All 50 States in the U.S. offer engineering licenses to applicants with the appropriate credentials. Although other nations have similar programs, Professional Engineering Licenses issued in the United States are respected internationally, so the citizens of other nations often seek licensure here.
Although PE Licenses are issued, and regulated, by the individual states, the tests and general requirements for licensure are arbitrated at the national level. Our history page gives a brief treatment of Oregon's program and the part the PEO has played.
Our nationwide program of engineering licensure was developed early in this century, to provide the general public with a means to ensure that an individual claiming to be an engineer is, in fact, qualified to practice engineering.
All 50 states now have statutes that regulate engineering licensure and an individual's (or company's) ability to offer "Engineering Services" to the general public in that state. A strong program of Engineering Licensure ensures the public safety and promotes ethical conduct.
Most States offer licensure in a variety of engineering disciplines or "practices", like Mechanical, Civil or Electrical Engineering. The scope of the license can vary from state to state, but the idea that a licensed individual is qualified to practice a particular branch of engineering is the common theme.
The requirements for an engineering license are usually defined by state statute and regulated by a state agency, generally termed a "Board of Engineering Examiners". Oregon presently leads the nation with a pilot program that slightly decouples the Board from the State, to promote a more responsive and cost-effective organization.
For more information about Oregon's requirements, our pilot program, and our Board, visit the website of the Oregon Board of Engineering Examiners and Land Surveyors (OSBEELS).
The requirements for licensure vary from state to state, but generally include a Bachelor's degree in Engineering (from an accredited school) and demonstrable engineering experience under the supervision of another licensed individual.
The states usually also require an affirmation of the applicant's good character from a licensed individual, and also from one or more member(s) of the general public.
Applicants with qualifying education and experience must pass two, rigorous tests (standardized in all states). The first test (the "Fundamental Exam") measures the applicant's proficiency in the basic disciplines of engineering (science & mathematics), while the second one (the "Professional Exam") challenges their professional ability to solve engineering problems.
Both tests (FE and PE) are prepared by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), and administered by licensed personnel, on the same day, in all 50 States. For more information about the tests, and the testing process, visit the NCEES website.
All states expect their licensees to remain current in their discipline(s). Many states, like Oregon, require formal documentation, others have more general expectations. For more background on programs of continuing education, and other issues of concern to America's licensed engineers, visit the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) website.
Oregon now offers both the Fundamental and the Professional exams in numerous foreign countries, particularly Japan, Korea, and Malaysia. For these applicants, obtaining a professional license in the United States is a means to become, and remain, competitive in the world-wide engineering market.
Foreign applicants are increasingly successful in obtaining full licensure as Oregon Professional Engineers. This is particularly impressive because the exams are administered only in English, which is often their second language! We salute these international achievers!
The engineering community is both responsible for, and subject to, our society's rapid pace of change. One important issue arising from this flux is "software engineering". No state presently offers a license in the practice of Software Engineering, although Texas has recently begun the process. This is not a simple matter because it requires several levels of nationwide preparation.
The first step is to develop a curriculum attractive to both academia and industry, and approvable by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Then the NCEES must develop the test(s). And finally, the test(s) must be administered by the states. As you may imagine, this will take some time, but it is begun!
Although issues will certainly arise, Texas is to be congratulated on their proactive decision! The Licensed Engineers of the nation are watching ...and helping. For more information about ABET's role in the future of America's education.