July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Qualifications for engineering licensure are based on three components: education, examination, and experience. Every state uses laws and rules to define the specific licensure requirements in their jurisdiction. Examinations normally consist of the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the NCEES Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. Most states require at least four years of experiences after completion of an EAC-ABET accredited engineering degree. However, the education requirement is far from uniform. Many state laws include pathways to licensure for applicants with a non-accredited engineering degree, an engineering technology degree, a non-engineering bachelor’s degree, and no postsecondary degree. In the following study, state engineering laws and rules were reviewed to determine the education, experience, and examination pathways to professional engineering licensure. In particular, the accreditation requirements for applicants with EAC-ABET degrees, ETAC-ABET degrees, non-accredited engineering degrees, non-engineering degrees, and no college degrees were compared.
The study revealed that states offer a wide variety of options for applicants who do not have an EAC-ABET accredited degree to become licensed. The EAC-ABET engineering degree is universally accepted in all 50 states and provides the quickest pathway to license. Over 80% of the states provide a pathway for applicants with an engineering technology degree and over 90% of states provide a pathway for applicants with a non-accredited degree. The experience requirement was the same for engineering technology degrees and EAC-ABET engineering degrees in 12% of the states; the experience requirement was the same for non-accredited degrees and EAC-ABET engineering degrees in 44% of the states. Currently, 40% of the states allow a pathway to licensure with a non-engineering bachelor’s degree, and 28% of states allow applicants with no formal college education to obtain a professional engineer’s license. Although the examination requirements to become a licensed engineer are nearly universal, the education and experience pathways are not. The data indicates that many state licensure boards value experience and alternative education paths as much as an EAC-ABET engineering degree, making traditional engineering education the weak link in the licensure process. Any efforts to increase the education requirements will likely encounter broad challenges because of the lack of uniformity in the licensure process; the most uniform component within the licensure process is currently the examination requirement.
Swenty, M. K., & Swenty, B. J. (2021, July), Is Engineering Education the Weak Link in Licensure’s Three-legged Stool? Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37409
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