What Happens After You Pass the NCEES FE Exam?
If you have just passed your NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, congratulations! You’re now considered an Engineer in Training (EIT) or Engineering Intern (EI). While you’ll probably want to go celebrate, remember—there’s still work to be done before you’re a professional engineer.
Steps to Take after Passing the FE Exam
Whether taking the FE exam is behind you, or right around the corner, let’s discuss what happens after your pass the NCEES FE exam. Here are those steps, in brief:
Send your transcript to the state board where you want certification
You’ll receive your EIT certificate in the mail
Start studying for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam
Network and make connections with other engineers
Gain engineering work experience
Do engineers need a PE license to practice?
While many have opted to pass on the opportunity to obtain a Professional Engineer license due to lack of time or willingness, it’s important to remember that a PE license separates you from the crowd. It often means you can earn more money and might be the deciding factor for an employer debating between two qualified candidates. You can call yourself whatever you’d like, but you’re not considered an engineer until you’ve received your PE license.
How soon can I take the PE Exam after passing the FE Exam?
The simple answer is; it varies by state. For the most part, EITs can take the PE exam once they’ve successfully passed the FE and have acquired four years of approved engineering experience. We’ll explore gaining relative experience in the sections below. But, it’s worth noting that some states allow EITs to take the PE exam before accruing their four years of experience. The experience is still required, but it’s not a prerequisite for the exam in some states.
Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.
Engineering Work Experience
You see, even though you’ve passed that FE exam, which is a wonderful accomplishment, the PE exam requires that you have knowledge gained in engineering practice—four years of engineering practice to be exact (in most states).
Once you’ve agreed that a PE license is something you want to attain, you’ll want to get an entry-level engineering job. Because you’re an EIT, you’ll be required to work under the supervision of a registered professional engineer.
Building an Entry-Level Engineer Resume
Gaining the required engineering experience means you’ll need to put together a resume. You’re just starting out, so if you don't have a great deal of relevant work experience when applying, be sure to emphasize the skills that you’ve used in other non-technical positions, such as management skills or public speaking experience. Also, be sure to include courses related to your field or intended career.
Here are some good sections to incorporate into your entry-level engineer resume:
Contact information: Your full name, phone number, email address, and links to your professional website or networking sites.
Objective statement: Share your skills, and goals to give employers more information on your background and qualifications.
Skills: Highlight your skills relevant to engineering - problem-solving, equipment/software knowledge, math skills, etc.
Education: List your engineering education, including the coursework, extracurricular activities, and the name of each school.
Experience: Remember to add volunteer work, internships, and work experience, including the duties and responsibilities of those positions.
Certifications: List your engineering certifications as well as the name of the certifying institution.
Searching for Engineering Jobs
Strategies for finding engineering job opportunities include:
Networking on job searching websites
Working with your school advisor
Searching on company websites in their “careers” section
Exploring engineering-focused forums or job search websites
Before you graduate, check in with your school advisers to see if they can guide you in finding an opportunity in your area. Otherwise, you can search the internet’s many job websites - including Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn. You can also simply send out resumes to companies for which you’d like to work. According to Payscale.com, some of the most popular employers for those with an EIT certification include major engineering players like Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
Even if you’re not sure about the specific job you want, the above strategies can help you discover your interests and narrow down your search. Maybe you’re interested in jobs with a specific title, or within a certain company, or an area of expertise within an industry.
As you learn more about your preferences and the entry-level engineering job market, it’s time to begin applying for those jobs. Explore ways to tailor your resume and cover letter to each of the positions individually. This may seem like an extra (read: unnecessary) step, but incorporating keywords from the job listing and company website into your resume and cover letter can help you stand out from the other applicants.
Preparing for, and Passing, the PE Exam
Once you’ve gained all of the necessary experience, you’ll want to start preparing for the PE exam. Be sure to contact your state engineering licensure board, because most states require that applications be submitted well in advance.
Remember, the format and subject matter of each discipline’s test varies. For example, the PE Environmental exam is an 8-hour, open-book exam that consists of 50 multiple-choice questions in the morning session and 50 multiple-choice questions in the afternoon. It covers engineering areas such as water, solid waste, air, and environmental health and safety.
On the other hand, the Civil Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam is an exam of breadth consisting of 40 multiple-choice questions. It is also open-book, but contains questions from civil engineering areas such as transportation, geotechnical, construction, and structural.
Just like for the FE exam, PPI offers a series of test prep materials for the PE exam. Be sure to browse PPI's offerings and select the exam in the area that pertains to you. Congratulations and best of luck in the next steps of your engineering career!