Preparing for the PE exam is so much work that it’s easy to overlook what happens when you pass. It’s like when a movie character has an elaborate plan, gets to a certain point, then goes “I didn’t think I’d get this far!” when asked what’s next. Well today, I’m going to show you just what you need to do after passing the PE exam so you don’t need to wonder anymore.
The first step after passing the PE Exam is to get your Professional Engineer’s license. You’ll need to check your state’s requirements for getting licensed, fill out their application, then submit it. In most cases you’ll also transmit your NCEES record to your state to verify everything.
Note that passing the PE Exam does not automatically make you a Professional Engineer. You must apply with your state’s board to get your official license and call yourself a PE.
It’s also important to celebrate this major accomplishment. You’ve just done something that not a lot of people will ever do that sets you apart personally and professionally. You deserve to be proud of your hard work and to enjoy that with some celebration before anything else!
I’ll explain the process for you from my experience applying and getting my PE license in Utah, which is similar to how it works in many states.
After You Pass the PE Exam
There are really just two major steps to getting your PE license (in most states) after passing the PE exam:
- Apply for your Professional Engineer’s license with your state board.
- Transmit your NCEES record to your state’s board.
As part of the application, you’ll need to make sure you’ve completed the following:
- Education. Most states require a 4-year engineering degree from an ABET-accredited university. There are some exceptions to this, though. You’ll need to provide transcripts to verify this.
- Experience. Usually you’ll need at least 4 years of qualifying experience to be verified by the Professional Engineer you worked under.
- Exams. You must pass the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) and Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam (PE) to become a licensed Professional Engineer. Some states do let you skip the FE if you have enough experience, but it’s usually not worth it.
- The Application. You can access the application for your specific state board at their website, and you can find your state board’s website at this link. Most applications involve verifying your education, exams, and experience, and answering a few questions, some of which are about whether or not you’ve been involved in any criminal activity.
- Paying a Fee. This varies widely, I’ve seen it less than $100 for some states, while others are a few hundred dollars.
So what you’ll want to do after you pass the PE Exam is find your state board’s application, fill it out, pay the fee, and, in most cases, transmit your NCEES record to that state. This makes the application much easier as many states let you skip sections if you’ve done it. Keeping your NCEES record up to date is also the easiest way to get licensed in other states.
To complete your NCEES record, log in or create a MyNCEES account at this link. There are eight sections of the record to complete:
- Contact Information. This includes your name, address, email, phone number, and emergency contact information.
- Personal Information. You’ll enter your name and birthday here.
- Education Information. In this section you’ll include the university you went to and the dates. You’ll have to verify this with transcripts.
- Exam & License Verification. Here you’ll have your exam information already added, you can’t change that. You can also verify your licenses in each state, for getting licensed in other states.
- Work Experience. This is where you’ll declare your 4-years of work experience, as I described above. It must be verified by the PE you worked under.
- Professional References. You’ll need five professional references, three of which must be licensed PE’s. None of the references may be related to you.
- Time Gaps. Declare what you were doing during any time gaps in your education or experience. This section should be thrown out in my opinion because it doesn’t matter, but you have to do it for now, so just get it done.
- Questions for the Applicant. This includes questions about revoked or suspended licenses, which you won’t have yet if you’re getting licensed for the first time. It also asks about your criminal history.
Note that many of the sections of the NCEES record are the same as what’s on most state PE applications. That’s why using your NCEES record is so nice because it lets you skip most of those sections on most state applications! It makes getting licensed in other states super easy, too.
Once you’re done with your NCEES record you’ll have the option to review and transmit it to any state board. It usually costs $75 to transmit your record to a state board, but it’s worth it to avoid having to do all that paperwork over again!
What I Did After Passing the PE Exam
The best part about the NCEES record is that you can start it before you pass the PE exam. I wanted to get licensed asap after passing the PE, so I actually worked on the application and my NCEES record while I was still studying and finished most of it while waiting for my results.
By the time I found out I’d passed the PE Exam, I’d completed and verified my work experience, education, and exams (of course), and answered all the questions.
My whole application was ready to go so that the moment I found out, I was ready to hit submit to my state’s board. I was in email contact with them to ask some questions, so I politely asked if they could expedite my application.
Within just a few hours of submitting the application and transmitting my NCEES record, I got an email from my state board with my license number in it. Although it was kind of anticlimactic to receive it that way, I was a licensed Professional Engineer!
This may not be typical for every state, though. Some do take longer and will require additional work to get submitted.
Oh and to celebrate I took my wife out for some prime rib at Texas Roadhouse! That was a few hours after actually finding out I’d passed. At that moment, I jumped so high that I almost hit the ceiling and screamed so loud in excitement that I think I scared my kids a little bit. They’ll be grateful for it someday though, right?
So in summary, after passing the PE exam, the first step is to get licensed. To do this, you must apply with your state board and, in most cases, transmit your NCEES record to them.
It’s that simple, and once you hear back from them and get your license number, you’ll be a licensed Professional Engineer!