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How Do You Become a PE in Civil Engineering?

  • 17 September, 2021

Becoming a professional engineer is one of the biggest milestones of any engineer's career. It means that you have the knowledge and experience that society depends on to maintain infrastructure, provide safe buildings, protect the environment, and much more. So, the question is, how do you become a PE in civil engineering?

This question has different answers depending on which state issues your PE license. Common requirements include a bachelor's or higher degree in civil engineering, at least four years of experience working in civil engineering under the direct supervision of a licensed engineer, and passing the PE civil engineering exam. State boards that issue professional licensure will have different requirements for how you prove you meet these requirements and when you can take the test. Some states allow individuals to take the PE exam immediately after finishing college and passing their FE exam, but do not grant licensure until they gain the necessary experience. Other states require you to prove you meet the experience requirements before you can register for the exam. You'll need to find out what your state requires, as well as the requirements for any other states you may need to get licensed in.

Below are some tips to working toward and obtaining the title of PE:

1. Earn a Civil Engineering Degree and Pass the FE Exam

Earning a civil engineering degree is usually the quickest way to qualify to take the PE exam. Some states may allow individuals with many years of experience to substitute their experience for a degree, but this time is likely measured in decades rather than years. Passing the FE exam is also required before you can earn your PE license.

How Do You Become a PE in Civil Engineering?

2. Keep Track of Your Qualifying Work Experience

Qualified experience means that you were performing civil engineering tasks while under the direct supervision of a licensed professional engineer. States differ on which tasks qualify. For example, contract and project management tasks may not qualify at face value. Because of this caveat, you should keep track of all the qualifying tasks you perform. Did you review engineering plans and calculations and provide construction management and oversight? You'll want to mark those experiences down. It might be helpful to ask friends and colleagues what they put on their applications to get an idea of what your state board is looking for. Just remember that it must be your own experiences listed on the application.

If you hold one job with one supervisor from the time you graduate engineering school to the time you apply for the PE license, it will be simple to confirm your work experience. You will likely need all your supervisors to fill out and sign documentation verifying your experience. If you've changed jobs or supervisors during your time of qualifying experience, keep track of your supervisors' contact info. Let them know ahead of time that you're getting ready to apply for the PE license and that you will need their help.

3. Pass the PE Civil Exam

Make sure you plan ahead and start the application and exam preparation processes several months in advance. There are many great resources at School of PE on how to prepare for and pass the PE Civil exam. Make sure you know the deadlines for your state, and don't wait until the last minute to get your application submitted or start studying.

Following these steps, you can earn your professional engineer license in civil engineering. With this license, you will have achieved one of the most important milestones of your engineering career.

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