Becoming a Professional Engineer can be a big hassle. Studying for the exam takes time away from family and friends. It is another strain to contend with in an already busy and stressful life. After receiving the P.E. designation, maintaining the license requires even more time and energy with Professional Development hours. When it comes time to decide whether to take that extra step, many engineers wonder if it is worth the effort. Yet, the P.E. title carries with it an inherent prestige, a wider range of career opportunities, and, very often, a higher salary.
1. Respect and Trust
Professional Engineers are part of an elite group. Reaching this career milestone signifies to the public that the engineer has mastered high standards of the engineering practice. Other than a simple representation of passing an exam, the license is an indication that the engineer is qualified, trustworthy, and competent. The governing bodies with in the state ensure that the engineer is experienced (4 years), is of good character, and is committed to the profession before granting a license. By doing so, the governing body is signifying a level of trust that the engineer is capable of performing the duties required.
Along with issuing the license to practice, the governing bodies also ensure that Professional Engineers continue to maintain a high level of skill and integrity throughout his or her career with Professional Development hours. These hours push the engineer to remain current with his or her education and contribute to the body of knowledge, driving the entire profession forward.
2. Career Advancement
The initials P.E. after someone’s name can have a profound impact on his or her career. It makes an individual more marketable and is an opportunity to stand out for potential employers. Companies benefit from having more professional engineers on staff because it looks better to potential clients. So, the hiring company will look more favorably on a candidate with a P.E. designation. Job security is also an added benefit. During times of economic downturn or corporate restructuring, a licensed engineer will be more valuable to the company than an unlicensed individual.
Without a license, career options are limited. To protect the public, governing bodies try to prevent individuals from practicing beyond their experience and training. So, an unlicensed engineer is required by law to be supervised by a licensed engineer. The higher level of autonomy allows an engineer more flexibility in his or her career choices. Only a Professional Engineer is allowed to approve, sign, and seal engineering documents and designs, therefore, any engineer who wants to rise to increased responsibility and authority will find it easier to do so with an engineering license. By having the credibility of a P.E. license, an engineer is in a better position to make an impact on his or her profession.
Because clients and employers place a premium on a professional license, salaries for Professional Engineers are higher throughout his or her career.
A professional license also allows an engineer to work outside of the basic company structure. Because they are not constrained to a supervised working structure, Professional Engineers have the option to do consulting work, be a principal in a company, or run their own practices. This allows them to make more money than they would through salary-based positions.
4. Personal Satisfaction
The most important reason to be a licensed P.E. is the personal satisfaction and pride that comes with realizing this goal. It takes dedication and commitment to achieve a milestone to which too few engineers aspire. A license can also allow an engineer the opportunity to create the life he or she wishes to have. A P.E. can also have more control over his or her work on a daily basis as well as his or her lifetime career, making the job itself more gratifying.
Engineering can be a challenging and competitive career path. Taking the extra time and effort to pursue a Professional Engineering license helps an engineer navigate some of the obstacles and stand out in his or her career. The P.E. title commands respect and opens doors that may not be available to an engineer without a license. Not only does it allow more career opportunities and flexibility, it also comes with increased autonomy and salary. The long-term benefits of taking the extra step in achieving this career milestone far outweigh the short-term hassle and annoyance pursuing the license may cause.