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Re: NCEES/ licenses

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Title: Re: NCEES/ licenses is the NCEES Records program ( it is not really “centered” around their exams, but rather is meant to be program for your to “register” your licensing record (proof of other licenses and tests taken, proof of experience, proof of education, etc) that will “ease” the process of getting licenses in other states, assuming they accept the NCEES Records program.  Most will accept it all or some part of it ( Texas now fully accepts it, but Utah will not accept references and employment).  Note that it is NOT free, but if you plan on getting licensed in multiple states, then it is WELL worth cost to save on the hassle of having to repeatedly fill out basically the same paperworks...AND having to ask your employment verification people and general references from have to repeatedly do so as well.

As to getting more of a national system, maybe some time around the time you or I are pushing up daisies...and even then not to likely.  Getting licensing laws changed in ONE state is darn near impossible much of the time, let alone getting them changed in all 50 (plus the US Territories).  So, I would not hold my breath on that (unless you want to push up daisies sooner rather than later).  And it is not necessarily due just to people in the various states’ boards protecting their turf and is also a function of getting members of state legislatures to give a crap and fight the “entrenched” PE establishment in each state (especially if you start talking about adding an SE license in a state).

In theory, the MLSE (Model Law Structural Engineer) and SECB (Structural Engineering Certification Board) are attempts to create a national “standard” for SE licensing (or something resembling it).  The hope by some is that if there is a good process in place, then it will be easier for states to “adopt” that process (kind of like they adopt model building codes) as they method to get an SE license in their state.  The states could still be free to “add” onto that process to make it harder (for example if CA though that the exam requirements were not heavily enough on testing seismic for an SE license, they could add an additional exam requirement).  This idea has some merit, but it is still a HUGE, MAJOR uphill battle to get states that do not have an SE license to add it even with such “infrastructure” in place.

For all intents and purposes, all the states more or less use the same basic process to get a PE license...and have for quite a while.  To my knowledge, ALL states use the NCEES exams for the PE license, including CA (CA just adds to “special” state specific exams in addition to the NCEES PE exam).  For the overwhelming majority of US engineering graduates, they will go through the same process no matter what state they are in....a 4 year ABET undergrad degree (even if it actually took them about 5 or slightly more years as is the case with many these days), take and pass the NCEES FE exam, 4 years of experience, and take and pass an NCEES PE exam.  The most glaring exception to this is that CA only requires 2 years of experience.  Most likely 90% to 95%+ of US engineering grads (who get licensed) will go through this process...and have no problems (other than maybe passing the exams).  Where things start to diverge is when a) you are dealing with graduates of a non-ABET undergraduate engineering program (this can be graduates of foreign undergraduate programs, foreign engineers seeking comity, US graduates from “engineering technology” programs and other non-engineering grads, etc); b) you have rather picky definitions of when the 4 years of experience have to be completed by...or a non-4 year requirement (such as in CA); c) there are additional exams or requirements (such as many states that require some sort of take home exam on the PE law or ethics or some additional “special” education or exam such as Alaska’s requirement for a cold weather course; d) continuing education requirements (this will not mess up you ability to get the license, but can be a BIG issue for maintaining it); and e) whether or not your PE license means crap (in Illinois, a PE license does not get you SQUAT if you want to do structural engineering).  The end result is that if you graduated from an ABET engineering program (which most do) and you have 4 years of experience prior to even applying for your PE license, then you should have zero problem in ANY of the states getting a PE license by comity/reciprocity, other than taking some state specific exams and filling out the damn paperwork.  For someone practicing structural engineering, the biggest “hassle” other than filling out the paperwork will be dealing with those states that have an SE license and require that SE license of all (Illinois) or some (CA, WA, Utah, and potentially some others) structural work.


Adrian, MI

On 7/23/09 10:07 AM, "Andrew Kester" <akester(--nospam--at)> wrote:

I thought NCEES offered a service where once you pass their exams you can have them keep those results on file, as well as your personal refs and university transcripts and all of that, and they will send that package to other states for you (if those other states accepted NCEES exams)? Had anyone tried this? I guess if you received your license more than 5 years ago or so, you may not have taken the NCEES exam(s)? I hope it is a matter of time before ASCE/NCEES/etc get the state boards all on the same page, with some type of national registry like NCEES is sort-of attempting. Each state can still require different levels of examination, I have no problem with that, but at this point they just seem to be different for the sake of being different. Could it be people within each state’s boards trying to maintain autonomy and job security? Never….
I think it was about 5 years ago when I took the NCEES Structural 1 exam, all you need in FL for your PE, and it wasn’t that bad if you are a decently well rounded SE, as most of the contributors to this list seem to be. A lot of retaining wall and foundation stuff. I did have to learn some basic seismic, bridge and PT stuff, but very basic. May be easier to just suck it up at this point. Getting all the paperwork done is no fun though, had to do it all to get a MS license. And I will keep my other snide remarks about that place to myself…..
I do feel your pain, and when you do get licensed be aware of the other state’s CEU credits, some of them are drastically different. Also, it is not just our profession. I have a lawyer buddy who has been studying for months for the CA bar, it is supposed to be a bear.
Andrew Kester, PE
Orlando, FL