When I was getting ready to get my Professional Engineer’s license I was in graduate school at the same time. I wondered if I could count my master’s degree as part of the 4 years of required experience to get a PE license. I did some research and asked my state board and found some valuable information to help you understand how your master’s degree may count toward a PE license.
In many states, you can count up to 1 year of a Master’s Degree in engineering as part of the 4 years of required experience to get your Professional Engineer’s license. However, you will likely need to complete the degree before it will count. Check your state board’s website to be certain, though.
To find the website for your state board, go to the NCEES engineering exam registration page, select your state and exam, then you should see a link to the board’s site in the text below. Alternatively, you can just search on Google for “[state name] engineering board” to find it.
Once you’re on your state board’s website, find the application to become a licensed Professional Engineer. Once you’re in the application, you’ll have to look through it to determine how a master’s degree may or may not count in your state.
You must do this to verify that your state will let you count your master’s degree toward your required experience to get your PE license. Don’t assume that your state will let you count your master’s degree, find out before you plan to get it or your PE license.
My Experience Getting a Master’s Degree and Becoming a PE
I began my Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering a year or two before it was time for me to take the PE Exam and think about getting licensed. When I started, it wasn’t so that I could get extra experience for my license, I just wanted to learn and get better as an engineer.
But when it came time for me to start thinking about getting licensed, I discovered that becoming a PE with a master’s degree can be faster because some states will let you count up to 1 year of the master’s degree as experience.
That would mean I could get by with only 3 years of experience instead of 4, and possibly get my PE license a whole year sooner than I had thought.
The only problem was, I wasn’t finished with my master’s at the time. So I emailed my state board to ask whether I could still count the year I’d already completed of my master’s. Unfortunately, they told me that I had to finish the entire master’s degree before any of it would count toward my experience.
When it came time to get licensed, I had already finished the 4 years of required experience working full-time but wasn’t done with my master’s. Once I had received my PE Exam results and was applying to get licensed, I didn’t even put my master’s degree on the application and still got my license just fine.
When Counting Your Masters Degree for a PE License Makes Sense
If I had finished my master’s degree right after graduating, then it might have made sense for me to use it to get my PE license faster. But if I had gone in with the intention to get a master’s only to get my PE license faster, it might not have been worth it, at least on my timeline.
Getting a master’s degree is tough, especially if you’re working at the same time. Finishing it right out of your bachelor’s without trying to work full-time may work best. But you might take two or three years to finish it, which adds a whole lot of extra time before you can get your PE license.
The best option may be to finish your bachelor’s, start work, and then slowly get your master’s degree while working. You will need at least 3 years of experience anyway, so you can just divide the coursework up and finish it over a 3-year period.
Becoming a PE with a master’s degree can cut up to one year off of the required experience you need to get licensed. It may not work this way in all states though, so you must check with your own state board.
Counting your master’s degree is likely only possible if you’ve completed it, so it might not always make sense to use that as experience.
Either way, getting a master’s degree is a great idea if you want to become a better engineer, and you don’t necessarily have to use it to become licensed!