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

How does someone become an Engineer?

  1. Mar 22, 2008 #1
    Hi,

    I believe I might be getting false info. As much as I love Math, Engineering might be right for me. I said let me post on a Ham Radio forum. Yes Ham Radio not Physics forums, not Math forums, no College forums but a Radio forum.

    Here is the reply I have. I believe I don't need to be a PE to be an Engineer? Correct? If an Engineer of my chose I want and it's an undergraduate BS. I just make sure I have the classes the college wants to accept me.

    Is this false info below?

    Actually that is not true. In a lot of states you cannot sign a document as an "engineer" unless your a Professional Engineer (PE) in a number of fields to include electrical and structural. They are considered the best of the best and a number of them that I know have Ph.D's in their associated fields.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 22, 2008 #2
    Get your degree first. Then gain the necessary work experience requirements and write the exams for licensure. Once you have your PE, then you will be an engineer.

    If you don't get a PE, you can still do engineering work, but any design work you do will have to be stamped by a PE be it your supervisor.
     
  4. Mar 22, 2008 #3
    A PE is necessary for most engineering fields. Good to have for most the the rest. The one weird exception is software.
     
  5. Mar 22, 2008 #4

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    A PE is not necessary in aerospace engineering and some other branches of engineering as well. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_Engineer#Unlicensed_practice) has this to say:
     
  6. Mar 22, 2008 #5

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    To sign off on drawing and specs, and perform certain engineering functions, one does need a PE license, and then one can append PE to one's name (legally that is).

    To be an engineer one needs to have at least an undergraduate degree in the sciences or engineering from an accredited university/academic program, and then one can work as an engineer in a company that does engineering. Many companies have levels of engineer, e.g. junior, senior, principal, consulting, etc based on the level of experience.

    If one wants to be an engineer then one should do a 4-yr undergrad program for BS, and probably 1-2 yrs for MS. One could go on and do a PhD program is there is a particular area of research in which one is interested.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2008
  7. Mar 22, 2008 #6
    Like Mutant engineering.
     
  8. Mar 22, 2008 #7

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I don't usually point out typos, but this one seems critical to understanding. Did you mean "one does need..." or did you mean "one does not need..."?

    I presume you meant to say one needs the PE for those functions, but can work as an engineer without it, just someone with a PE needs to sign off on everything (and my impression is this is covered within most engineering firms by having senior staff with PEs who sign off on the more junior staff's work).
     
  9. Mar 22, 2008 #8

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I would say a PE is necessary in few engineering fields and completely irrelevant in most of the rest. A PE enables you to seal permit drawings for approval by the government. So if what you do doesn't require that, you don't need a PE.

    My father is a metallurgical engineer. He worked for Air Products and a German competitor, MG Industries. He knew or had working for him dozens of engineers over his career. Only one was a PE and he never considered getting one himself. It was just irrelevant.

    Companies like Boeing and Exxon employ thousands of engineers. Few are likely to be PEs. And don't forget building engineers and manufacturing engineers. They don't get PEs either.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2008
  10. Mar 22, 2008 #9
    Ok. Does Nuclear Engineering requires a PE?






     
  11. Mar 22, 2008 #10

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It probably depends on what you plan to do with the degree.

    Keep in mind that a PE is a licensing exam taken AFTER you have work experience (this is part of the requirements for taking the exam...I think it's 5 years experience, but I could be remembering wrong...I'm not an engineer, just associate with some of them). If you need it, you'll get the experience and study for it (there are prep courses to help people study for it if you need them). It's so far down the road that it's not worth worrying about. Before it ever becomes an issue, you need to get into an engineering school, graduate from engineering school, and get a job for a few years. If you manage all that, with some studying, you should be able to pass the PE exam if it's required for your job.
     
  12. Mar 22, 2008 #11
    What I did was get a BS EE degree first. Then there were no circuit design jobs in the area where I wanted to live, so I accepted a job in a large company that had plenty of circuit design jobs, none of those departments hiring at the moment, but taking a position doing something else. Then I got myself a transfer to the division of the company that had the circuit design jobs, which still weren't hiring, and I was still doing a different kind of work, but now in the right division. Then they paid me to get my MS EE. In addition to paying the tuition they also made the grad school my full time job for a year, and I lived on an expense account for the year while my paychecks went right into savings. By then it was understood that I would return with a transfer to the product design group.
     
  13. Mar 22, 2008 #12

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    For certain functions at suppliers and utilities - yes, a PE is required. For most applications/jobs, a PE is not necessary.
     
  14. Mar 22, 2008 #13

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Maybe we should back up a little -- you haven't even started college yet. Why are you concerned about this issue? It isn't an issue you really need to even think about until you are ready to start your engineering career. When you pick your field, that will determine whether you need to have a PE (or if it is a good idea but not essential, or if it is completely unnecessary).
     
  15. Mar 23, 2008 #14
    I agree with russ_watters, worry about getting your engineering degree first, worry about getting your PE later on. I am a second year mechanical engineering student, and have talked to engineers who have their PE, as well as engineers who don't have their PE. Both are engineers, the difference is that for some jobs (such as those involving design) you need a PE and for others you don't. It all depends on what you want to do with your engineering degree.

    If you think you are interested in engineering, decide what type of engineering it is that you are interested in, find the schools that offer the program, and apply. It's not a one-chance decision that is going to determine the rest of your life, I know many people who have switched between different engineering disciplines (including myself after first year) as well as many people that have switched from engineering to other programs such as math, life sciences, law, general arts etc...

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that you are getting too far ahead of yourself.
     
  16. Mar 23, 2008 #15

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Why would getting a PE be such a burden that you'd avoid an entire field anyway? The PE is really not that big of a deal.

    (And Russ is right -- many engineering jobs, including my own, do not require a PE.)

    - Warren
     
  17. Mar 23, 2008 #16
    If you make sure your BS is ABET accredited, then you can always deal with this later. And, that accreditation almost guarantees a decent education even if you never consider a PE.
     
  18. Mar 23, 2008 #17

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    That's right - it's no big deal. I took the EIT/Fundamentals during my MS program. That's essentially like an SAT or GRE. To get a PE, all I need to do is sit for an 8 hr exam in the specialty for which I'd get the PE.

    First get the BS in whatever discipline of interest.
     
  19. Mar 23, 2008 #18

    FredGarvin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Like has already been said, a PE license is an exception. There are numerous engineering fields that do not require having a PE.

    Structural, especially when the public health and well being is the only place that you will sign off on something that you have to have a PE. The majority of fields are covered by their employers. If you want to hang out your own shingle and start your own consultant business, you'll need a PE.

    Make sure you go into the field for the right reasons. A HAM operator's board is not a place to go for that information. Talk directly to perspective school counselors.
     
  20. Mar 23, 2008 #19
    offtopic question
    Was it a M.Eng or M.A.Sc.? that they payed for?
     
  21. Mar 23, 2008 #20

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Yeah, one test soon after you graduate college, a little studying and a second one 4+ years later (and an annoying application, but not really a big deal). I'm working on mine now.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: How does someone become an Engineer?
  1. How to become an atheist? (Replies: 110)

  2. How to become a genius ? (Replies: 21)

Loading...