You've got the college and maybe even grad school degrees to prove you have the basics down. You've passed that pesky EIT/FE exam to back it up. Now, you've done your time at work. What's next? Getting licensed by the state, of course!
The path to the PE Exam can be a bit confusing and perhaps not too straightforward if all you have to go by is a bit of hearsay and the official websites. Based partly on actual personal experience through the process, here's a guide to help you on your way to the NYS PE licensing exam.
Step 1: The Official Websites and Determining if You're Qualified.
First things first. You should visit the Nation Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying webpage:
And also visit the New York State Education Department Office the Professions official Professional Engineering and Land Surveying webpage:
Get to know the sites. NCEES lists the overall exam information on their page, and NYSED includes the more specific state requirements. The sites will be your key resources while you are filling out your applications. All of the basic forms are available for download here.
A very informative chart is available on the Licensing Requirements link, which summarizes the requirements for achieving the 12 credits necessary to qualify. Without going into too much detail regarding the chart, the average 21+ year old engineer with a bachelor's degree in engineering from an accredited school (8 credits) will need 4 years of work experience (4 credits, each year working as an engineer basically counts as 1 credit). If you go for a master's degree you will only need 3 years (regardless of how long you are in school, a master's degree will get you the equivalence of 1 credit). The latter fact is not entirely clear in the online literature and was confirmed via a phone call. Consequently, if you have questions of what may count as "work experience" towards your credits, you may try calling the Office of Professions.
Another interesting note is that although one typically takes the EIT/FE before the PE exam, it is possible to take them back-to-back (they are usually administered consecutively on different days). Passing both is a requirement for licensure. If you fail the EIT/FE and pass the PE (which seems unlikely) your passing grade on the PE may be held if you schedule to retake the EIT/FE immediately.
Step 2: The Application Forms
You will find all the application forms you need to print out on the page:
Most engineers will need the following:
Form 1: Application for Licensure and First Registration -
This is the basic personal info and summary page for the other forms. It is self-explanatory. This is the same form used for taking the FE/EIT so make sure you check off the correct box. Note the PE application fee, which is $345 as of this writing.
Form 2: Certification of Professional Education -
This form verifies your education requirements. Section I is for you to fill out and Section II is only for your school's registrar to complete. Both forms are to be sent to the registrar, who then mails them directly to the New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions. You should add a cover letter and detail explicit instructions to the registrar to avoid any delays. Give the registrar enough time to complete these items and send them out (ideally a couple of weeks, though this varies with each institution). Typically you would create one set for each related engineering school responsible for conferring you your degrees (bachelors and masters separately). Some colleges and universities have associated fees for this service so make sure you send a check with that cover letter.
Form 3: Verification of Out-of-State Licensure, Registration and/or Examination -
If you passed the FE in another state, you will need to utilize this form. Since you'll have to go through a State agency, allow yourself even more time for any potential red tape.
Form 4: Report of Professional Experience -
Just as the name implies, this is where you relate your professional experience along with Form 4a to fulfill your work related credits. Your endorser will sign off on the more detailed account you will write on Form 4a.
Form 4A: Verification of Professional Experience -
This form expands on Form 4 and asks you for more detail. Specific examples of your engineering work experience must be given including the duration and type of work performed, how much responsibility you had, and which codes you used (NYS, national, international). There are several guidelines on what they are looking for on the website. Some applicants have written beautiful paragraphs, others have bulleted lists that go straight to the point, while some have written something in between. As long as you mention somewhere that you have met the requirements, your application should be accepted. The point is you don't have to be too verbose to get the point across.
Depending on your situation you may need to fill out Form 5 and the change of address form. Read about them on the official website for more information. Additionally, it is recommended that you print out the application checklist as it will help keep you organized. It also serves as a good summary of what you need to apply.
Some important things to keep in mind as you start:
You will need a passport quality photo ID - find a photograph or copy store, they will usually be able to do it on the spot for minimal cost.
You will need to notarize your application - find a notary public to sign off on your applications. NY State laws require that a notary is entitled to a modest fee for the service.
You will need your superiors at work to attest to your work experience - ideally you already have an idea of which person or persons you can ask to sign off on the work experience required for the application. Don't forget to inform them of their involvement well in advance. If you have changed companies, take this into account, and allow yourself some extra time to get your information in by the deadlines.
Make copies of everything you send out and receive. Keep all your receipts and confirmation letters. Make sure you pay everyone who needs a check including your registrars, the NYS government (see Form 1), and Castle Worldwide, the test moderators who will send you a bill once you have been deemed worthy to take the PE exam. Expect the total fees to be round $377, as currently listed on the NCEES website.
Step 3: Taking the Test
If you've made it to the point were you've paid everyone, you should theoretically find your golden ticket to the PE Exam in the mail a month or so before the test date. I hope you've studied well as this is not the FE and they expect a bit more from the learned upstanding engineering adult you've become.
Here are some tips for the eager test taker. Make sure you have all the required versions of the codes used on exam. These can be expensive and, depending on your office situation, you may or may not have access to the exact codes you need. Do this well in advance as you may not be the only one borrowing copies from the office library.
Try out the calculators described on the approved list. I actually witnessed someone on test day without an approved calculator who was on the verge of being denied the opportunity to take the test. Luckily someone let him borrow their spare. Do not depend on the kindness of strangers. Also know how to use that calculator if it's not the one you've been using since college. No super calculators are permitted in the test room so get used to whatever you've got. In fact, try locking away your uber-calculator that plays tetris and use only your approved calculator in the months leading towards the PE. Solar calculators remove the chance of running out of power.
Finally, sleep well the night before and give yourself lots of time to get to your test site. Good luck!