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  • 1.  How has getting your PE helped your career?

    Posted 08-07-2019 08:54 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 08-09-2019 10:44 AM

    As today (August 7th) is Professional Engineers Day, I would like to start a discussion about PE Licensure. To give a bit of history, the first professional engineering license was issued to Charles Bellamy in Wyoming on August 8, 1907. Since that time, licensure has expanded and professional engineers around the world have made the commitment to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. I personally took the FE exam during my senior year of college and am now two years into my career (so two more years of engineering design experience under a licensed professional engineer until I can sit for the exam). I would be glad to answer any questions about the FE if anyone has any!

    For those of you who are licensed Professional Engineers, how did your career change after becoming a licensed PE or what career actions were you able to take after getting the PE?

    More about Professional Engineers Day can be viewed here.


    Danielle Schroeder EIT,A.M.ASCE
    Associate Engineer
    Pennoni Associates
    Philadelphia PA

  • 2.  RE: How has getting your PE helped your career?

    Posted 08-08-2019 10:16 AM
    I think other P.E.'s respect you more after you become licensed. It's a rite of passage most engineers have to go through. I became self-employed after getting my license. Doing so without it would've been very difficult since you can't legally practice engineering without being licensed as both an individual and a business.

    Happy P.E. Day Everyone!
    - Florida P.E. No. 83333

    Dave Ureña, P.E.
    Banneker, LLC
    3104 N. Armenia Ave
    Suite 2
    Tampa, FL 33607

  • 3.  RE: How has getting your PE helped your career?

    Posted 08-09-2019 08:13 AM
    Where I work, you need to have a PE license to become a manager. I took the FE in college and the PE five years after that. It was a challenge getting back into the studying mode at that point but was worth it once I passed.

    Yance Marti P.E.,M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer IV
    City of Milwaukee
    Milwaukee WI

  • 4.  RE: How has getting your PE helped your career?

    Posted 08-09-2019 10:17 AM
    Edited by Chad Morrison 08-09-2019 11:42 AM
    My career did not change.  The license does not have an affect on how you practice on your last day as an EIT versus the first day of your PE.  I expected that I could stamp on my first day.  However, just because the state says you can stamp, does not mean your employer will.  Your employer has many reasons to limit who can stamp internally... you have proven yourself capable to the state, but have you proven yourself capable to your employer?  Errors and omissions occur in all designs, but have you reduced them to a level that is acceptable where your employer is willing to back you with insurance.  To stamp, you need insurance and the company may need licensure of its own.  Most of all you need the confidence of your peers and supervisors.

    I am not trying to rain on anyone's parade.  I was proud of my accomplishment then and still am.  It is a huge milestone.  I was eager to start stamping and "doing things on my own."  I am thankful for my employer's commitment to me through the process and their restraint regarding licensure.  It has made me a better engineer by fostering confidence over time, rather than basing it on a calendar date.

    Chad Morrison P.E.,M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
    (401)231-4870 EXT 2207

  • 5.  RE: How has getting your PE helped your career?

    Posted 08-09-2019 10:23 AM
    Obtaining a professional license has made it easier to get a job even if I would not be signing documents, and many proscriptive employers set this as a requirement. The license also allowed me to be to be considered for jobs where a license is required. It also allowed me to go into business for myself.

    The discussion posting the question presented a flawed understanding about professional licenses. Professional licensing did not come about because engineers "..made the commitment to protect the public health, safety, and welfare". Licensing came about as a result of bad practices of some engineers. In Wyoming I believe the motivation was poor surveys of properties. In California I understand licensing of civil engineers was in response to a dam failure.

    In California the Professional Engineers Act states that "...In order to safeguard life, health, property, and public welfare, no person shall practice civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering unless appropriately licensed or specifically exempted from licensure under this chapter,...". Thus we are regulated as a way to protect the public. Engineers are not charged with a unique responsibility to protect the public. Licensing is to regulate engineers not to empower engineers to protect the public.

    Licensing provides a filter on who is licensed and provides a mechanism for dealing with those that cause problems. Licensing does not assure that all engineers are competent in everything they do.

    Separately from licensing, the laws of negligence make engineers responsible for their acts and thus in order not to be found negligent engineers must act in ways that have the effect of protecting the public. Note that the laws relating to negligence applies to all individuals not just professional engineers. The point is that we are not anointed as the special protectors of the public.

    The engineer's primary responsibility is to the engineer's client. This does not mean that the engineer does not have other responsibilities, which sometimes will control. For example our responsibility to our client does not allow us to ignore regulations nor does it excuse any acts of negligence.

    Instead of quoting codes of ethics let us focus on what the laws say

    Mark Gilligan SE


  • 6.  RE: How has getting your PE helped your career?

    Posted 08-09-2019 01:06 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 08-09-2019 01:28 PM
    PE Licensure for me has provided a number of benefits and advantages in my career.  I've come to understand that P.E. licensure is a way to establish your credibility in the field of Civil Engineering.  My employer appreciates this as they pay an additional stipend for licensed staff and an even higher amount if we are in a position where stamping drawings is required.  I've testified in court to defend a design I completed on a modern roundabout.  Being a P.E. demonstrated professional credibility to the jury and added weight to my testimony, and we prevailed on the case.  I've given presentations before hundreds of colleagues from across the nation and even other countries.  Being a P.E. added credibility to the research, findings, and application of these findings I discussed in these presentations.  Most of all, passing the P.E. exam requires an effort grounded in problem solving and rationally working through to a solution.  I've seen unlicensed professionals so focused on the literal text of State and Federal design standards yet struggle to apply these standards to specific situations on the ground.  I'm certain a problem solving approach based in the fundamentals of licensure would help alleviate this struggle for them.  Exercising "Engineering Judgement" is called for in several design guides and standards too.  This seems to dovetail well with those who have attained their P.E. licenses because they understand the risk involved but aren't afraid to make a determination based on sound principles.

    Warm regards to all professional engineers on our special day!

    Daniel Dovey P.E.,M.ASCE
    Senior Engineer
    King County Dept Of Transp
    Bellevue WA


  • 7.  RE: How has getting your PE helped your career?

    Posted 08-23-2019 09:20 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 08-23-2019 09:19 AM
    Except for a year or two, my entire career was in construction where my P.E. was nothing more than a resume enhancer. After retirement, I did some consulting and faced several instances where owners would require a third party review of lift plans- stamped by a P.E. Although I disagreed with the concept, I did some of that and with qualifications. My concern is that owners and some GCs are not aware of what a license is for and that some P.E.s will take on work that they are not qualified for.

    James Worrell
    Mostly Retired
    PE, RLS (retired)
    Raleigh NC

  • 8.  RE: How has getting your PE helped your career?

    Posted 08-30-2019 10:08 AM
    Acquiring my P.E. allowed me to transition my career back to Civil Engineering. After five years of Active Duty service as an Army Combat Engineer, my first civilian job took me into the Petroleum industry. While lucrative and interesting -- I learned A LOT I didn't know about oil and gas -- my heart and my passion didn't lie in Petroleum Engineering. Ten years after taking the FE at university, I finally sat for the P.E. (and passed!). Before becoming a P.E., Civil firms were hesitant to hire me for the dual penalties of a) a lack of CE experience, and b) why would anyone want to leave the oilfield to work as a CE? (i.e. money). I think my P.E. helped CE employers take me a bit more seriously and allowed them to recognise the value I brought to the table. Becoming a P.E. was a goal I'd set for myself as a university student. While it took me longer than expected, I'm glad I pursued it.

    Joel Dixon P.E., M.ASCE
    Project Manager
    Oklahoma City OK

  • 9.  RE: How has getting your PE helped your career?

    Posted 09-02-2019 10:01 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 09-02-2019 10:01 AM
    ​In my case, it has helped me greatly to be able to move overseas and to become licensed in the UK and Spain since there are agreements between licensing organizations in different countries. I am now in the Middle East and it continues to be an essential tool to have that enables me to expand and broaden my interest in the constantly evolving field of engineering. 

    Antonio Moreno, PE, Ceng MICE
    Ingeniero de Caminos

  • 10.  RE: How has getting your PE helped your career?

    Posted 09-04-2019 04:18 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 09-04-2019 04:17 PM

    Getting my license allowed me to sign my own plans. That's about it. I put off getting my license for many years because I saw that often the engineering designers were more competent than the PE's who supervised them. Often, those that received their PE's were those that were better test takers. For some reason people believe that a PE bestows upon the bearer some magic knowledge, so I needed to get it.

    While I do believe that licensing engineers is essential, I feel that the current methods of licensing do not produce the engineering professionals that it supposes. I have literally been yelled at by friends of people that I wouldn't sign off as one of their recommendations. I was told I should just sign off because it doesn't mean anything and they'll just find someone else that will. That's the general attitude about getting recommendations.

    I have gotten resumes from foreign students doing graduate work in the US that have their PEs. In some cases, it was questionable how they were able to gain the 2 additional years of work experience needed to be eligible to sit for the exam (I can only speculate that their professors signed off on their application). The majority of college prof PEs that I know (not all) are very good technicians and can solve complex problems, but is that all a PE is - a person whose technical abilities are really good?

    David Silverman Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Advanced Engineerng & Consulting
    Woodland Hills CA