Students often ask me to clarify “Progressive Engineering Experience”…and specifically, when this experience starts.
They come to me often after picking up some bad information on the interwebs.
Information that has done nothing but confuse and even discourage people from pursuing their Professional Engineering License.
Recently, I was meeting with one of our new Prepineer students, and in a nutshell…this is what they had to say:
I held off from taking the FE Exam for so long because I already felt it was going to be a rough
go at passing…havingbeen out of school for so long.
But then I heard that I had to pass the FE Exam first before I started acquiring my professional experience for the PE Exam.
I started working right out of college, I had a ton of experience under Professional Engineers.
Then I heard that the experience I had wouldn’t be counted towards my application for the PE Exam…all those years were for naught.
On top of everything else, this was so discouraging.
The question comes in many forms, from every student demographic.
From those who are still in college to others who have been out of college for 15 years…bad information doesn’t discriminate.
So the question is:
“Do I need to pass the FE Exam and have my EIT Certification first before I start acquiring the required years of experience needed to apply for and take the PE Exam?”
This is definitely something I’ve heard (more than once) myself…
…And I did hear when I was preparing for the FE Exam.
For me, I hadn’t been out of college for too long, so it didn’t rattle me all that much.
But for those who have been working for 4 years or more, the last thing you want to hear is that your experience since graduating hasn’t counted one iota towards fulfilling the requirements to sit for the PE Exam.
The quick and dirty answer to this point of confusion is this:
You begin acquiring “progressive engineering experience” the day you graduate with your BS and start working beneath a Licensed Professional Engineer.
And no, that’s doesn’t mean graduate with some Bull$&!t (although many of us may feel that way), that’s graduate with your Bachelor of Science.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you have your EIT Certification.
It doesn’t even matter if you have taken the FE Exam.
If you are working in an engineering position after graduation, then you are actively acquiring “progressive engineering experience”.
Experience which you can reference 100% when you go to apply for your PE Exam.
Now, in regards to the number of years of experience needed, there are different requirements depending on the state that you live.
This experience requirement drops in as one of four general requirements that are fairly uniform across the board.
To becoming eligible to sit for the PE Exam, these four requirements must be met:
- You need to have graduated from an ABET Accredited University with an Engineering Degree (if you did not, that will affect the number of years of experience required for eligibility, see the note below).
- You need to have passed the FE exam (this can actually be waived in some situations, for example, if you have mega years of experience working in an engineering function)
- You have had to acquired a certain number of years of “Progressive Engineering Experience”.
- You’ve got to get your homies (or rather, your Professional Engineering supervisors) to vouch for you that you are a solid person and engineer.
NOTE: The number of years of engineering experience is primarily dependent on your college degree.
In many states, if you don’t have an ABET Accredited Engineering Degree, the number of years of experience is going to be dramatically different.
In the State of California, as an example, if you have a degree, but it’s not ABET Accredited, then you would need to be able to document 4 years of engineering work experience for eligibility.
If on the other hand, you did have an ABET Accredited Engineering Degree, then you would need to document only 2 years of engineering work experience.
There are other options that fall within this eligibility flow chart, but a third to note is if you didn’t have a degree at all.
We have Prepineer students that fall in to this scenario, in which case, they would need to be able to document 6 years of engineering work experience.
You can check out this California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists specific flow chart here:
The key terminology of note on this flowchart is that where it says:
“[A]fter date of BS graduation”.
So that’s that.
If you are hearing from others that you need to first pass the FE Exam before you start acquiring experience working under a Professional Engineer, then you are getting bad advice.
Theoretically speaking (or typing), staying with California as our example, if you started working once you graduated with your ABET Accredited Engineering degree and waited 2 years to take the FE exam and you passed, then you could turn around and take the PE Exam the very next test date.
And that’s the end to that bit of confusion.
As always, with love, Prepineer.