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This blog includes a compilation of subject-matter expert-authored articles covering topics within engineering, project management, architecture, and more.

Which Exam Should You Take? PE Civil: Water Resources and Environmental vs PE Environmental

Nov 15, 2018

If you are interested in environmental engineering and want to become professionally licensed, you may be wondering which PE exam to take. NCEES offers two different environmental exams for professional licensing: PE Civil with a Water Resources and Environmental Depth, and PE Environmental.

Deciding which exam to take may seem overwhelming, but there are a few strategies you can follow to select the exam that best suits you and your professional goals. To begin the comparison, simply look at NCEES' exam specifications for both exams:

PE Civil Exam Breadth Topics

  • Project Planning
  • Means and Methods
  • Soil Mechanics
  • Structural Mechanics
  • Hydraulics and Hydrology
  • Geometrics
  • Materials
  • Site Development

PE Civil Exam Depth Topics

  • Analysis and Design
  • Hydraulics- Closed Circuits
  • Hydraulics- Open Channel
  • Hydrology
  • Groundwater and Wells
  • Wastewater Collection and Treatment
  • Water Quality
  • Drinking Water Distribution and Treatment
  • Engineering Economics Analysis

PE Environmental Exam Topics

  • Water
  • Air
  • Solid and Hazardous Waste
  • Site Assessment and Remediation
  • Environmental Health and Safety
  • Associated Engineering Principles
When evaluating each exam's specifications, you will notice that there are many more topics on the PE Civil: Water Resources and Environmental Exam and less on the PE Environmental exam. The PE Environmental exam is much broader in its topics, so if you are aiming to take the PE Environmental exam, make sure to look into each subtopic to get a better understanding of what the exam will present. The PE Civil exam has a number of subtopics under each topic, as well. A good strategy is to pick the exam that has the most topics that you are comfortable with. Of course, keep your career goals in mind when looking at the NCEES exam specifications.

Another thing to put into consideration when picking your exam is your state board's regulations. Some states may stamp your license with a general PE stamp, as others will specify which engineering discipline you are licensed under. Always make sure to contact your state board before signing up for a specific exam.

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