Qualifying Work Experience

How does the state really know what kind of work I've been doing?
The state bases its decision on the descriptions of your work experience that you and your references provide.

What kind of experience will qualify me to take the PE exam?

Only experience wherein you have made use of your engineering knowledge will count.

Is research in graduate school qualifying experience?
It can be. It depends on what you did. If you only did academic research in the library or on the Internet, it won't count. If you were working in the lab, it could very well count.

What about CAD?

Probably not.

Is teaching at the college level count as qualifying experience?

Most states will give some credit for teaching engineering courses. Generally, the full experience requirement cannot be satisfied with just teaching.

Military experience?

All branches of the military have engineers doing genuine engineering work. In this regard, the military is just like any other employer, and the engineering work experience counts. However, work performed by "combat engineers", electronic repair technicians, and so on is generally not true engineering work.

What kinds of work are not qualifying?

The following activities are generally not considered to be engineering work: drafting, customer service, marketing, inspection, clerical and administrative support, construction and construction site work, site cleanup, safety coordination, newsletter writing, quality control/inspection, management and supervision of nonengineers, writing policies and procedures, accounting, writing (reading, or interpreting) manufacturers' literature, compliance checking, plan checking, field verification, code compliance, contract administration, and architectural detailing.

I have never designed anything myself, but I have checked the work of others.
If you have been checking the work of others, you have been doing engineering. However, this basically requires you to recalculate the design. If all you did was "check the numbers" by punching them into a calculator, then you haven't been doing engineering.

Are there certain terms that would be "red flags" on my application?
While impressive titles are often misleading, low-level titles (e.g. "junior engineer," "draftsperson," "sales associate," "inspector") are usually indicative of the true nature of the job.

My work included some non-engineering and sub-engineering elements. What do I do?
Most engineers spend a portion of our time doing nonengineering work. Don't try to hide or misrepresent your nontechnical work. If it is substantial, you can assign a percentage to your experience, and that will be accepted by the state. For example, if you have 6 years of work experience and you spent 33% of your time drafting the designs that you developed, then you really have only 4 years of work experience.

What about work experience before I graduated?
There certainly are exceptions, but the state board is going to wonder how you could be doing engineering work without the benefit of an engineering education. Just how were you able to design that roller coaster?

What about work experience in another country?
The work experience does not have to be in the United States. However, it is more difficult to document such experience.

How about design work experience using codes not used in the United States?
The work experience does not have to be based on U.S. codes.