How do I get licensed?
Each state and territory varies slightly, but in general, there is a four-step process required to obtain engineering licensure.
- Graduation: The first step is earning a degree from a program accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.
- FE Exam The first exam in the licensure process is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE). This exam is offered in April and October every year. Most students take the exam right before graduation or soon after while the technical information they've studied is still fresh in their minds. Once you pass the exam, you are classified as an intern, also known as Engineering Intern (EI) or Engineer-in-Training (EIT).
- Work Experience After passing the FE exam, you will continue your journey toward professional licensure by gaining engineering experience. Many jurisdictions have specific requirements about the type of experience you need to gain. Most require that you gain experience under the supervision of someone who is already licensed, and that your experience involve increasing levels of responsibility. Once you begin work, contact your licensing board to find out what experience is needed and talk with professional engineers in your company to find out how you can gain this experience. In Tennessee, 4 years of progressive engineering experience (with Engineer Intern certification) or 12 years of progressive engineering experience (without Engineer Intern certification) are required.
- PE Exam Once you have gained the appropriate experience required, you can take the second exam in the licensure process, the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE). This exam is given in a variety of engineering disciplines.
After completing all the steps in the engineering licensure process—education, experience, and examinations—you are eligible for licensure by your licensing board. Once you are granted licensure, you may use the distinguished designation "professional engineer," or P.E.
What makes a PE different from an engineer?
- Only a licensed engineer may prepare, sign and seal, and submit engineering plans and drawings to a public authority for approval, or seal engineering work for public and private clients.
- PEs shoulder the responsibility for not only their work, but also for the lives affected by that work and must hold themselves to high ethical standards of practice.
- Licensure for a consulting engineer or a private practitioner is not something that is merely desirable; it is a legal requirement for those who are in responsible charge of work, be they principals or employees.
- Licensure for engineers in government has become increasingly significant. In many federal, state, and municipal agencies, certain governmental engineering positions, particularly those considered higher level and responsible positions, must be filled by licensed professional engineers.
Further information on licensure can be found at these web sites: