You have made the decision to become an engineer and have started down the path toward your dream. Congratulations! Now it’s time to make a second decision- the decision to follow the path to professional licensure.
Professional licensure can open more doors than your degree alone can. You will become more promotable and enjoy a higher salary than unlicensed engineers. Professional engineers (PE’s) can expect salaries 15% to 25% higher than those who are not licensed. Many civil and environmental engineering positions require the PE designation.
But, what does being a licensed professional mean?
Being a PE means you have passed two exams and proven to the public and your peers that you have fulfilled the educational and experience requirements needed to become a licensed professional. As a licensed professional you can offer your engineering services directly to the public. A license earns you a higher level of respect and credibility as well as the opportunity for a more diverse career.
Which exams do I need to take?
The first exam you’ll take is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Examination. This exam is typically the first step in the process leading to the P.E. license. It is designed for recent graduates who are close to finishing an undergraduate engineering degree. The FE is a computer-based exam that is administered year-round. Once you pass the exam, you are classified as an engineer-in-training (EIT).
Typically, after four years of professional experience you can take the second exam- the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Examination. Most PE discipline examinations are offered in both April and October, but some are offered only in October. After passing the PE exam and satisfying the requirements of your local board, you can use the distinguished P.E. designation.
What if I fail?
First of all, have some confidence! Historically, CIE students have passed the FE exam at rates above the national average. In most years, 70-90% of CIE seniors taking the exam have passed. If you prepare for the exam by studying in the months leading up to it, you are very likely to pass.
However, students who do not pass the FE exam may re-take the exam. There is no limit to the number of times a person may take the FE exam.
Starting in 2014, the FE has transitioned to computer-based testing (CBT). Registration is now open year-round and examinees may select the exam time, date, and location that works best for them. Results are received 7–10 days after the exam. If you plan to take the FE exam, make sure to sign up for a feprep account. You will gain access to free FE exam review tools such as a discipline-specific FE Study Schedule and self-diagnostic Assessment. For additional information visit http://ncees.org/exams/fe-exam/
What Does the FE Exam Cover?
The FE contains 110 multiple-choice questions. The exam appointment time is 6 hours long, which includes a nondisclosure agreement, tutorial (8 minutes), the exam (5 hours and 20 minutes), a scheduled break (25 minutes), and a brief survey. The FE exam is now offered in seven disciplines: Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Computer, Environmental, Industrial, Mechanical and other disciplines.