Do you ever wonder about the importance of engineering and why engineers need to take and pass the PE exam to become licensed? Or why many states require a licensed engineer to obtain a specific amount of Professional Development Hours (PDHs) on an annual or biannual schedule?
The answer is simple: an engineer is responsible for keeping the public safe. This concept is common in other professional fields. For example, aspiring doctors must take and pass USMLE, as well as periodically take continuing education classes. The same idea applies to lawyers, nurses, accountants, and veterinarians.
Think about it: engineers work on many projects that can affect the public-positively if the project is implemented correctly, or negatively if something goes wrong. Engineers work on bridges, buildings, roadways, and even projects that include dangerous chemicals and even petroleum. Ensuring engineers are licensed is a big precaution in keeping the public safe. If an unqualified engineer works on a project, there is a possibility of putting the public in danger.
When asked about the importance of engineering, the director of reinforcement for the state of Louisiana reported: "The primary purpose of licensing for professional engineers is to protect the public from unqualified individuals."
How to Comply with Engineering Licensing Requirements
Becoming a licensed, professional engineer can be broken down into 3 steps:
Step 1: Take and Pass the FE Exam
The Fundamentals of Engineering
(FE) exam is generally the first step in becoming a professional engineer. There are seven different FE exams one can take: FE Chemical, FE Civil, FE Electrical, FE Environmental, FE Industrial, FE Mechanical, and FE Other (General). The FE exam is typically required to be taken and passed before one applies to take the PE exam.
Step 2: Take and Pass the PE Exam
Step 3: Take Continuing Education Courses
Currently, 42 out of 50 states require engineers to obtain a specific amount of PDH credits to maintain an active engineering license. Although state requirements differ, many states accept webinars and active online courses for credit. To learn about your state's license renewal requirements, click here