Professional Practice

NSPE Position Statement No. 10-1778
January 2017
Latest Revision: 
July 2018
NSPE Contact: 
Committee on Policy and Advocacy
Professional Policy Supported: 
10-Professional Practice
Printable Version: 

Position Statement:  NSPE’s position is that professional engineers are an integral factor in the planning, engineering, design, implementation, construction, operation and maintenance of engineered systems.  NSPE will proactively support the legislative and administrative actions necessary to support these goals. This position statement is made to expand and detail NSPE’s Position Statement No. 09-152: Licensure and Qualifications for Practice.

Background:  The following principles should guide the licensed practice of engineering by professional engineers:

  1. Licensing – State licensing boards and governing jurisdictions must charge fees to support the full cost of administering professional licensure, but should not charge fees as a source of taxation. A reduced fee should be charged for an inactive status license for those not actively performing work in a jurisdiction.  Returning to active status should include a reasonable fee structure and demonstration of continuing competence or active practice in another jurisdiction. Any licensed professional engineer, 65 or older, not actively engaged in the practice of professional engineering, should be allowed to obtain the status of retired and use the title “P.E. Ret.” for no fee or a reduced fee.  For professional engineers serving in the military, licensing jurisdictions should make accommodations for extending renewal deadlines and requirements until 180 days after the end of active deployment outside of the US. Also, expedited comity should be granted for military spouses relocating due to a military transfer.

  2. Discipline-Specific Licensure – NSPE believes that fragmenting the professional engineering license into discipline-specific title or practice acts weakens rather than strengthens the integrity of the license. Licensure as a professional engineer must be the only legal designation required for the practice of engineering. Continued recognition of professional engineering licensure as the defining qualification for professional practice is crucial to the public’s understanding of the profession, and ensuring the trust and protection of the public.

  3. Early Taking of the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam – Licensing boards and governing jurisdictions are encouraged to provide the option of taking the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam as soon as an applicant for licensure believes they are prepared to take the exam.  The applicant would not be eligible for licensure until meeting all requirements for licensure— 4-year Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology/Engineering Accreditation Commission accredited degree, passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, and 4 years of progressive engineering experience.

  4. Responsible Charge – The degree of control a professional engineer is required to exercise over engineering decisions made personally or by others over which the professional engineer provides supervisory direction and control authority. In making and approving engineering decisions, the professional engineer must be actively engaged in the engineering process, from conception to completion. Responsible charge and direct supervision are not satisfied with drawing or other document review after preparation without involvement in the design and development process.

Attacks on Licensure – Licensure of professional engineers is critical to protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public.  The practice of engineering is not a right but is a privilege granted only to those who hold the proper qualifications.  Licensing boards and governing jurisdictions are necessary to regulate the profession.