"Basically being a PE means that you are at the top of your game, top of your profession. They don't just hand that out to anybody."
-- Randal E. Riebel, P.E.
Licensure is the mark of a professional. It's a standard recognized by employers and their clients, by governments and by the public as an assurance of dedication, skill and quality.
There are many powerful reasons both professional and personal for earning and maintaining a PE license. Only a licensed engineer, for instance, may prepare, sign, seal and submit engineering plans and drawings to an public authority for approval, or to seal engineering work for public and private clients.
For consulting engineers and private practitioners, licensure is a virtual necessity. In fact, it is a legal requirement for those who are in responsible charge of work, be they principals or employees.
More and more with each passing day, government agencies, educational institutions and private industries are requiring that they hire and contract only with licensed professional engineers. This is a trend that is almost certain to continue in the future.
Today, no matter what career path a professional engineer chooses, a successful, ongoing career virtually requires PE licensure.
Just as the CPA defines the accountant, and a law license defines the lawyer, the PE license tells the public that you have mastered the critical elements of your profession. It demonstrates your commitment to the highest standards of engineering practice. It's also proof of your ability to offer engineering services directly to the public - something only a licensed PE can do. The PE after your name is an advantage that will open doors for the rest of your life.
Five Reasons to Get Licensed
- Prestige: PEs are respected by the public and are seen in the same light as licensed professionals in other fields. PEs are also held in high esteem by their peers within the engineering community, who see the PE as part of an elite group.
- Career Development: Employers are impressed with engineers who have their PE license. Licensure not only enhances your stature, it shows commitment to the profession and demonstrates heightened leadership and management skills. Licensure is also a necessity for rising to increased levels of authority and responsibility.
- Authority: Only PEs can sign and seal engineering drawings; and only PEs can be in responsible charge of a firm in private practice or serve as a fully qualified expert witness. Also, many government agencies and educational institutions are emphasizing licensure among their engineers as well.
- Flexibility: Have a PE license opens up your career options. You can become a specialist, or establish your own business. It also protects you during industry downsizing or outsourcing. The PE license allows you to go as far as your initiative and talent will take you.
- Money: Studies have shown that most PEs earn higher pay throughout their business careers. Having your PE allows expanded opportunities beyond a company structure - as an independent consultant for example.
“I value quite highly the experience of having become a licensed professional engineer. I found that preparing for the examinations required to qualify for the license broadened my skills and caused me to become more knowledgeable of other engineering disciplines…. So, when young people ask me about professional licensure, I tell them without reservation to pursue it.”
Michael D. Griffin, P.E.
NASA Administrator, 2005–09
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Schafer Corp.