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Engineering Licensure Laws and Rules, Today and Tomorrow

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

The CE Profession: Perspectives from the U.S. & Canada

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.598.1 - 22.598.19



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Paper Authors


Craig N Musselman P.E. A & E Consulting

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Craig N. Musselman, P.E. is a practicing environmental engineer and is the President of CMA Engineers based in Portsmouth, NH. He is a former member of the New Hampshire PE Board, and currently serves as the chair of the NSPE Licensure and Qualifications for Practice Committee, and as a member of the Board of Directors of ABET. He is actively involved in committees and task forces for ASCE and NCEES.

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Jon D. Nelson Tetra Tech, Inc.

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Jon D. Nelson, P.E. is Senior Vice President of the central region of the Engineering Architectural Group of Tetra Tech, Inc. in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has been a consulting engineer for 34 years focusing on water and wastewater projects. He has been with Tetra Tech for 26 years. Mr. Nelson holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from Kansas State University and a M.S. degree in environmental engineering from Oklahoma State University. Mr. Nelson served on the Oklahoma State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors for 12 years and was president of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying in 2004 - 2005. In 2008, he served as Chair of the American Association of Engineering Societies and he was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009. He is also an active member of the National Society of Professional Engineers and has served on NSPE's Licensure and Qualifications for Practice Committee for the past four years.

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Monte L. Phillips P.E. University of North Dakota, Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering

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Monte L. Phillips is an Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of North Dakota. He received a Ph.D. with an emphasis in Geotechnical Engineering from the Univeristy of Illinois.

He served a five year term, including chair, on the North Dakota Board of Registrtion for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.

Recently he has chaired and served on numerous task forces and committees of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) involved with enhancing and promoting engineering licensure and was awarded the Council's 2005 Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his dedicated service to the engineering profession. He currently serves as the NCEES representative on the ABET Board of Directors.

Professor Phillips has been active in several technical and professional engineering societies at both the state and national level including: National President 1994 - 1995 and Fellow of the National Society of Professional Engineers; President 2000 and Fellow of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers; American Society of Civil Engineers - Fellow and two term president of the North Dakota Section; National Instiltute of Building Science Board of Directors; Chair of the National Board of Governors of the Order of the Engineer; ABET, Inc. - Board of Directors Representing NCEES.

He is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Elwyn F. Chandler Award from the North Dakota Society of Professional Engineers, and the North Dakota National Leadership Award of Excellence presented by Governor Schafer in recognition of his national leadership as president of NSPE.

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       Engineering Licensure Laws and Rules, Today and Tomorrow From a broad perspective, the qualifications for licensure as a professional engineer are based onwhat is often termed a “three legged stool” of education, examination, and experience.The specific qualifications required for licensure as a professional engineer in the United Statesare set by each jurisdiction through the state’s engineering statute, and rules established by thestate board of licensure of professional engineers implementing those statutory requirements.The law and the rules differ in each state.The National Council for the Examination of Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES) maintains aModel Law and Model Rules to be used by states when they update their individual law andrules. The NCEES Model Law and Rules were changed in 2006 to require additionalengineering education after 2020 as a prerequisite for licensure as a professional engineer. Theserequirements become applicable if and when individual states adopt the Model Law 2020requirements.Current qualifications required for licensure vary from state to state. All jurisdictions willprovide a license to a “Model Law Engineer” who, under the current Model Law, possesses abaccalaureate degree in engineering from a program accredited by EAC ABET, who has fouryears or more of acceptable and progressive engineering experience, and who has passed boththe Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination and the Principles and Practices ofEngineering (PE) examination, and who has no record of violation of ethical standards. Moststates have various additional pathways to engineering licensure for those with alternativeeducation backgrounds, often accompanied by additional years of engineering experience. Thispaper will identify the current requirements on a state by state basis.The Model Law 2020 engineering education requirements specify: 1) a master’s degree from amaster’s program accredited by EAC ABET, or a baccalaureate degree from a programaccredited by EAC ABET plus either: 1) a master’s degree in engineering from an institutionwhich offers EAC ABET programs, or; 2) 30 additional semester credits of upper levelundergraduate or graduate level coursework in engineering, math, science and professionalpractice topic areas. NCEES is currently considering additional pathways to licensure for theModel Law 2020 provisions. This paper will describe the Model Law 2020 requirementscurrently in place, and the alternatives currently being considered.Engineering licensure requirements are subject to “industrial exemptions” which are present inthe statutes in some but not all states. Engineering licensure is not required by law in some, butnot all, states for those who practice engineering for electrical or telecommunications utilities, orfor manufacturing businesses which manufacture a product. In response to recent oil spills andmining disasters, both NSPE and NCEES have committees evaluating whether these industrialexemptions provide adequate protection of the public health, safety and welfare. This paper willdelineate those states which have and do not have such industrial exemptions, and provideinformation on the specific language of these exemptions in each state.PURPOSE.The purpose of this paper is to provide engineering educators with a single-source, yet concise,document that describes the engineering licensure process in the United States. This will includedescriptions of – 1. The current NCEES Model Law & Rules. 2. The NCEES Model Law & Rules beginning not earlier than 2020. 3. The great variety of actual engineering licensure qualifications within the 56 different licensure jurisdictions. 4. The complexities of licensure “comity” and how this is has been addressed at the national level. 5. The industrial exemption “issue.”COORDINATING NOTE:This abstract is submitted at the specific invitation and request of Tom Lenox, the coordinator ofthe ASCE Liaison Committee’s program for the CE Division of ASEE in 2011. It should beconsidered for inclusion in the session(s) that Tom Lenox is organizing and moderating

Musselman, C. N., & Nelson, J. D., & Phillips, M. L. (2011, June), Engineering Licensure Laws and Rules, Today and Tomorrow Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17879

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