What it Means to be a Professional Engineer 

October 10, 2022

What is a professional engineer? Being a professional engineer or a PE means more than having an engineering degree. They have advanced training and education that ensures their qualifications to guarantee a project's safety and the engineering plans they design or review. A licensed PE is a prerequisite for submitting engineering plans and drawings to a public authority for approval or providing a seal of engineering work in public and private sectors. 

What Becoming a Professional Engineer Requires 

It is a requirement to have a four-year accredited engineering degree and at least a four-year apprenticeship under another Professional Engineer to qualify as a PE. You must pass two competency exams and earn a license from your state's respective licensure board. While the finer points can vary from state to state, this is the standard for almost every state.

Who Decides Which Qualifications are Needed to be a PE? 

State licensing boards decide who gets to call themselves a PE. They will administer your exams and make sure you meet the requirement to be a PE. Each state has a separate approval system and licensure board. Go to your state's licensing board site to review your state's requirements.

How Does a PE Keep Their Licensure? 

Once someone is qualified to be a PE, the journey isn't over. State licensing boards mandate that PEs undergo rigorous continuing education and remain active in opportunities for professional development.

What are The Benefits of Being a Professional Engineer? 

A PE signifies the bearer is at the top of their field and can be called an expert. Most government agencies, the private sector, and other industries require someone to be a PE if they want to be employed. As mentioned earlier, if you wish to submit plans to a public authority for approval, you need to be a PE. Further, the industries that don't yet require licensure may one day make these credentials compulsory. Essentially, it tells the public you have been vetted as a top-notch professional.

However, the benefits don't stop there. A PE can work anywhere in the country, as the registration requirements have become a national standard. There are more career opportunities for those with the licensure, and you also stand to make more money. Finally, you can only legally call yourself an engineer if you have the licensure.

What Can a Professional Engineer Do? 

PEs can work on government projects or for the private sector. Their duties can depend on the industry. In general, PEs can carry out site assessments and examinations. They can develop plans, monitor the progress of an operation, and fix problems as they arise. Also, with their advanced training and education, they can teach.

Professional Engineering Today 

Over a hundred years ago, anyone could call themselves an engineer. Today, every state mandates strict requirements to offer engineering services publicly.

The licensure, continuing education, and professional development needed for a PE guarantee that professional engineers hold to the strictest standards long after completing their apprenticeship and passing all required tests. With expanding technologies, further certifications in professional engineering fields are becoming requirements among broader industries.

The benefits are manifold. A PE earns more money and has more career opportunities, flexibility, and job security than someone without their licensure. 

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