The P.E. License – Top Five Questions Answered

Answers to your top five questions about the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

NCEES is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing professional licensure for engineers and surveyors. That’s great, but what does that mean for you? To put it simply, we create, administer, and score the national engineering licensing exams, better known as the FE and PE exams.

1.  Question: What are the steps to becoming a licensed professional engineer (P.E.)?

Answer: In the United States, licensure for the engineering profession is regulated by each state. While each state licensing board has its own laws regarding engineering licensure, there is a general three-step process for licensure candidates:

Education – Generally, engineering licensing boards require P.E. candidates to have an EAC/ABET-accredited bachelor’s degree. Check the requirements of your state licensing board. Each state licensing board has varying educational requirements.

Exams – Licensure candidates typically must pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

Experience – Most states require four years of acceptable, progressive, and verifiable work experience in the industry.

2.  Question: Why take the FE exam? Licensure isn’t required in my discipline.

Answer: “I took the FE exam in college. I didn’t want to, but my university required us to take the exam. I thought I was never going to be a P.E. with my industrial discipline. In hindsight, I’m glad I did. You never know where your career will take you and having that P.E. gave me credibility among my peers.”

Amy Greer, P.E.
Principal Simulation Engineer

3.  Question: Why should I pursue professional engineering licensure?

Answer: A 2015 survey by the American Association of Engineering Societies shows that professional engineers earn more than unlicensed engineers. Within the first five years, professional engineers average a 15 percent higher salary per year than their unlicensed peers.

4.  Question: After taking and passing the FE exam, I still have to pass the PE exam to be fully licensed. How will that help me now?

Answer: “After I graduated and passed the FE exam, I wanted to go into substation design. I had experience in substation design, but no substation coursework during my masters. What I had was the E.I.T. (Engineer-in-Training) designation. I could show potential employers that I was serious and on the path to licensure, which allowed me to get my foot in the door.”

Renee Daniel, E.I.T.
Protection Control Engineer

5.  Question: How do you register for the FE exam?

Answer: The FE exam is a computer-based exam administered year-round at NCEES-approved Pearson VUE test centers. Register for an FE exam by creating and logging in to your MyNCEES account and following the onscreen instructions.

This content has been contributed by NCEES as as part of a promotional digital content program.

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