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Re: P.E. Exam Requirements

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Ted,

The answer to your question will be pretty much the same for all state
(with some rather major exceptions, such as California) but IT can vary
from state to state.  You will want to check the requirements with the
state board in which you wish to be licensed or registered (the term
licensed vs registered varies from state to state...but I won't delve any
further into that).

For most states, the process to become a licensed (or registered) engineer
is as follows:

1) Obtain 8 years of experience.
   - At least 4 years of "experience" must be in the form of graduating
from an ABET (or equivalent) undergraduate ENGINEERING program.
   - You gain an additional year of experience for a Masters and another
year for a PhD (even though your PhD would likely take 3 to 5 years to
complete, you only get a year of experience for it...at least in
Michigan).
   - typically this means that you must obtain at least 4 years of
experience in the "real" world (i.e. working).  This work experience
typically must occur under the supervision of a licensed engineer (or
equivalent).

2) Take and pass the EIT exam.

3) Take and pass the PE exam.

4) Shell out some dough for the application process and exam fees...

Some notes for the above...

- you will note the phrase "or equivalent" when talking about an ABET
undergrad program.  This basically means that if you graduated from a
non-US school (although I believe a few Canadian schools are ABET
accreditted), you can still get your PE license.  You just have to prove
to the board that you covered the same material as an ABET program in your
school.

- You will note that the undergrad degree must be in engineering.  I
believe that some state will allow someone with an engineering technology
degree to get a license but they must have more than 4 years of work
experience.  Could be wrong on this one...

- You will also note the phrase "or equivalent" when talking about working
under the supervision of a licensed engineer.  Some states have this
clause for those people who work under someone who is not licensed but
would otherwise be licensed except that the industry they work in doesn't
really encourage or require it.  A good example is the auto industry.
Most engineers that work for the Big 3 probably don't even know what a PE
is.  However, some mechanical engineer may want to someday switch from
designing cars to designing HVAC systems...then that PE license may become
more valuable.  This allows that person to still use all the car company
experience for the application to the PE exam.

- There is at least one state that I am aware of that have major
differences to the above.  That would be California.  I belive that they
only require 2 years (or is it 3?) of experience after undergrad.  Also,
California requires a seismic and surveying test in addition to the
standard PE exam.

Now, with regard to your last question...that potentially can vary from
state to state depending on how "tightly" the PE law was written.  I will
speak with my knowledge of Michigan's PE act.  First, Michigan does not
actively track which "field" you are in.  Basically, that means that as a
PE in Michigan the law theoretically allows a civil engineer to seal
mechanical engineering drawings.  This of course would not be prudent or
ethical if mechanical eningeering is not your area of expertise.  The
state of Michigan DOES keep on record which exam you took to get the PE,
so they DO have the potential to discipline someone who practices outside
there area.

This leads us to your actual question...could you work under a non-civil
(or structural) PE but still use that experience to qualify to take the PE
exam so that you could get you PE to practice civil or structural?  I have
to be honest...I am not sure.  From a purely technical, letter-of-the-law
point of view, I believe that in Michigan that you might be able to use
that experience.  However, I would suggest that you should not use such
experience to qualify for the PE exam.  I guess it depends on what the
experience is...

For example, if you are working for a mechanical eningeer who is a PE and
you are doing finite element analysis and the mechanical engineer does FEA
for a living, then that experience would be relevant for getting your PE
as a structural engineer.  After structural engineers are not the only
engineers that use FEA.

However, if you are working for an electrical engineer who is a PE and you
are doing actual electrical engineering work (i.e. to "pay" the bills
until you could find a job in your field) then that experience would not
be relevant.

Ultimately, the best advise that I can give you is to contact your state's
PE board and ask them.  They will be the people who will review your
application and either approve you (or not) to take the PE exam.

Hope that helps,

Scott Maxwell, PE, SE


On Sat, 19 Aug 2000, Ted Conway wrote:

> I am all little confused on the requirements to become a registered
> P.E.  I know that the EIT is required and then the PE exam.  What about
> the rquirement of working under another PE for some length of time?
> Does this person have to be a PE in the same field?
> 
> Ted Conway
> 
> 
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