PE Electrical Exam Requirement

userl

New member
I have a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering but no significant Industry experience. I passed FE Electrical exam in October 2011 from CA. Now I would like to sit for Electrical PE exam in California. Can anyone tell me if I can sit for PE Electrical Power exam without experience?
 

dkarst

Senior Member
It is always best to check with the board of engineering in the state in which you desire to become licensed. As you stated, there are two different exams (i.e. FE and PE) and in MOST states there is a 4 year experience requirement, either from receiving your undergrad degrees or in some cases, the clock starts when you pass the FE. In CA, check here.. http://www.pels.ca.gov/applicants/apps.shtml

I believe but am not certain in CA, you need 6 years total, 4 of which can be a standard BS degree (ABET accredited, special rules may apply for 4 year technology degrees or degrees from foreign institutions), one year can be counted for a MS degree, leaving you a minimum of one year of professional experience.

You should check the state board out to confirm and if you apply to take exam, they will want an accounting of your experience to make sure it was "real" engineering level work.

Just my editorializing here a bit... CA rules are a bit different than others and you have to be aware that if you sit for the exam in CA and pass with one year of engineering experience, and subsequently want to transfer (sometimes referred to as comity) your license to another state, you may have a problem. As I said many states assume you have 4 years qualifying experience. The next state may reject your application for transfer if you did not meet their qualifications to sit for the exam in place that time. Since CA has a shorter experience than most state, it is common to try this method but it can have consequences.

As a hiring manager, I would probably raise my eyebrows a bit with a new PE who only had one year of experience. Maybe someone licensed in CA will drop by to verify my assumptions.
 
I got my electrical PE back in 1996 and at that time the BSEE plus the MSEE counted as 5 of the 6 years of experience if I remember correctly. Today it looks like it would be the same. So assuming your education meets the council's approval you need at least one year of documented experience. It may take you more than a real time year to get that one year of documented experience though depending on the type of work you do.

I have received PEs through comity from 3 other states and have never had an application turned down, or even questioned, because my PE by exam was from CA. I use the NCEES system for record keeping and I don't think there was anywhere that it recorded how CA gave credit for the 6 years of experience.
 
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rbalex

Moderator
Staff member
I have a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering but no significant Industry experience. I passed FE Electrical exam in October 2011 from CA. Now I would like to sit for Electrical PE exam in California. Can anyone tell me if I can sit for PE Electrical Power exam without experience?
This is the historic problem with various engineering practice "exemptions." You can't quite get the six years experience you need. It appears you may lack one year; but see (c)(1) below.

This is from the 2012 Board Rules (Title 16, California Code of Regulations sections 400-476)
424. Experience Requirements – Professional Engineers.
(a) The engineering branches and title authorities described in Section 404, herein, overlap and some activities are common to two or more engineering branches and title authorities. The minimum number of years of qualifying experience in such overlapping engineering branches and title authorities may be used in securing licensure in any applicable engineering branch or title authority but cannot be used more than once. The only exception to this is experience credit for education. Qualifying education entitles a candidate to experience credit and this experience credit may be used again even though it has already been used to qualify for another examination.
(b) An applicant for licensure as a professional engineer shall be granted credit towards the experience requirement, as stated in subdivision (a), for the following education curriculum:
(1) Four (4) years experience credit for graduation from an approved engineering curriculum.
(2) Two (2) years experience credit for graduation from a non-approved engineering curriculum or from an approved engineering technology curriculum.
(3) Five (5) years of experience credit for graduation from an approved cooperative work-study engineering curriculum.
(4) Five (5) years of experience credit for graduation from an approved post-graduate engineering curriculum.
(5) One-half (1/2) year of education credit for each year of study completed in an approved engineering curriculum that did not result in the awarding of a baccalaureate degree, except that the maximum of such experience shall be two (2) years.​
“Life Experience Degrees” are not acceptable and will not be counted towards the education credit.
The additional actual work experience required to meet the six (6) years of experience requirement shall have been gained after graduation, except for cooperative work study experience and post-graduate education.
The sum of qualifying experience credit for education and engineering teaching experience shall not exceed five years.
(c) Qualifying experience is that experience satisfactory to the Board which has been gained while performing engineering tasks under the direction responsible charge of a person legally qualified to practice in an applicant’s’ branch of engineering.
(1) For the purposes of this section, “legally qualified” means having an appropriate license as a professional engineer,; or by being an employee of the Federal Government,; or, except for civil engineers, by virtue of being an employee of a manufacturing, mining, public utility, research and development, or other industrial corporation; or by, except for civil engineers, holding an appropriate license as a contractor.
(2) Qualifying experience shall be computed on an actual time worked basis, but not to exceed forty hours per week.
 
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gadfly56

Senior Member
I got my electrical PE back in 1996 and at that time the BSEE plus the MSEE counted as 5 of the 6 years of experience if I remember correctly. Today it looks like it would be the same. So assuming your education meets the council's approval you need at least one year of documented experience. It may take you more than a real time year to get that one year of documented experience though depending on the type of work you do.

I have received PEs through comity from 3 other states and have never had an application turned down, or even questioned, because my PE by exam was from CA. I use the NCEES system for record keeping and I don't think there was anywhere that it recorded how CA gave credit for the 6 years of experience.
The fact that you now have 16 years experience may have something to do with that. If you didn't apply through comity until 2001 or so (5 additional years experience), I doubt anyone would have had second thoughts.
 
I have a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering but no significant Industry experience. I passed FE Electrical exam in October 2011 from CA. Now I would like to sit for Electrical PE exam in California. Can anyone tell me if I can sit for PE Electrical Power exam without experience?
It looks like the answer to your question is no. And really, you do need to have experience working under a PE to be considered ready to be a PE yourself. The exposure you get to real world engineering through the apprenticeship, even for just one year, is just as important as the education and passing the exam. College teaches how to do engineering calculations and solve engineering problems, a good apprenticeship teaches you how to be a PE.
 
The fact that you now have 16 years experience may have something to do with that. If you didn't apply through comity until 2001 or so (5 additional years experience), I doubt anyone would have had second thoughts.
That may be true, but dkarst implied that the CA PE was somehow substandard when compared to a PE from another state and I could not let that go unanswered. I guess we could devolve into a discussion about which state's PE is better or worse.
 

dkarst

Senior Member
That may be true, but dkarst implied that the CA PE was somehow substandard when compared to a PE from another state and I could not let that go unanswered. I guess we could devolve into a discussion about which state's PE is better or worse.
Marvin, I certainly didn't mean to imply that CA engineers or a CA PE stamp are substandard... my apologies if it was interpreted in that manner.

The nice thing is all states use the same exam... the drawback is each state seems to be somewhat unique in experience and continuing education requirements. It would be nice to somehow standardize.
 

rbalex

Moderator
Staff member
California definitely has some unusual PE standards compared to most other States; but civil, mechanical and electrical PEs will usually hold up by comity. I've never had mine rejected; even by Alaska which requires passing a test in "Arctic Engineering" in addition to the NCEES exams.

Most States have a broad PE license that permits the engineer to practice in any field they believe themselves to be competent. California restricts the practice of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering to only civil, mechanical and electrical PEs. There's far more to it than that, but it gets too complicated trying to explain it. The California Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors offers a "short" explanation here. Another discussion that might be of interest is here.
 
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There has been a move to change the CA PE system to do away with the designations and just make a general PE. It looks like they never make it through the legislature. There is one on deck right now in SB 692.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
There has been a move to change the CA PE system to do away with the designations and just make a general PE. It looks like they never make it through the legislature. There is one on deck right now in SB 692.
I am sure there are good arguments to be made on both sides, and maybe the earthquake situation in CA suggests that each discipline needs specific seismic standards to be followed. In my case, I've been in explosives development and manufacture, semiconductor gas supply and distribution, facilities management, and now fire protection. I don't know where I'd be if they'd said "Sorry son, you're a chemical engineer and that's it".
 

Lady Engineer

Senior Member
Just my two scents.

Check with the NCEES, they list the requirements for all states. I live in NJ, and we must have 4 years experience while working under under a PE. A masters counts for 2 of those years. Like someone said, check you state requirements, and a good place to start is at the NCEES website.

Good luck with your PE exam. It did me a world of good, I must say.

It doesn't make you any smarter, but you'll feel smarter. LOL :p J/K
 

jim dungar

Moderator
Staff member
Horror stories abound.

I have three different engineers in three different states all trying to get their PE. The thing they have in common is an undergraduate degree from a foreign country.
State 1 is requiring my engineer, with +5 years experience as an engineer and 2 years as an instructor, to prove which courses he took as an undergraduate 15+ years ago. By the way, he holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from a US college.
State 2, is requiring my engineer to provide a written outline (like from a course catalog) of his specific undergraduate courses, on his university's letterhead. He holds a masters degree in EE from a US university.
State 3 is 'allowing' my engineer with 10+ years of experience and a PE in a foreign country to sit for his EIT even though he has no US education.
 
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