Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Becoming a Professional Engineer

  1. Feb 1, 2009 #1
    Hey all,

    In researching my options upon exiting college (Im an EE major) I have come across the Professional Engineer certification. I have done a little research on the topic and know that I will need to take the FE exam, work for approximately 4 years (under the supervision of a PE), and then take the 8-hour PE exam. However I still have a few questions that I couldn't conclusively find on the NCEES website. As an electrical engineer (I read that for civil engineers it is more useful), would it be a worthwhile pursuit? What exactly could I do as a PE that I couldn't as a regular engineer, and would it open up more career options to me? What is the typical salary an EE PE could expect? In addition, I also hope to earn a masters degree directly after my bachelors (if possible). In your opinion, is all of the time and energy spent on this worth the reward?

    Thank You
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2009 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    If you are going to be working in an engineering company then it's probably worth it.
    I don't know about EE but there are a whole bunch of things here that you need a Professional/Chatered Eng to sign off on, even anchor points for a safety harness.
    In a lot of companies (and more so in government jobs) there is a glass ceiling for people that don't have a PEng/CEng, partly because on many projects you need a sign off - but also there is a feeling that a senior engineer should jump through the hoops.

    Wether the whole PEng thing is itself useful is trickier - its a bit of a old-boys club in that it's easy to get if you work in a company with other Pengs but it's almost impossible if you work in a startup type company.
  4. Feb 1, 2009 #3
    when i co-oped at a large engineering firm, there was one guy with a PE stamp for the electrical department, and one for the controls division. they did engineering work on large factory-type plants. having a PE sign off on drawings is a requirement for certain kinds of government and government-regulated work. usually, this involves either public monies and/or human life/health issues. you get to wear a suit and make much more than average and maybe don't do engineering work at all.
  5. Feb 4, 2009 #4
    As you interview companies, ask to speak with some engineers...check to see what they say about the MEE and PE....absent any other input, you have two choices regarding the MEE: go full time and pay for it yourself; go part time while you work,get paid, and have the company pay for your education....the latter is likely more challenging but you'll be WAY ahead financially...perhaps a quarter million dollars....
  6. Feb 4, 2009 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Which country are you in, and where to you anticipate working? At least in the high-tech industry that I'm familiar with, I don't think there are many PE EEs. I don't think I know of any, actually. As others have said, there are industries where it is probably more common.
  7. Feb 6, 2009 #6
    I'm in the US. Raleigh/Durham area in North Carolina. So you think there is no point going after it, or would being one of the few PE be a huge help?

    Are you sure about a quarter million because that sounds extremely high for an engineering salary? Also, why is the second option so much more profitable? I am pretty sure that I will go for a MEE at some point, so you guys think I should work a few years first, even if I get into the grad school I want straight out of undergrad?
  8. Feb 6, 2009 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm not sure. I think the Raleigh area is pretty high tech, so the PE may not help much. But if there are some specialty companies like government contractors, it might help. Best to call up their recruiting offices to ask.

    I think he meant that amount would be the difference in earnings over your career, not in a year.
  9. Feb 6, 2009 #8
    what sort of field do you wish to specialize in? will there even be PEs where you work to apprentice under?
  10. Feb 6, 2009 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I think it would be beneficial to have a PE at some point. Some jobs actually require it...others prefer it...and some don't care either way.

    I think he is implying you'll come out 250K ahead based on the assumption the company will pay for graduate school - not that you'll have a 250K salary. However, I've never personally known a company to pay all of the cost for an engineer to go to grad school. The past few that I have worked for would only pay a maximum of $5,000 per year. I guess it depends on the company though.

  11. Feb 6, 2009 #10


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The electrical utility company,here in Kansas, I worked for would give you a better salary with a PE.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook