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Pros and Cons to taking the FE Exam as an Electrical Engineer?

  1. Oct 13, 2011 #1
    So a lot of my engineering friends not in EE are required to take the FE exam, but I noticed that it was not required for my major. I am graduating in December, and so far out of the dozens of companies I have applied to only 1 has asked me to take the exam.

    I guess I am wondering is why don't EEs have to take the FE exam? What benefits does an EE Get from taking the exam?

    btw FE Exam = Fundamentals of Engineering Exam.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 13, 2011 #2


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    Well......the purpose of the FE exam (8 hour state exam)....is to qualify you for the PE exam. (8 hour state exam)

    PE stands for professional engineer. When you graduate with a bachelors in EE...you are really not even allowed to call yourself an engineer....you simply have a bachelors degree in in engineering.

    Some jobs want you to be a PE. If you look closely, many say P.E.'s preffered.

    Personally, I did not take the FE in college. I actually waited 7 years out of college to take it. I landed a new job and they were all over me saying....."what do you mean you don't have your PE....why not?". So I said....ok, I'll take it.

    The FE covers roughly the 12 different phases of engineering......and it basically verifies that you actually learned something in college.

    Being out of college so long, I studied for 6 months.....roughly about 250 hours of review. They make a great review book btw. The test is 8 hours long......turned out I passed it.

    Since I had 4 years experience in the engineering field (required), I decided to take the PE right after it. The PE covers your specific discipline....electrical for example in my and your case. I had taken the afternoon electrical for the FE....so I was already kind of hot on electrical....and studying. I studied for about 3 months for the PE....roughly 150 hours and passed it first shot. So now I am state certified and I get the little letters after my name on my business card....and on my resume. John Smith, P.E. for example.

    Can an engineer be great without a PE? Absolutely.

    Can an engineer be lousy with a PE? Absolutely.

    For the most part, having a PE is a good thing. It's kinda like the bar exam for lawyers and the CPA exam for accountants.

    Click on this link....should have lots of additional information.

    http://www.ncees.org/Exams.php [Broken]

    To answer your question why some degrees require it and some don't....not sure.

    I'm an EE and my current company sure wanted me to get it. And yes, upon passing the PE I received an insta-raise right on the spot. My company can bill more for me and they have higher credentials....along with myself.

    And yes, both tests are considered very difficult.

    I would suggest taking the FE now....but as you can see....it might not matter. If you have a wife and kids....your odds of passing go down considerably due to time restraints. Best to do when single and fancy free.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  4. Oct 13, 2011 #3


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    Additional benefits of PE is that you will have the ability to stamp drawings. Kind of a state stamp like notarys have....except it will say professional engineer and your name.

    Also, job security and salary are considered by most to go up.

    Also, my PE certificate does not say that I am an electrical engineer.....just professional engineer.

    It is the same for all fields.

    Also, it is too late to take the October exam....start looking into the April 2012 version right now.
  5. Oct 13, 2011 #4
    At my school it is required for the M.S.E.E. degree and there are many good reasons for that as listed previously.

    I also think that any engineer worth his salt should be licensed. The only reason most engineers never have to take it is because of an industrial exemption clause, if that did not exist a lot of engineers would not be able to practice at all.

    It's an easy exam, just take it.
  6. Oct 13, 2011 #5


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    Easy exam? Hmmmm....maybe so to smart guys like Patrick....but you can see I had to study extensively......what I lack in brains I make up for in excessive studying.

    Many people at my company have taken the FE five or more times and still failed.

    Many people are on their 8th attempt for the PE.

    That being said....here's the easiest equation you will see on either test.

    Excessive studying = Passing score.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
  7. Oct 13, 2011 #6
    I studied extensively as well, and if you do that it is easy. It's just a feat to stay focused for that long.

    I recommend the guide written by Lindeburg for the general section, he schedules a good pace and the practice questions are a little bit harder than the actual exam. I didn't use a study guide for the EE section so I can't recommend one. There's a ridiculous amount of feedback controls and digital logic.
  8. Oct 13, 2011 #7


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    Like Patrick says.....Lindeburg is the dude.

    Every conceivable study guide for FE or PE is right here:

    http://ppi2pass.com/ppi/PPI [Broken]

    The afternoon section of the FE is ridiculously hard. Whether you take the electrical section or the general section.

    PE is the same way. They pump of the difficulty of the test when they know you are getting tired and worn out in the afternoon.

    There are many opinions on what the actual needed passing scores on these tests....but after much investigating and so forth...you need the following scores on on multiple choice tests to pass. A, B, C, and D are the possible answers to each question.

    Passing score for FE....50% (in my opinion)

    Passing score for PE....70% (in my opinion)

    And yes, the PE is more difficult....and you need a higher score to pass.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  9. Oct 13, 2011 #8


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    As far as the FE exam.....some colleges are better than others.

    There are some people who can pass it without studying. For the other 95% of us, this test will not be passed with studying the Lindeburg study guide and at least taking the practice test. If you take the practice test and score over a 50%...you are ready to pass the real thing. You'll be suprised how hard it is to achieve the 50%.

    As far as the PE test.....pretty much only genius's will pass this test without studying.
  10. Oct 13, 2011 #9

    jim hardy

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    my two cents:
    i advise taking it and getting the PE license. We live in a credentials oriented world and it'll make your salary higher.

    But i advise don't buy the PE stamp because everybody and his brother will be asking you to stamp his plans for a garage or room addition, and you don't want the legal liability for your friends and neighbors' DIY projects. "I never bought the stamp" gets you off that hook.
  11. Oct 13, 2011 #10


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    lol....this is true.

    If you ever want to start your own business tho.....then that stamp will come into play.
  12. Oct 19, 2011 #11


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    Here's a perfect example of credentials. CAD guy at company XYZ has 30 years experience. He doesn't have an engineering degree, yet is one of the companies best "engineers". He knows how to do a project before you even give it to him. He is more knowledgable than most of the engineers.

    Yet.....on average, he makes roughly $20,000 less than less experienced engineers ....and roughly $40,000 less than a less experienced P.E. that knows 10% of what the CAD guy knows. And sure the P.E. knows a bunch of stuff in different areas....the CAD guy knows the stuff that actually matters at work.

    Is it fair? No, but no one ever said life was fair.

    Credentials matter.

    And let's say a PE does make 20 K per year more than a non PE engineer. Over 30 years of work that is $600,000!!

    Get your P.E.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011
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