A career goal for civil engineers should be to become a licensed Professional Engineer, or PE. A PE takes responsibility that projects she designs and oversees protect and promote the health, safety and welfare of the public. Since most civil engineering projects directly impact the public, licensure is a necessity to progress in our field.
As a PE, you will have the right to publicly represent yourself as an engineer. In Arizona, only PEs may call themselves engineers. Through licensure, you are recognized to have the necessary academic and professional experience to practice in the engineering profession. From a personal perspective, since a PE is capable of taking on more responsibility, you are more valuable to an employer, command a higher salary and have more advancement opportunities. The National Society of Professional Engineers provides furthe details on the benefits of licensure.
Process for Becoming a PE
The path that civil engineering graduates from the UA will follow is:
- Take and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering, or FE, exam as a junior or senior or soon after graduation.
- Register as an Engineer in Training, or EIT, after passing the FE exam and graduating from our ABET-accredited Bachelor of Science in civil engineering degree program.
- Take and pass the PE exam. In Arizona, candidates can take the PE exam as early as one year after graduation.
- Gain four years of professional experience after graduation working under the supervision of a registered PE.
- Obtain three professional references and apply to become a registered PE in the state in which you pass the exam and practice. In many cases, you may become licensed in other states after demonstrating knowledge of local regulations and practices.
Fundamentals of Engineering Exam
The Fundamentals of Engineering, or FE, exam is typically the first step in the process leading to a PE license. It is designed for recent graduates and students who are close to finishing an undergraduate engineering degree. The FE exam is a national exam administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, or NCEES, and results are transferable between all states.
The test consists of 110 multiple-choice questions and lasts six hours including breaks. It is offered in seven engineering disciplines, including civil engineering. The NCEES offers more information about the distribution of exam material on various topics.
FE Exam Registration
The computer-based FE exam is administered and can be taken year-round at NCEES-approved Pearson VUE test centers. To register for the exam, which requires a $225 fee, sign up on the NCEES website.
The Arizona Board of Technical Registration does not require examinees from ABET-accredited institutions such as the University of Arizona to submit an application or an additional fee prior to registering with NCEES and scheduling an exam.
Exam Review Resources
The University of Arizona chapter of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society offers video review sessions led by faculty volunteers.
Some resources are available on the Texas A&M University FE review page.
The CEEM department also has review manuals to loan to students. See your civil engineering faculty mentor or the advising office.
You are not an Engineer in Training until you have completed your BS degree in civil engineering and registered with your state board of registration. In Arizona, you must complete the In Training Designation form (PDF) and submit it with a payment of $40. (Further information is available on Arizona State Board of Technical Registration application documents page, under the Engineers menu.
The PE exam is administered each April and October as a pencil and paper exam. It is eight hours in total, with the morning portion covering the breadth of civil engineering and the afternoon your specialization within civil engineering. In Arizona, you are eligible to take this exam once you are an EIT and demonstrate one year of work experience after graduation. You must apply to sit for the PE exam through the Arizona Board of Technical Registration at least eight weeks before the exam, and then register through the NCEES to take the examination. We encourage our alumni to take the exam as soon as possible after graduation.