Applying for your PE license

PE license or licensure for Professional Engineers is the approval to an engineer to offer his/her services directly to the public. This certification is legally defined and protected by the United States government with the authority to grant PE licenses vested with the individual states. While the application procedure varies from state to state, the general criteria remains the same. A license issued by the state is valid only in that particular state. It is however easier to get a license in other states through reciprocal arrangements once you have a license through your primary state.

Applying for the PE License

To apply for a PE license, you should be a 4-year degree graduate from an ABET accredited school. If the degree was obtained from another country, the program has to be evaluated by an independent evaluation body and certified that it meets the requirements before you can apply for your PE license. Some of the states have waived this requirement of evaluating foreign degrees while some states have a provisions to replace academic qualifications with work experience.  It will be up to you to read on the requirements and provisions of your respective state to determine which requirements you will have to deal with.  For a start, find out more from the professional engineering body which regulates the examination process.

Prerequisite – Fundamentals of Engineering Exam
In order to apply for PE license, you must have passed the Fundamentals of Engineering examination. The FE examination tests the broad level of understanding of engineering fundamentals of a wide range of subjects. Once an engineer passes the FE examination he/she is referred to as Engineer in training or Engineer Intern.

Experience and Education

To qualify for applying for PE license, you should have accumulated a certain number of years of experience in the engineering field. The experience typically has to be under the supervision of another PE and has to be certified by him/her as part of the application process. Most of the states require you to have at least four years of experience from the date you passed the FE examination. Some states have even lower requirement of years. Some states could consider internships and other related experience as part of the 4-year threshold.

If you have not passed the FE examination and are planning to apply based on number of years of experience, the experience has to be certified by a PE.

The Test

The application procedure is time consuming and it is recommended to start the process well in advance. Most of the states conduct the exam twice a year and the application should reach the state board well in advance to be eligible to sit for the exam. The board verifies the applicants’ records and if required solicits additional information from the references of the applicant. In addition to verifying the academic records and work experience, the boards also ascertain that the moral and ethical judgment of the applicant is if the highest order.

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  1. hi,

    I would like to know, I am graduate Civil engineer from Indian university with 10 years of working experience .I am working in UAE. My question is not particular to US PE license but in general, Can I apply for PE license without working in the same country ?

  2. hi,

    I would like to know, I am a practising process engineering and have total 8.5 years of experience post degree. I completed for year chemical engineering degree course from a well known university in India. Presently I am working in UAE. My question is not particular to US PE license but in general, Can I apply for PE license without working in the same country ???

  3. Sir,
    I began my career after 1st Class Diploma in Engineering in the year 2000. I’m a Practicing CIVIL Engineer with 13+ yrs of Experience. Recently, I did B. Tech in Regular/Part-time mode (54% marks) from Delhi College of Engineering. Is it necessary for me to undergo some sort of Certification to be able to apply for “Professional Engineer”. If Yes, then, where to begin from? I’m 37+yrs in age!

  4. Hello,

    My major is electrical engineering but my experience is in industrial engineering. Can I take PE exam for industrial engineering or it must be related to my major?

    Best regards,

  5. I work at a large engineering company, in product development, that doesn’t require thats its engineers have PE licences; however, I still would like to get mine. I graduated in May 2009, and I will have completed my master’s (part time) by August. I plan to sit for the FE this spring. My questions are:

    1. Is it possible to gain the PE license if you don’t work with, or even know, any PE’s? Would recommendations from other engineers, fellows, managers, etc, be sufficient?

    2. How strict are they about the 4 years of experience? How many years does an MS in engineering count towards the 4 years? Does this 4 years start only after successfully passing the FE exam?


    1. I am a civil engineer so my answer might not be entirely applicable to your question. However, I believe that the requirements vary from State to State. I know that in Florida, it is a mandatory requirement to have your experience signed off by a registered PE.
      All the best.
      Thank you.

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