Civil engineers often ask me why it is so important to obtain your P.E. (professional engineering) license.
There are many reasons why obtaining this prestigious credential is important. In this post, I will list 5 reasons, but I am also looking for you to add any comments to the bottom of this post with other reasons, comments, or experiences you might share about how the P.E. license has helped you as a civil engineering professional.
Credibility – In the architecture, engineering and construction industry, your level of expertise and credibility is critical to your success, and a P.E. license gives you instant credibility. Now, I say instant, because it only takes a few seconds to write the letters, "P.E.," after your name, but of course there are many hours of hard work that go into obtaining your license.
I remember how much more respect people gave me once "P.E." was after my name. People want to hire experts and credible technical professionals, and a P.E. certainly gives you that credibility.
Reputation – Now, reputation may sound similar to credibility, but I believe it is different. Your reputation consists of the beliefs or thoughts that people have about you. Obtaining a P.E. license, especially at a young age, tells people that you are a motivated civil engineer looking to move up in your career.
I received my P.E. license at the young age of 23, one month before my 24th birthday, and achieving this milestone at such a young age really turned some heads in the company I worked for at the time. I also remember that when our company would interview a civil engineer, one of the first things they would want to know is whether he or she had their P.E. license or whether they were close to getting it.
Design capabilities – The P.E. license gives you the legal ability to be the responsible individual on design plans and specifications, meaning that you can sign and seal these documents. This may be a huge benefit to your firm, especially if you work for a small firm or desire to start your own. That being said, this can also open you up to liabilities, which I will discuss in a follow-up post.
Career value – If you want to succeed as a civil engineer, as in all walks of like, you must provide value to people. Your P.E. license allows you to do that, for the reasons I have already spoken about. The license bolsters your company’s reputation, and it can give your client or prospective clients more confidence in hiring or utilizing you as an engineer.
The bottom line is that with the P.E. license you become a much more valuable civil engineer. It may not make you a better technical civil engineer overnight, but it certainly makes you a more valuable civil engineer overall.
Investment – Lastly, but certainly not least, by investing the time and energy to obtain your P.E. license, you are investing in your future. You are showing your employer that you want to succeed. You are showing your clients that you are an expert. But most importantly you have added a valuable credential to your resume that can boost your career over and over.
I remember civil engineers that I graduated with who said they weren’t going to obtain their P.E. license because they planned to work for general contractors. Problems arose for them when the recession came and the contractors slowed down and laid off engineers. Those same engineers then had a hole in their resume, a big hole. Take the time to invest in yourself and obtain your P.E. license.
Here is a podcast episode that outlines the entire process you’ll need to go through to get your license, and in my next post, I will cover some things you should know as a civil engineer about the responsibilities and potential liabilities associated with obtaining your P.E. license.
In the meantime, please leave any comments on other benefits of your P.E. license or questions you might have below.
Anthony Fasano, P.E., F.ASCE, is the founder of the Engineering Career Coach website which has helped thousands of engineers develop their business and leadership skills. He hosts the Civil Engineering Podcast and has written a bestselling book for engineers, Engineer Your Own Success. You can download a free video series on his website that will give you the tools needed to immediately improve your networking and communication skills.