The FE and the PE – Who takes them?
There is good news, and there is bad news. The good news is that some engineers do not need to perform the tests; the bad news is that the rest do. Most FE and PE examinees are civil engineers, who regularly 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 also need a PE license. Generally speaking, engineers whose work will affect public safety in any way should be concerned about testing; Civil, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers are prime candidates for the FE and PE exams. An example of an engineer who may not need certification would be an electrical engineer who designs low-power computer chips or embedded systems.
Surprise! Those pursuing a legal career in any discipline are already being treated to a veritable banquet of exam cuisine. But those special few who want to practice in the lucrative and in-demand field of patent law without a technical degree might 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 exam 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 FE 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 PE 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 to do independent consulting will have to take the FE/PE to advertise as “professional” or “licensed” engineers.
In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world, the bogeyman of job instability could come out of the closet at any moment. Those who handle a PE will have something to combat it with. Even if you don’t need a PE for your current job, if something happens (knock on wood) and you find yourself looking for a new job, having a PE could open certain doors that might otherwise be closed. Already having a license also means one less thing to think about when changing jobs: convenience!
Expert testimony and investigation
Authorized EPs may be asked to provide professional opinions on various engineering issues, such as the causes of structural failures or electrical fires. solve the crime; save the world!
To register for the exams, or for more information about the tests, visit the NCEES website.