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.
Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Examination
The FE examination is 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:
- Only a licensed engineer may prepare, sign and seal, and submit engineering plans and drawings to a public authority for approval, or seal engineering work for public and private clients.
- PEs shoulder the responsibility for not only their work, but also for the lives affected by that work and must hold themselves to high ethical standards of practice.
- Licensure for a consulting engineer or a private practitioner is not something that is merely desirable; it is a legal requirement for those who are in responsible charge of work, be they principals or employees.
- Licensure for engineers in government has become increasingly significant. In many federal, state, and municipal agencies, certain governmental engineering positions, particularly those considered higher level and responsible positions, must be filled by licensed professional engineers.
- Many states require that individuals teaching engineering must also be licensed. Exemptions to state laws are under attack, and in the future, those in education, as well as industry and government, may need to be licensed to practice. Also, licensure helps educators prepare students for their future in engineering.
FE Examination Study Materials
NCEES provides examination preparation materials, including the FE Reference Handbook. The handbook is the only reference material that will be available to you during the exam.
It may also be helpful to explore NCEES YouTube Channel to see demonstrations of what to expect on testing day and view ‘how to’ videos. Additionally, only a few calculators are accepted for use during the test, make sure yours is on the list here.
PPI provides additional study materials for the FE Exam, as does the Barnes & Noble North Campus bookstore.
Testing.org provides an analysis of PE exam pass rates.
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.
Quotes from Chemical 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
…I wanted to give you a heads up to let the seniors know BP is really pushing for PE’s now. It is not mandatory, but they are strongly encouraging it. I am due to take the FE exam in April, so I’m on my way. I wish I had just done it Senior year as I had planned, it would have saved some studying time, but at least BP will pay for the fees now. Anyways, I thought that this information might be useful for the students. Not sure if it is an industry-wide thing, but definitely within BP.From an alum who is a process design engineer working on a Sulfur Recovery Complex.
Being on the consulting side, all of us are encouraged and rewarded for obtaining a P.E. certification but as I talk more with many of my clients, I am finding out that many companies struggle to find P.E.s. I have had many companies and recruiters tell me that they really need P.E.s in their groups and are willing to increase salary offers to those who have it. As I’m sure you know, some schools require that all graduating students take the F.E., but ultimately it has to be the individual that continues on to pursue the licensure. Now that I’ve taken and passed both exams, I’m finding an importance in this licensure that I hadn’t previously realized…From an alum
Quotes from Civil Engineering Students
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