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Engineering Graduates: Should You Get Your PE License?

January 12th, 2012

Somewhere near the end of your engineering degree program, you’ll have to decide whether to get your Professional Engineer (PE) license. You’ll have to decide whether you’re willing to put in the time: studying for and taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam; putting in roughly 4 years as an   Engineer-in-Training (EIT) ; then studying for and taking the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam

It takes a lot of time and effort to get  a PE license. Is it worth it? Read the following 6 facts and see if they help you make up your mind:

1. Your PE License Sets You Apart

The PE license demonstrates that you have the equivalent of a 4-year engineering degree, four or more years of progressive experience and a multidisciplinary understanding of physical and engineering principles. It shows that you have met all the standards required of the profession. For fields where the PE is preferred but usually not required, it gives you another opportunity to stand out.

2. Your PE License Generally Means a Higher Salary

According to the National Society of Professional Engineers’ 2010 Engineering Income & Salary Survey, the median salary of engineers without a PE license was $94,000, whereas the median salary of engineers with a PE license was $99,000 — a difference of about 5 percent.

3. A PE License Can Make a Difference in the Hiring Process

If a company has to choose between two qualified applicants, one with a PE license (or an EIT working toward his license) and one without, which one do you think it will choose? Companies typically hire based upon which candidate they believe will bring the most benefit to the company.

4. A PE License Gives You the Ability to Sign and Seal Plans and Drawings

Only a licensed engineer can submit plans and drawings, and be in charge of work in the private sector. These requirements lead to more responsibility for the licensed PE, and thus greater career potential.

5. You Can Only Officially Call Yourself an Engineer If You Have a PE License

If you don’t have a PE license, you—or your company—can’t officially call yourself an engineer in official documents, such as business cards, letterheads and resumes.

6. Having a PE License Means You Can Work Anywhere in the Country

Since the FE and PE exams are standardized nationally, you can work as a professional engineer if you transfer to another state. You would need to register with the board of engineering in your new state, and your new state may have additional requirements, but you can use your PE license throughout the US.  And with the engineering profession now operating in an international environment, licensing may be required to work in, or for, other countries.  You’ll be prepared if your career moves in this direction.

The website of the National Society of Professional Engineers might best summarize the situation: “Licensure is the mark of a professional. It’s a standard recognized by employers and their clients, by governments and by the public as an assurance of dedication, skill and quality.”

So, what do you think is the wise choice?

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