So why would anyone want to become a professional engineer (PE)? With the long list of requirements and grueling hours of studying, surely there isn’t anyone that crazy?
Being a Professional Engineer is an accomplishment, which can tremendously enhance your engineering career. A lot like obtaining a post-graduate degree or some technical skill certification, it’s a versatile tool, which can help your career both in management and technical positions. And it’s not just about being able to add the title of P.E. after your name (although face it, that’s cool too). The professional engineer license gives you a measure of competency, reliability, and professionalism.
Here are a few specific reasons why becoming a PE is in your best interest:
There Are Legal Needs
Engineers are just like any other highly skilled profession in that they are governed by specific rules and regulations. Numerous engineering jobs both in private industry and in governmental organizations legally require that a professional engineer fill them. This is because you need a PE license in order to legally practice and provide engineering services.
Think about it. You want your doctor to have the proper training and credentials right? You want your accountant to know what he’s talking about with your money right? The same can be said for the engineer designing that bridge you drive over everyday. People want to know that the person doing that public service work is fully qualified and competent.
One of the biggest requirements along these lines is that only a registered professional engineer can stamp recognized engineering documents for public and professional customers. This is a formal seal issued by the practicing engineer’s state board and can be used on things such as computer assisted drawing (CAD) designs, structural evaluation reports, equipment settings sheets, or development proposals.
A few examples of areas that normally require a PE for particular technical careers include city service firms, engineering consulting services, and public utility businesses (think the electric company for example). Another example is that if you ever plan to open your own engineering company, you will need to become licensed.
It Can Help Your Career Progression
The fact of the matter is that an engineering license might be a major boost in helping you climb the corporate ladder in any company. This is true whether your job path goes on a traditional technical route or if you aspire to join the managerial ranks. The reasoning behind all of this is that a lot of employers in the aforementioned industrial sectors require a job applicant to be a PE for senior engineering jobs. These roles usually have substantial project responsibilities and often times will need to have someone with the ability to stamp documents. This insures quality control and standard industry practices.
Another great benefit for PE’s is that some companies provide bonuses or salary increases for acquiring a license. The license can provide numerous advantages which is why someone with it can increase their value to their company.
In many cases manager roles that have engineers reporting directly to them may need a PE license to get the position. This setup is especially critical for un-licensed engineers who are looking to fulfill experience requirements so that they can one day get their own license.
It Highlights Expertise and Credibility
Finally, there is a level of prestige that comes with being a professional engineer. In such highly specialized and technical industries, professional engineers have a level of respect from colleagues in their professional circles. The PE credential is something that shows you have the knowledge and competency to be an engineer. It shows you have legitimate working experience, that you practice continual learning, and that you act in an ethical manner. Like anything else, more skins on your wall help with credibility.