Professional Engineer Exam (PE Exam)

Definition

The term Professional Engineer Exam refers to the second of a two-step process that candidates will go through as they pursue their professional engineer license.  The Professional Engineer Exam, or PE Exam, is sponsored by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.  The exam is designed for individuals that have at least four years of post-graduate work in an engineering position.

Explanation

In the United States, local state boards grant an individual a license to practice their engineering skills.  The Professional Engineer Exam, or PE Exam, is the second and final step individuals will take as they seek their license.

PE licenses are offered in a number of fairly specific fields, including:  Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Architectural, Chemical, Civil (Construction, Geotechnical, Structural, Transportation, Water Resources and Environmental), Control Systems, Electrical and Computer (Computer Engineering, Electrical and Electronics, Power), Environmental, Fire Protection, Industrial, Mechanical (HVAC and Refrigeration, Mechanical Systems and Materials, Thermal and Fluids Systems), Metallurgical and Materials, Mining and Mineral Processing, Naval Architecture and Marine, Nuclear, Petroleum, Software, and Structural.

The examination is a "pencil and paper" based test which is offered in April and October each year for the majority of the fields mentioned above.  However, certain exams are only offered once per year as indicated below:

  • April-Only Exams:  includes Agricultural and Biological, Architectural, Industrial, Naval Architecture and Marine, and Software.
  • October-Only Exams:  includes Control Systems, Fire Protection, Metallurgical and Materials, Mining and Mineral Processing, Nuclear and Petroleum.

Examinees are given eight hours (two four-hour sessions) to answer approximately 100 questions.  Results are released to state licensing boards eight to ten weeks following the examination.  Candidates are given pass / fail grades determined by experts and measured against performance that corresponds to the minimal competence for a particular discipline.  First-time pass rates for PE Exams range from 50 to 80%; however, pass rates for repeat-takers range from 0 to 70%.

Related Terms

COMLEX, NCLEX, USMLE, MBE, NAPLEX, MPT, NBDE, FE Exam, FS Exam, SE Exam, PS Exam