Structural Engineer (SE) Licensure Explained
Jon Vandergrift posted on March 05, 2011 | 46627 views

 Structural Engineer (SE) Licensure Explained

 

Engineering professionals of all disciplines (electrical, civil, mechanical, structural, etc…) in the United States are charged with “protecting the safety, health and welfare of the general public.”  Because of this responsibility, all 50 states currently require a PE licensure to practice engineering within their geographic bounds.  In the last decade, there has been a movement across the nation to better the life safety of our structures by requiring a separate licensure for structural engineers.

 

Practicing structural engineering carries an inherently large risk.  A failure in a structural system, as evidenced by the recent parking deck failures at South Park Mall and 6100 Fairview, can result in fatalities and incur substantial rehabilitation costs.  Over the years, engineers and code officials have learned from these failures and implemented more rigorous structural design procedures.

 

Advances in understanding the impact of natural forces on buildings have also led to more complicated requirements for structural analysis.  The failures of buildings due to earthquakes (i.e. California Northridge earthquake, 1994 and Japan’s Kobe earthquake, 1995), hurricanes, and tornados have resulted in new approaches on how we design buildings to respond to seismic and wind events.  Engineers now incorporate these lessons learned in the design of structures to prevent catastrophic failures under extreme events; some structures such as hospitals and police and fire stations must remain operational even after an event.

 

Due to the risk involved and the increased complexity of structural design requirements, ten states (see attached table) have begun to recognize structural engineers separately from professional engineers and increase their licensing requirements.  Because each state has its own licensing board, there is a large variation in the requirements to obtain an SE license and the significance an SE license carries.  An effort is underway to develop a national SE certification, but is years away from being implemented.

 


 

State

Licensing Requirements

License Provisions

California

Passing NCEES PE & SEII Exams, CA state Civil & Seismic Exams (29hrs)

Requires SE license for schools and hospitals.  CE license required for all other types of structures.  CA Building Design Authority

Hawaii

Passing NCEES Civil or SEI & SEII Exams (16hrs)

Requires SE license for anyone practicing structural engineering.

Idaho

Passing NCEES Civil PE + 2yrs, SEI & SEII Exams (24hrs)

Does not specifically require SE license to practice structural engineering.  Selected Laws & Rules

Illinois

Passing NCEES SEI & SEII Exams (16hrs)

Requires SE license for anyone practicing structural engineering.  Structural Engineer Act

Nebraska

Passing NCEES SEI & SEII Exams (16hrs)

Does not specifically require SE license to practice structural engineering.  NE Board of Eng FAQ

Nevada

Passing NCEES Civil PE, SEI & SEII Exams (24hrs)

Requires an SE license on specialty structures such as radio towers and signs over 100ft in height and buildings more than three stories or 45ft in height.  Nevada Administrative Code

New Mexico

Passing NCEES PE + 4yrs of structural experience (8hrs) or NCEES SEI & SEII (16hrs)

Does not specifically require SE license to practice structural engineering.

Oregon

Passing NCEES PE & SEII Exams, WA state Seismic Exam (24hrs)

Requires an SE license for hazardous facilities, special occupancy structures, essential facilities over 4,000sq ft in ground area or 20ft in height, structures with irregular features, and buildings over 4 stories or 45ft in height.  Oregon Revised Statutes 672

Utah

Passing NCEES Civil PE, SEI & SEII Exams (24hrs)

Requires SE license for buildings and other structures representing a substantial hazard to human life, essential facilities, and buildings requiring special consideration.  Utah PE & PLS Licensing Act

Washington

Passing NCEES PE & SEII Exams, WA state Seismic Exam (24hrs)

Requires an SE license for hazardous facilities, special occupancy structures, essential facilities over 5,000sq ft in ground area or 20ft in height, structures with irregular features, and buildings over 5 stories or 100ft in height, bridges with spans over 200ft, piers with surface area greater than 10,000sq ft and structures where 300 people or more congregate.

 

  • Requirements above are in addition to passing NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) FE Exam (8hrs)
  • Requirements are in addition to years of service mandated by each state for licensure (typically 4 yrs)

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