From prestige to a great salary, there are definitely a lot of perks of becoming a certified professional engineer. A Professional Engineer (PE) license requires a four-year engineering degree as well as four or more years of progressive experience under a professional engineer (in most states).
It also requires a multidisciplinary understanding of physics and engineering principles, as demonstrated by a competency examination. Once you have obtained a license from the licensing board of your state, you must continually maintain and improve your skills to retain the permit.
Since a PE license is not a requirement for many engineering jobs, recent engineering graduates often wonder whether it’s worth the amount of work it takes to become a PE. Up next we’re going to tell you what the benefits are of becoming a certified professional engineer.
Overview of the Job: Getting the Certificate
In some fields of engineering, such as electrical engineering, a PE license may be preferred but is not necessarily necessary. However, there are several advantages to holding this license, even when it is not mandatory for employment.
Near the end of your university engineering program, you are faced with a choice of whether to pursue the Professional Engineering (PE) license by taking the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) or skip the exam and just be a regular engineer.
If you take the FE exam and pass it, after approximately four years of progressive experience as an Engineer-in-Training (EIT), you face another choice as to whether to take the Engineering Principles and Practice Exam (PE Exam) or pass the opportunity again.
Rationalizing the non-pursuit of the PE license is easy. You may think you ‘re too busy at work, training would take away your personal life, or if your company doesn’t need the license, the effort won’t be worth it.
Perhaps all those reasons are valid. Most people need a lot of research to train for those two eight-hour exams. And for someone to work in the engineering field, many companies do not require a PE license. But the excuses ignore one undeniable truth: the real power of the PE license.
As an overview, the following are important steps in becoming a certified professional engineer.
- Graduate from an ABET-accredited engineering program.
- Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.
- Work as an engineer for four years.
- Pass the Professional Engineering (PE) exam (you cannot take the PE exam without first passing the FE exam).
Benefits and Perks of Becoming a Certified Professional Engineer
When you finally earn the right to call yourself a PE, your status will set you up for success. Those who hold a PE designation are highly respected in the engineering community, which understands all of the work it takes to gain PE status. Only a certified professional engineer can call themselves PE.
During the hiring process, a PE license can serve as a deciding factor. When a company chooses between two equally qualified applicants, the only difference is that one has a license, and the other doesn’t. The hiring manager is more likely to choose the licensed candidate.
Licensing enhances your standing, but it also highlights your leadership potential and demonstrates a more significant commitment.
A High Salary
According to payscale.com, the average salary of certified professional engineers is $78,000, with some of those in the median area also earning up to $111,000. A non-certified engineer has an average salary of $66,000.
A Sense of Authority
Having a PE is a requirement for many engineers to go ahead and gain greater responsibility. Only a licensed engineer can sign, seal, and submit plans and drawings, supervise private sector work, or serve as a fully qualified expert witness. Many government agencies and academic institutions stress the value of a license for PEs.
The Official Title
You can’t officially call yourself a professional engineer without a PE license. You’ll need to register as a PE if you ever decide to work for yourself as a consultant. And as early as 2017, Oregon had a statute regulating who could call themselves engineers.
Flexibility and Job Security
During industry downsizing or restructuring, a PE license will provide more excellent job protection. It can also extend your career options beyond the traditional business environment by allowing you to start your own business. A PE license is a prerequisite for being an engineering consultant.
Since the PE and Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exams are nationally standardized, qualified engineers can work in any state they choose. A licensed engineer must register with the state’s engineering board and may need to meet additional requirements.