The Guide to Obtaining and Maintaining Professional Licensure
Joel Erway posted on August 25, 2015 |

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve at least considered becoming a licensed engineer or surveyor. You realize the earning potential is greater and so are the opportunities.


However, there are still some questions worth considering, such as: “Is my license valid if I move to another state?” and “What’s required to keep my license active?”


We’ve summarized a few points here to save you time.


Learn About the Unique Requirements of Your State


While the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) is the organization that develops, administers, and scores the licensing exams, the individual State Boards set specific requirements to practicing in their state. Requirements from state licensing boards can vary. Before you begin the steps of actually applying to take part in the licensing process, you are best to explore what your state requires by visiting the State Board website.


There you will find the specific requirements in your state for becoming an Engineer-in-Training (EIT), Land Surveyor-in-Training (LSIT), Professional Engineer (PE), and Professional Land Surveyor (PS). This includes years of experience, education and transcript, references, proof of work history, application costs/fees, and more.


Be sure to verify the specific state requirements for your intended licensure. For a complete list of state board websites, visit this link. You can also find specific contact information for whom to speak with regarding your intended licensure.

Planning for the Licensing Process and Fees

The timeframe for obtaining a license varies depending on your degree of education and work experience.  For example, in the State of New York alone there are 12 variations of requirements for becoming licensed – from as little as four years to 12 years of experience.


You may find it helpful to speak directly with an official at your state’s licensing board about your work experience. Some states allow engineers and surveyors to take the licensing exams before completing their work experience.  That can provide you with a preparation advantage. Note that you will still be required to obtain the proper experience before officially obtaining your license. Use this link for who to contact directly at your state board’s office.


In addition to work experience, plan on spending time preparing your application for each step of the licensing process. While the application for the FE and FS exams is less cumbersome, the process for the PE exam can take nearly half a year.


Preparing your application for state board review of the PE exam is a lot of work in itself. Each state will require a detailed work history outlining your engineering experience. There are very specific requirements for which engineering tasks will be accepted and applied. If you have held multiple jobs with different employers, you will need to have accurate records.


All of your work experience must be verified or endorsed. Although not always required, your work should be endorsed by a supervisor who is also a licensed PE/PS. There are exceptions, but consult with your state board official contact for these.


Use this list to keep track of your records to make it simpler for completing the process:


  • Supervisors name, phone number, and e-mail address
  • Project information: begin and end dates, description, and specific engineering tasks and skills used
  • List of educational experience


Be prepared to invest financially in your license. While fee requirements and amounts vary across states this list can serve as a guideline:


  • NCEES Examination Fee for PE/PS Exam: $350 per exam (As of July 2015)
  • State Application Fee: Range $50 – approximately $400
  • Testing Administration Fee: Not required by all states
  • Transcript Fees From University: Varies by university
  • Notary stamped signature for application: Varies by location
  • Licensing Renewal Fees: Varies by state


TIP: If your intention is to obtain a PE or PS license, you can help streamline this process by building your database of records at the beginning of your career and maintaining the proper ones. Keep contact information such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses for colleagues who may be required to verify your employment history.


Reciprocity Between States


For those who will move or practice in another state during any part of the licensure process, you should be aware of the additional state’s requirements and any special circumstances that will be required to continue your license pursuit.


According to the NYS board, for instance, if you are currently licensed in another state and move to New York, you may be eligible for licensure in New York State if you:


  • Meet all requirements for licensure in New York State, except having completed the examination, and
  • Have been issued a license or a certificate to practice professional engineering upon written examination by a board of examiners in another state or political subdivision of the United States.


It’s critical that you comply with the new state’s requirements for licensure, particularly if you are licensed already in the previous state but do not meet the work experience. All engineers should contact the state board for clarification on what may be required for you to continue practicing as a licensed professional in the new state.


NCEES offers a simplified method to apply for multiple state licensures using NCEES Records. “If you are a record holder, NCEES will electronically submit your materials directly to the state licensing board on your behalf each time you apply for a license. This saves time and simplifies the application process when you need to practice in multiple states.” (Source Link:


Renewals and Continuing Education


As a practicing licensed professional engineer or surveyor, your state may require you to keep up-to-date with the latest industry standards and trends. As proof, you will be required to complete continuing education courses prior to being allowed to renew your license.


In New York State for example, professional engineers and surveyors must renew with the State Education Department every three years to continue practicing their profession and maintain their license status.


Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are also commonly referred to as Professional Development Hours (PDH).  Like most aspects of the licensing process, the amount of hours required will vary by state.


In order for a CEU/PDH to count, the class must be approved by the state board and must be applicable to a particular subject area. It’s common practice for many society groups, associations, and committees to host PDH-approved classes.


Streamlining the Licensing Process

If you are just now considering your license, follow these steps to fast track the process:

1.      Visit your state licensing board website

2.      Review the requirements for each step in the process

   a. FE / FS exam

   b. PE / PS exam

3.      If you haven’t already, start maintaining adequate records of your professional work experience. For each project you are working on, document the following:

   a. Detailed notes on specific engineering or survey related tasks (including formulas used, problems solved, and length of time).

   b. Note the contact information of the project managers and supervising engineers. It will help tremendously if you are working under a licensed engineer or surveyor.

4.      Update your records quarterly until you have acquired all of the requirements to sit for the exam. Be sure to create regular backups for loss prevention.

5.      Register for the exam with the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)

6.      Prepare for the exam using proven, trusted review resources


There are numerous benefits to professional licensure: career advancement and professional recognition are just a few. Having a complete understanding of this process will help reduce the time and allow you to set manageable expectations for your PE/PS goals.


If you are considering PE/PS licensure, the best thing to do is to start now.


Think about what you really need to achieve your goals and research the support available. Start here by checking out the FAQ page at for specifics about the exams, as well as advice from former examinees.



PPI, publisher of quality professional licensing exam review material since 1975, is dedicated to helping engineers pass the exams that propel their careers. They have sponsored promotion of their FE and PE exam review on PPI has no editorial input to this post. All opinions are mine. – Joel Erway.

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