MyNCEES account, you can see the results. Pass or fail is the only option for the exam results. To receive your Engineering-in-Training certificate, you must submit an official copy of your final transcript. Depending on the board you choose to join, additional requirements may be required.

EI can be added to your job application, letterheads, cards, etc., after receiving your certificate. This certification indicates your status as a certified engineering intern. Engineer-in-Training (EIT) or Intern Engineer (IE) may be used in other states (IE). Consult the board to find out exactly what you’ve been assigned and whether or not you’re allowed to add it to your name.

Will I get a raise in Salary if I pass the FE Exam? 

Asking for a raise from your supervisor or company’s HR staff can be awkward because you don’t want to appear greedy.

If you’re an engineer, you’re likely to have this consideration in your head at some point. A major career milestone was reached due to your diligence in the classroom and the hours you put in at work. In addition, your license gives you the ability to have a greater impact on your company because you can now, theoretically, sign and seal operation plans and standards, which could significantly impact your company.

If you sign and seal official documents, you assume a great deal of additional responsibility and risk. The most important thing for you to know is whether or not your company’s liability insurance covers you, and even if it does, it may be in your best interest to purchase your policy. As soon as you get your license, you should seek legal advice. Liability insurance for engineers is widely available from a variety of professional organizations.

When is the right time to take the FE Exam?

For the most part, you can take this test at any time during or after your senior year. Because of this, you should take it as soon as possible so that your knowledge of the subject matter is still current. When you’re in your senior year, or just before you graduate, plan to take the FE exam. You’ll start to forget some of the information you need to know if you wait any longer.

Some people don’t like it, even though it’s the best option. As an alternative, consider these ideas:

To pass the exam, you might think that you need to have some experience in the field before doing so. While that may be the case, the more you focus on your area of expertise, the more you’ll forget about what you learned in school. The decision to take the test early is entirely up to the individual.

There are no restrictions on when you can take the FE exam. If you plan to take the FE exam, it is best to do so during your senior year or shortly afterward.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the FE exam good for?

To become a licensed professional engineer (PE), you must first pass the FE examination. Find out if you are eligible to take the exam by contacting the licensing board in your state.

What does the FE exam consist of?

An EAC/ABET, Inc. accredited bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for the FE exam. It adequately covers a wide range of engineering topics. For more information, please visit the NCEES website. Note: If you plan to major in chemical, civil, electrical, environmental, industrial, mechanical, or another engineering discipline, you must register for the appropriate FE exam.

Can anyone take the FE exam?

Students nearing the end of their undergraduate engineering degree should take the FE exam. It is common for students to take this exam at the end of their undergraduate career, but it can also be taken before or after graduation if desired.

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.

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

Getting an FE qualification is not a prerequisite to landing an engineering job. What an FE does is pull you towards better compensation, advanced job roles, and projects mainly because you are more qualified to perform certain responsibilities and tasks. Otherwise, you can easily get an engineering job and do well in your career without taking an FE Exam.

Can I take the FE exam after graduation?

There are no restrictions on when you can take the FE exam. If you plan to take the FE exam, it is best to do so during your senior year or shortly afterward.

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

To sit for the PE exam, a student or working engineer must first pass the FE exam and then complete four years of engineering experience. A professional engineer license is obtained by passing the PE examination (PE).


This is all that you need to know about what is FE exam, including the eligibility requirements, preparation criteria, career prospects, and the benefits of passing the exam to your engineering career. You have got something to add, you can share your thoughts in the comments 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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