There are so many engineers out there today that are unemployed and desperately searching for their next job, or as I like to call it, next opportunity.  When looking for your next opportunity there are so many factors to consider such as, location, size of company, salary, benefits, type of work to be done, etc.  One of the things that many younger engineers fail to consider is the impact that the job will have on their ability to obtain their professional engineering (PE) license.

In my opinion, the professional engineering license is THE MOST IMPORTANT credential that you can obtain as an engineer, regardless of the discipline of engineering which you practice.  Not only does the license give you credibility, and instantly bolster your reputation, but it also gives you flexibility with respect to career opportunities.  For example, let’s say you have your PE license and you get laid off, one option you’ll have with the PE license is to start your own firm or do some private consulting.  This option would not be available without the license.

Another big benefit of the PE license is that it is not discipline specific.  Therefore if you decide that you want to go from working as a mechanical engineer to working as a civil engineer, with respect to your license, you can certainly do that.  There is a code of ethics that exists to guard against engineers practicing in areas that they are not familiar with, however as long as you learn your new field, you can conform with those guidelines.  The important thing to note here is that if you want to switch between engineering disciplines, the ability to do so, will most likely be easier with a PE license because that in itself is something that is very attractive to engineering companies, depending on the discipline.

So when considering a new engineering job, consider the following with respect to obtaining your PE license:

·       Check the guidelines (and/or application) for licensure in your State to understand the type of work that is required (i.e. design work only, or design and inspection work)

·       Ask prospective employers during the interview process if you will be doing engineering work that is in line with the State requirements for licensure

·       Make prospective companies aware of your intention to pursue your PE license and ask them if they are supportive of their engineers pursuing it (some companies might not be if the PE license is not necessarily needed in their industry – although I still say get it)

·       Find out (whether you ask directly or do your own research) if the person you wil be working under is a licensed PE

While these may sound like simple and obvious things to do, unfortunately there are engineers who work for 4 years and then go to submit the PE exam application only to find out that a large portion of the work they did is not acceptable based on the local experience guidelines.  Please don’t let this happen to you, it could prolong your ability to get your PE license by years, which could seriously hamper your engineering career development.

This is a guest post by Anthony Fasano, PE, author of Engineer Your Own Success. Anthony found success as an engineer at a very early age and now writes and podcasts to help other engineers do the same. Visit Anthony’s website and subscribe to the top 3 resources Anthony has used to become a partner in a firm at the age of 27.


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