One of the more uncomfortable parts of the Professional Engineer (PE) application is getting personal references. Let’s face it; we engineers aren’t social creatures by nature. You know the stereotype; nerdy engineer with no social skills. Maybe getting a reference from someone is something you feel uneasy about.
Regardless, it’s a hurdle you’ll have jump in order to get your PE license. So where do you start?
Who Do I Ask?
In general, you will need a few references from existing licensed professional engineers who are familiar with your work. These references should be familiar with your actual “engineer” efforts and can personally assure that you are a competent and ethical engineer. The best people to ask are your direct supervisor, your co-workers, or a company mentor.
What Do I Need?
Go to your state’s engineering board to find the exact forms you will need. Usually this will be a general form with the typical information about your reference such as their name, position, license number, etc.
How Do I Ask?
Be professional and ask someone to be your reference IN PERSON or ON THE PHONE. They are doing you a favor so you want to be personable and thankful. You can even offer to take them to lunch or setup a formal meeting to discuss it.
This person is personally vouching for your work and is ultimately putting their own professional reputation behind you. The least you can do is be personable about it and show them genuine gratitude.
If you are younger in your career, you will want to keep this in mind. Begin thinking about who you would ask and make sure to build repoire with them. It will be a lot easier asking someone if you already have a good working relationship with them.
Make sure you give all the required forms to your reference and explain clearly what you need them to do. This will include your written experience record as well as pre-addressed envelopes (with postage!) for them to mail the documents back to the state engineering board. You may have to discuss your background with them and remind them of the various things you worked on.
As a PE, they’ll likely be familiar with what’s needed but it may have been many years since they been a reference or completed their own PE application.
You want to make this as easy as possible for them to complete so give them clear direction.
It is your responsibility to follow up with your reference to ensure that everything is completed. You should also follow up with your state’s board to ensure that all forms have been received and other requirements have been met.
Sample Reference Letter
The following is a sample reference letter for you to use when asking licensed professional engineers for the references required for your PE application process.
Feel free to copy this text into your editor and replace the fields with whatever is applicable to your situation. This is just a guide to get you started.
This note is a FOLLOW UP after you have formally asked them to be a reference for you IN PERSON or BY PHONE.
Dear [FILL IN NAME],
Thank you for serving as a reference on my application for registration as a Professional Engineer. Since you are well acquainted with the type of work required in most of the positions that I have held, I ask that you review my experience record and serve as a licensed engineer reference. Enclosed is a reference statement, my experience record, and a pre-addressed envelope for your use.
Please perform the following actions on my behalf:
- Complete the Reference Statement Application Form
- Review my written Experience Record
- Sign each page of my Experience Record
- Mail the documents using the provided pre-addressed envelopes.
If I can offer any further information, please call me at [INSERT YOUR CONTACT INFO]. Thanks again for your assistance.
[INSERT YOUR NAME]
DISCLAIMER: Again make sure you check your local state engineering board’s website to see if there are specific requirements you must fulfill. Keep in mind that every state has their own variation of the requirements; though most times you will be asked to provide a couple references.