Professional Engineering Licensure

Learn more about Continuing Professional Competency (CPC) for Licensure. Find out about the eight areas that can be pursued to earn CPC credit.

Visit the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) for test dates for future years.

What is a PE?

A Professional Engineer (PE) is an engineer that has been licensed by a state. The license symbolizes that the engineer has completed certain training and has demonstrated a specific degree of competency in a field of engineering.

Why should I get a PE?

From a career management perspective there is one reason to get a PE—it may open the door to a job opportunity for you in the future.

Currently, there are some jobs that only a PE can do:

  • Only a PE can 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.
  • Some states require that individuals teaching engineering or engineering design courses are licensed.
  • If you are pursuing a career as a private practitioner, the PE designation could prove invaluable, and will be required if you advertise and provide engineering services to the public.
  • Some government agencies require that certain higher level engineers are licensed.

Looking at the issue from the perspective of a potential employer, if two or more candidates for a job are all equally qualified, but one has a PE, that candidate may stand out.

What is the process for becoming a PE?

The four general requirements for becoming a PE are:

  1. Graduation from an accredited engineering curriculum
  2. Successful completion of the Fundamentals of Engineering exam (FE)
  3. Four years of engineering experience
  4. Successful completion of the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam (PPE)

How can I prepare for the PE exam?

  • The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (the organization that administers the exam) offers study materials.
  • AIChE member Bob Katin, PE, offers a prep course -- both in person and by correspondence. Contact Bob at rakatin@pacbell.net.
  • Check out Great Lakes Press resources.

(The above are not intended as endorsements by AIChE.)

Do all states have the same requirements?

Most do—in order to aid reciprocity. However, several vary from the general pattern for local reasons. State-by-state variations are possible, because licensure laws are exclusively under the control of the individual state legislatures.

What if I want to be licensed in several states?

Most states allow an engineer licensed in one state to become licensed, without further examination, as long as the requirements of the state that originally granted licensure at least equal their minimum standards. The actual process, documentation, requirements, etc. can vary from state to state.

How do I find out what my state's requirements for licensure are?

To learn more about professional registration and CPC requirements in your state, contact your state's board of licensure. The following web sites have links to each state's board as well as other information on professional licensure.

Do I have to take courses in order to renew my license?

Currently, 19 states have Continuing Professional Competency (CPC) rules in effect for relicensure. Each state maintains their own requirements but they all follow the same general pattern—again for reciprocity. The general requirement is 15 professional development hours (PDHs) per year. PDHs can be acquired for several activities, including coursework.