A Professional Engineer is someone who is licensed by the state
to practice Engineering. If an Engineer needs to sign design documents
for systems that relate to public safety, then by law
that Engineer MUST be registered as a Professional Engineer
in the appropriate state.
Even if you do not pursue a career that requires registration, the fact
that you are registered will serve as an indicator of your seriousness
about your profession, and your commitment to the quality of your work.
For an Engineer, being a P.E. is similar to a Lawyer passing the Bar Exams, or a Doctor being licensed to practice, or a Nurse being an R.N.
P.E. registration is through the state, such as Alabama. Each Engineer must be registered in the specific states in which they are to practice. Reciprocal registrations are often possible, so that an Engineer can be registered in both Alabama and Tennessee, for example. But the Engineer must maintain the registration in each state separately.
I Strongly encourage all Engineers to become registered as a P.E.
There are several steps to becoming registered as a P.E.:
The standard examinations for Engineering registration are maintained by National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.
All Engineering graduates should take their FE Exam as soon as possible after graduation. The FE Exam is a very long and comprehensive exam, covering a wide variety of topics. You should take this exam while your detailed knowledge and test-taking skills are fresh.
If an Engineer desires to become registered, that Engineer should pursue work opportunities under the supervision of a registered P.E. The Engineer should interview their potential employer about this important aspect of the job they are applying for.
Once registered, a P.E. needs to renew their license every two years, and to meet all legal and administrative requirements. All requirements must be certified at the time of license renewal.
A P.E. is required to abide by appropriate laws and codes of ethical and professional conduct.
Every year, the state board publishes a newsletter. In that newsletter there are almost always several cases listed in which an Engineer has committed some form of unethical conduct or malpractice. These former Engineers often lose their licenses, and can no longer practice Engineering. The types of misconduct reported are often astonishing.
A P.E. is also required to continually refresh their skills by completing a Continuing Education requirement, and to document and certify their compliance with this requirement.
my page about ABET accreditation
Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology - www.abet.org
Wiki page about ABET - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABET
UAB Electrical Engineering ABET Accreditation - www.uab.edu/engineering/ece/undergraduate/accreditation
Alabama Board of Licensure for Engineers and Land Surveyors - bels.alabama.gov
Wiki page about P.E. registration - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulation_and_licensure_in_engineering
National Society of Professional Engineers - nspe.org
An NSPE page about P.E. registration - www.nspe.org/resources/licensure/what-pe
National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying - ncees.org
Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam - ncees.org/engineering/fe/
Professional Engineering (PE) Exam Electrical and Computer Engineering - ncees.org/engineering/pe/electrical-computer/