I passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam! Whoooooooooooo! I was so nervous when I received that e-mail from NCEES, I didn't even want to look at the results. To my surprise, I passed the FE exam that I took back in April!
So what does this mean? Well, right now, nothing. When I graduate, I can apply to the Texas Board of Professional Engineers to become a certified Engineer-In-Training. It's one of the very important steps in becoming a Professional Engineer.
Here are the rules for becoming a licensed PE in the state of Texas (after attending an ABET accredited university):
Type of Education: Accredited engineering degree (usually bachelor's)
Experience Required: 4 Years
Examination Requirement: Must pass FE, PE and ethics exams; may be eligible for waiver of FE exam with additional experience.
Reference Requirement: Three (3) references are required, all must be currently licensed P.E.'s. If requesting exam waiver, then five (5) references are required from currently licensed P.E.'s. The P.E. references not licensed in Texas must provide a copy of their current pocket card to verify licensure.
What good is a PE?
This description comes directly from the Texas Board of Professional Engineers website:
"Under the Texas Engineering Practice Act, only duly licensed persons may legally perform, or offer to perform engineering services for the public. Furthermore, public works must be designed and constructed under the direct supervision of a licensed professional engineer. The terms "engineer" or "professional engineer" can only be used by persons who are currently licensed. Anyone who violates these parameters is subject to legal penalties."
This list of reasons for setting the goal of earning a PE come from The Talley Group:
Somewhere near the end of your engineering degree program, you’ll have to decide whether to get your Professional Engineer (PE) license. You’ll have to decide whether you’re willing to put in the time: studying for and taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam; putting in roughly 4 years as an Engineer-in-Training (EIT) ; then studying for and taking the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam
It takes a lot of time and effort to get a PE license. Is it worth it? Read the following 6 facts and see if they help you make up your mind:
1. Your PE License Sets You Apart
The PE license demonstrates that you have the equivalent of a 4-year engineering degree, four or more years of progressive experience and a multidisciplinary understanding of physical and engineering principles. It shows that you have met all the standards required of the profession. For fields where the PE is preferred but usually not required, it gives you another opportunity to stand out.
2. Your PE License Generally Means a Higher Salary
According to the National Society of Professional Engineers’ 2010 Engineering Income & Salary Survey, the median salary of engineers without a PE license was $94,000, whereas the median salary of engineers with a PE license was $99,000 — a difference of about 5 percent.
3. A PE License Can Make a Difference in the Hiring Process
If a company has to choose between two qualified applicants, one with a PE license (or an EIT working toward his license) and one without, which one do you think it will choose? Companies typically hire based upon which candidate they believe will bring the most benefit to the company.
4. A PE License Gives You the Ability to Sign and Seal Plans and Drawings
Only a licensed engineer can submit plans and drawings, and be in charge of work in the private sector. These requirements lead to more responsibility for the licensed PE, and thus greater career potential.
5. You Can Only Officially Call Yourself an Engineer If You Have a PE License
If you don’t have a PE license, you—or your company—can’t officially call yourself an engineer in official documents, such as business cards, letterheads and resumes.
6. Having a PE License Means You Can Work Anywhere in the Country
Since the FE and PE exams are standardized nationally, you can work as a professional engineer if you transfer to another state. You would need to register with the board of engineering in your new state, and your new state may have additional requirements, but you can use your PE license throughout the US. And with the engineering profession now operating in an international environment, licensing may be required to work in, or for, other countries. You’ll be prepared if your career moves in this direction.
The website of the National Society of Professional Engineers might best summarize the situation: “Licensure is the mark of a professional. It’s a standard recognized by employers and their clients, by governments and by the public as an assurance of dedication, skill and quality.”
So, what do you think is the wise choice?
I've been told to begin the PE process either your senior year of college, or VERY soon after you graduate. It's so easy to forget the material you took those first (maybe fuzzy) semesters.
The FE exam is an 8-hour (no, there's no typo there) exam offered in April and October, broken into a 4-hour morning and a 4-hour afternoon session (separated by a MUCH needed hour lunch). The morning session is the same for everyone, regardless of discipline. It covers the following topics:
- Engineering Probability and Statistics
- Ethics and Business Practices
- Engineering Economics
- Engineering Mechanics (Statics and Dynamics)
- Strength of Materials
- Material Properties
- Fluid Mechanics
- Electricity and Magnetism
The afternoon session was categorized by discipline:
I took the "Other Disciplines" exam, which was structured similarly to the morning exam, but the questions were more in-depth.
If you are interested in earning your PE for ANY reason, please research the licensing process and register for the FE/EIT Exam! Even if you are unsure, take the first exam. You'll never know when you may need (or want!) your PE later in life :)