There is good and bad news. The good news is that some engineers don’t need to do the tests; the bad news is that the rest do. Most FE and PE examinees are civil engineers, who routinely work with public systems and construction documents. Electrical engineers who design power systems and mechanical engineers who design HVAC systems are some of the other engineers who will likely need a PE license as well. Generally speaking, engineers whose work will affect public safety in some way should be concerned with examinations; Civil, structural, mechanical and electrical engineers are the main candidates for the FE and PE exams. An example of an engineer who may not need a certification would be an electrical engineer who designs low-power computer chips or embedded systems.
Surprise! Those who pursue a legal career of any discipline are already being treated to a veritable exam kitchen feast. But those special few who want to practice in the lucrative and sought-after field of patent law without a technical degree could find themselves with an extra slice on their plates. The US Patent and Trademark Office has certain technical requirements for anyone who wishes to take the registration examination for patent law. Those without a technical degree have a couple of options:
- Accumulate a certain number of college credit hours in an appropriate technical discipline, or
- Pass the FE exam
Those who have already graduated and don’t have the time or money to go back to school really have no choice but to pass the EF exam (or tragically abandon their childhood dreams of an adventurous life in patent law) .
Of course, even if you don’t need to be certified, you can certainly become a professional engineer for the fun of it. And by fun I mean utility. Even if a physical education is not required, those who receive a license can enjoy a couple of other benefits.
Engineers who choose to pursue a consulting career and are not necessarily represented by a professional engineering firm will have stronger credentials and appear more knowledgeable and professional. Additionally, engineers leaving the industry for independent consulting will need to take the FE / PE in order to promote themselves as “professional” or “licensed” engineers.
In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, the bogeyman of job instability could come out of the closet at any time. Those wielding an XP will have something to fight with. Even if you don’t need a physical education for your current job, if something happens (knock on wood) and you find yourself looking for a new job, having a physical education could open certain doors that might otherwise be closed. Having a license also means one less thing to think about when transitioning between jobs – convenient!
Expert Testimony and Research
Licensed PEs may be asked to provide professional opinions on various engineering issues, such as causes of structural failure or electrical fires. Solve crimes; save the world!
To register for the exams, or for more information about the exams, visit the NCEES website.