Professional Development

Preparing for a career after college includes exploring your interests and learning new skills beyond the classroom. Below are options Michigan Engineers can explore in order to enhance their professional skills.

Joining a student organization provides an amazing opportunity to advance your leadership, team development, technical skills, and engineering knowledge. You can explore which organizations might be a good fit for you by exploring Engineering Student Organizations at the link below.

Michigan Engineering Spire, an application enabling students to explore campus learning experiences and how they may relate to professional skill development, set goals for engagement, reflect on what they’ve learned, and document their growth. Spire lets you set goals for skills and competencies you want to build, find opportunities to experience and build those competencies, and track and reflect on your experiences in a central location.

Develop New Skills

Diversify Your Experiences
  • Consider job/volunteer opportunities unrelated to engineering that will allow you to build transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, organization, and leadership
  • Non-technical jobs and volunteer experiences can show your additional layers as an individual, while also demonstrating responsibility, timeliness, and your ability to contribute to an organization’s goals

Focus on Self Care

Some engineering industries recommend certifications to help you progress in your career. Listed are some common skills and certifications. Make sure to read the descriptions, do your research, and talk with engineers in your field as not all certifications apply or are needed for each industry.

You may also view common skills for each major in the Resource Library of Engineering Careers, by 12twenty

Professional Engineering License (FE/PE)


If you are planning to work in more traditional engineering industries, perform consulting work, or work for the government, you may want to consider becoming licensed as a Professional Engineer. Most state boards of licensing require that you:

  • Education – Graduate from a four-year engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) (accredited programs include: Aerospace, Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Computer, Computer Science, Electrical, Environmental, Environmental Health Sciences, IOE, Materials Science, Mechanical, Naval/Marine, and Nuclear Engineering BSE Programs)
  • FE Exam – Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination
  • Experience Complete at least eight years of acceptable engineering experience. Four years from BSE program count towards this and 1-2 years for MSE degree can also count.
  • PE Exam Pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) examination
  • CPC Hours Keep up to date with your knowledge, professional skills, and professional ethics through Continuing Professional Competency. This requirement can be met through coursework, conferences, paper reviews, mentoring, and other options depending on the state.

The FE Examination is a pre-requisite to take the PE Examination. It is a computer-based and offered at testing centers throughout the country. Pearson Professional Centers (Pearson VUE) is a testing company that has many testing centers, including one in Ann Arbor, MI, and offers the FE exam. To register to take the exam you will need to create and account through NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying).

The fee for the exam is $175.00 and is payable directly to NCEES through your MyNCEES account. 

Before you take the FE exam you will want to thoroughly read through the NCEES Examinee Guide. You can find the most up to date guide here. The guide is updated regularly so make sure you have the latest version before your begin preparations. 

Interested in learning more about the benefits of becoming a licensed Professional Engineer? The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) has put together a few points for you to consider:

FE Examination Study Materials

Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Examination

The Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam is designed for engineers that have at least four years of post-college work experience. You can find more information about your specific engineering discipline exam here. Make sure to look at your individual state’s board because each has their own timeline in which you may take the PE exam.

Quotes from Chemical & Civil Engineering Students 

The only regret I have in regards to taking the FE is that I did not take it sooner. I took it about a year and a half out of school and felt very prepared after spending about an hour a day for a month studying sections of the exam that I needed to brush up on. The U of M ChemE curriculum more than prepared me for the engineering related sections. The exam has changed in recent years to be longer, but easier- this means good familiarity with the exam equation book is just as important as studying the subjects. I got the study guide, equation manual and 2 practice tests, which can really add up, but I would say having at least one practice exam will really help you to prepare for the types of questions on the actual exam. Finally, don’t let the length of the exam intimidate you- it feels really short once you’re in there!
— From an alum who works at Black and Veach

I passed the FE!  They are encouraging everyone at work to take it and eventually go for our PE (as you told me the oil and gas industry is moving toward!), so I decided to go for it.  I probably over-studied, but I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing and I would pass. As I was preparing for the exam, I realized what a solid ChE education I got – it’s amazing how the concepts came back to me based on the great foundation I got in class.  I saved my textbooks and some notes, which actually came in handy – I was pleasantly surprised how helpful it was to look back at the notes to study from.  Also, the process econ class was by far one of the most useful classes for the FE (and for my job!), so take that class seriously!!
— From an alum who works at BP

If you are planning to be a civil engineer that works in the consulting side of the industry, getting your professional license should be your top priority for the first 4 to 5 years of your career. I took and passed the FE a few months after graduation and I am currently studying for the PE. Do not be afraid to ask your company to sponsor an online class to help you study for these exams. Consulting firms understand how valuable an engineer with a PE is, so they usually will help their younger engineers any way they can to pass these exams. My advice so far is to not wait!! Get signed up, get your study materials (Youtube is free and so helpful), plan a study schedule and stick to it. These exams can feel overwhelming to get started, but as a Michigan Engineer it’s nothing we haven’t seen or have handled before. I can’t wait to work with you future engineers! Good Luck & Go Blue!
From an alum who is a Transportation Engineer at Fishbeck

I took the FE exam shortly after graduating from my Bachelor’s degree. The curriculum at UM prepares you for well for the topics covered. In terms of resources, there are many materials online (YouTube and old practice exams) that I found helpful. I would recommend studying with only the reference handbook, your calculator, and pen/paper to simulate the testing environment. Make sure to also read through testing procedures, get lots of sleep, and pack everything you’ll need the night before. You’ve got this!
— From an alum who works at HNTB

Project Management Professional (PMP)


If you choose to go into project management in the future, the PMP certification may be of use. This certification is widely used across many industries including consulting. It consists of a 180-question exam to certify that you have skills in project leadership. Discuss with project managers in your field to see if this certification could be beneficial to you.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) & Analysis Softwares

If you are entering fields that create sketches using Computer Aided Design softwares, you may consider taking a class or becoming certified to enhance your skills. It is useful to be familiar with the softwares that you may use in industry. Certifications are not necessary, but can help document your skillset in this area. Three main softwares are available for student use at no cost.




Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)


Today, more buildings require LEED Certification for construction. If you will work with construction, structural engineering, or buildings, learning the fundamentals of LEED can be useful. As defined by the proctoring board for the exam, US Green Building Council (USGBC):

“A LEED credential denotes proficiency in today’s sustainable design, construction and operations standards. More than 203,000 professionals have earned a LEED credential to help advance their careers. Showcase your knowledge, experience and credibility in the green building marketplace as a LEED professional.”

Six Sigma


Six Sigma is a methodology to improve processes and is used in supply chain and manufacturing industries. Practitioners use statistics, project management, financial analysis, and quality management to improve current processes.

Learning the fundamentals of Six Sigma can help you in manufacturing and business industries. You may take courses and receive certifications, but learning about the methodology is also useful

Software Development

Software Development is a varied field. All of the certifications below may not apply to you. That said, here are some common certifications: