The highest standard of competence an engineering professional can obtain is their PE license. Your PE license informs your client that they can expect the highest quality of work from you and know that you have the professional skillset to do the job correctly. For potential and current employers, it signals that you are ready for a higher level of responsibility. The specific requirements to become licensed can differ from state to state, however licensure candidates tend to follow the same basic steps throughout the U.S. and its territories.
In most states within the U.S., engineers must complete a four-year college degree, work under a Professional Engineer for at least four years, pass two intensive competency exams, and earn a license from their state’s licensure board. Then, to retain their licenses, Professional Engineers (PEs) must continually maintain and improve their skills throughout their careers. Depending on the state in which a PE is licensed they will need to complete continuing education requirements.
Do the benefits of having your PE outweigh the long list of requirements necessary to acquire it? The short answer is, absolutely. A century ago, anyone could work as an engineer without proof of competency. In order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare, the first engineering licensure law was enacted in 1907 in Wyoming. Now every state regulates the practice of engineering to ensure public safety by granting only Professional Engineers (PEs) the authority to sign and seal engineering plans and offer their services to the public.
In addition to the responsibility of signing and sealing engineering plans, having a license is becoming increasingly more significant in regards to government and academics. 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. Multiple states also require that any individuals teaching engineering must themselves be licensed.Have more questions about what a PE is or how to obtain yours? Visit NJSPE.org