Licensure As A Professional Engineer In Texas
Who Should be Licensed?
Under the Texas Engineering Practice Act, only duly licensed persons may legally perform, or offer to perform engineering services for the public in Texas. Furthermore, public works must be designed and constructed under the direct supervision of a licensed professional engineer. The terms "engineer" or "professional engineer" can only be used by persons who are currently licensed. Anyone who violates these parameters is subject to legal penalties.
Purpose & History
The Engineering Registration Act (Article 3271a, V.A.T.S.) was enacted as the result of a tragic school explosion at New London, Texas, in 1937. In response to concerns that the public could not identify who was qualified to practice engineering, the 45th Texas Legislature passed the Act as emergency legislation and it became law when signed by the Governor on May 28, 1937. The 59th Texas Legislature rewrote the original Registration Act. This Act became law on August 30, 1965, and was called the "Texas Engineering Practice Act."The authors of the Texas Engineering Practice Act included the following statement in Section 1001.004 of the Act:
"The legislature recognizes the vital impact that the rapid advance of knowledge of the mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences as applied in the practice of engineering has on the lives, property, economy, and security of state residents and the national defense. The purpose of this chapter is to: protect the public health, safety, and welfare; enable the state and the public to identify persons authorized to practice engineering in this state; and fix responsibility for work done or services or acts performed in the practice of engineering."It therefore becomes apparent that this legislation was not enacted to restrict the number of practitioners, but rather to "safeguard life, health, and property and protect the public welfare." The Texas Board of Professional Engineers is authorized and required to license those individuals who are qualified by law to practice engineering, and to regulate the practice of engineering in Texas. To accomplish this mission, the Legislature further empowered the Board to make and enforce the rules dealing with licensing, compliance and enforcement, and standards of conduct and ethics.
Contacting the Board
The Board office is located at 1917 S Interstate 35 in Austin.
Send all mail to:
Texas Board of Professional Engineers
1917 S Interstate 35, Austin, TX 78741-3702
TBPE website: http://engineers.texas.gov
Licensing questions may be directed to: email@example.com
Board telephone numbers are: (512) 440-7723 and (512) 442-1414/Fax
Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for state and federal holidays.
Basic Requirements for Licensure
You must have earned one of the following degrees or degree combinations:
1) An accredited degree in engineering from an EAC/ABET accredited program in the United States or equivalent. Qualifying degree may be an undergraduate degree or an advanced degree issued by a program with an undergraduate program in the same discipline.
Equivalent degrees include:
A) Degrees from US programs specifically reviewed and approved by the Board;
B) Degrees from engineering programs covered by the Washington Accord, an international agreement between ABET and similar accrediting organizations from other countries;
C) Degrees from programs accredited by the Consejo de Acreditacion de la Ingenieria, Mexico;
D) Degrees held by engineers currently licensed in Canada; and
E) Foreign degrees from programs not covered by B) - D) above which are deemed equivalent by one of the Board approved evaluation service providers.
2) A non-accredited degree:
A) An engineering degree from a US program at a recognized institution of higher learning that does not meet the conditions of 1) above;
B) A degree in engineering technology from an ETAC/ABET accredited program; or
C) A US degree in mathematical, physical, or engineering science approved by the Executive Director.
All degrees or combination of degrees must have at least:
8 hours of math beyond trigonometry (courses such as calculus and differential equations) and,
20 hours of engineering sciences (courses such as mechanics, thermodynamics, electrical & electronic circuits, materials science, transport phenomena, computer engineering, etc.).
Contact the Licensing staff if you have questions regarding your educational credentials.
You must meet the following experience requirements prior to submitting your application to the Board:
1. With an accredited engineering degree you must have 4 years or more of active practice in engineering work, of a character satisfactory to the Board, indicating that you are competent to be placed in responsible charge of such work. This experience must demonstrate a clear use of your engineering knowledge, engineering education, and engineering judgment to perform the task, be progressive, of an increasing standard of quality and responsibility in one dominant discipline. Although it is recommended that the engineering experience be obtained while working under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer, this is not a requirement for licensure.
2. With a non-accredited degree you must have 8 years of active practice in engineering work, of a character satisfactory to the Board.During your first few years of experience after graduation, it is imperative that you place an emphasis on gaining experience that is acceptable for licensing purposes. Failure to become licensed can severely limit your potential professional growth.While gaining experience, it is equally critical that you document it in such a way that you can summarize it for the Board. As you go about your weekly tasks, you should keep a detailed diary of your activities: the starting and ending dates of the project(s) on which you worked, name and address of each employer, job title(s), the name, present addresses and phone numbers of the engineers and other persons with which you personally worked who can serve as a reference to substantiate your experience, identification of the project, the scope of the project, and the engineering activities that you personally performed.When you are ready to apply for licensure, this information will be transferred from your diary into a summary called the Supplementary Experience Record (SER). It should range from about 6 to 12 pages and adequately describe the engineering activities that you have performed for your entire engineering career, starting with the first engagement after graduation from college. The SER is to be written in the first person describing in active engineering verbs the engineering work you specifically designed, calculated, evaluated, analyzed, etc.Experience that is considered most acceptable for licensure purposes generally falls into one of two categories: design or analysis.The most common type of acceptable experience is design. The common denominator in all design is the selection and use of recognized engineering principles and methodology to determine a solution to a problem. The final result of design work will almost always be details, plans, or specifications for use in creating a finished product.The second common type of acceptable experience is analysis. Common features of analysis activities include the use of mathematical modeling or review of established design standards to assess a problem or proposal, and the act of making a learned recommendation based on analytical findings. An engineering analysis activity will result in a conclusive report and recommendation.It should be noted here that many other types of activities will also be acceptable if your participation in those activities can be described in terms of design or analysis. By asking yourself if you can describe your activity in terms such as "I calculated..., I designed..., I analyzed..., I recommended...," you can almost assure yourself that you are describing design and analysis.References - You are required to submit at least three confidential reference statements to the Board, from currently licensed professional engineers who are familiar with the work you describe in your SER. If you are applying for an original license and requesting an examination waiver you must submit five references, which must be from currently licensed professional engineers. You will choose the engineers to request references from. You should be aware that it is within an engineer’s perogative to provide a reference if he or she is comfortable giving one. The reference provider will provide the Board with an assessment of your character and suitability for licensure and will verify the quality and scope of the work that you describe in your SER on the Reference Statement Form. The references do not all need to be from supervisors. A professional engineer who is familiar with your work, but may not be your supervisor will be acceptable as a reference. Professional engineers who can vouch for your character, but do not have personal knowledge of your engineering experience may review and judge your documented experience and serve as a reference. Such review will be documented on the Reference Statement Form.One year of experience credit may be granted for each advanced (post-baccalaureate) engineering degree if the applicant has a degree in engineering and the advanced degree(s) are from an engineering program which has an accredited undergraduate program as described in section 1) of the education requirements above. Experience credit for all advanced degrees is limited to two years. Official transcripts are required to claim this credit, but SERs and references for this period are not necessary.
To qualify for licensure, all applicants must take and pass three examinations:
1) The National Council of Examiners for Engineering & Surveying (NCEES) Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination;
2) The NCEES Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) examination; and
3) The Texas Engineering Professional Conduct and Ethics Examination.The PE examination is an 8-hour test and is given twice a year at various locations in Texas (certain PE tests are given only once per year). The testing dates for the PE exam are scheduled for April and October.
The FE exam is a computer-based exam administered by NCEES. The FE examination is a supplied reference examination consisting of a morning session and an afternoon session. The exam is discipline specific. The FE format and specifications may be viewed/printed from the NCEES website at: http://www.ncees.org/exams.
The Board expects all applicants to be able to pass the exams. The Board may, at its discretion, waive the FE examination for well qualified applicants who provide a written request submitted with an application for licensure, do not pose a threat to the public health, safety, or welfare, and have:
(a) an accredited degree and 8 or more years of engineering experience, or
(b) a non-accredited degree and 12 years of engineering experience, or
(c) a current Engineering Educator at a recognized institution of higher education with a Ph.D. in engineering from a program with an EAC/ABET accredited undergraduate program or equivalent.All requests for waiver of the FE will be subject to review by the Executive Director and may be reviewed by Board members. Requests for waiver (even those meeting the above guidelines) may be denied.
The Principles and Practice of Engineering examination is a test offered in a specific discipline of engineering. You will be granted permission to take the PE exam only after your application for licensure has been approved. You may test in any of the following disciplines:
Agricultural (October only)
Architectural (April only)
Control Systems (October only)
Electrical and Computer
Fire Protection (October only)
Industrial (April only)
Metallurgical (October only)
Mining/Mineral (October only)
Naval Architecture & Marine (April only)
Nuclear (October only)
Petroleum (October only)
Software Engineering (April only)
Structural 16 Hour
The examination formats and specifications may be viewed/printed from the NCEES website at: http://www.ncees.orgThe Board expects all applicants to be able to pass the PE exam that relates to his or her discipline. The Board may, at it’s discretion, waive the PE examination for well qualified applicants who provide a written request submitted with the application, do not pose a threat to the public health, safety, or welfare, and are:
1) A former Texas license holder or an engineer currently licensed in another US jurisdiction with:
(a) an accredited degree and 12 or more years of engineering experience; or
(b) a non-accredited degree and 16 years of engineering experience; or
2) A current Ph.D. Engineering Educator (as defined by Board rules) who has qualifying engineering experience teaching in an EAC/ABET program for at least eight years or has at least eight years of engineering experience consisting of an acceptable combination of other creditable engineering experience or EAC/ABET teaching experience. Only teaching of engineering which began prior to September 1, 2001 may be counted as qualifying engineering experience.All requests for waiver of the PE will be reviewed by Board members. Requests for waiver (even those meeting the above guidelines) may be denied.The Texas Engineering Professional Conduct and Ethics Examination is a self-administered examination concerning the Texas Engineering Practice Act and the Board Rules. It should be completed by the applicant and submitted with the application.
Applying for Licensure
The process of applying for licensure is rather time-consuming and you should give yourself plenty of lead-time prior to the date that you wish to have the application submitted. Once the complete application is submitted, allow 2-3 months for processing. Incomplete applications or those requiring Board review may take longer. Once the Board approves you to take the PE examination, you will be allowed to pay the examination fee and schedule the next examination before the deadline. These deadlines are about 8 weeks before the examination.The following is a checklist of activities that you must perform to complete the application process:
- Evaluate your education and determine the category under which you qualify for licensure. If you believe that you may have any deficiencies or if you need an evaluation to see if you meet the minimum education requirements, you should contact the TBPE. Application fees are non-refundable.
- Take and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination or request a waiver. If you have not done so, you should contact the Board (or your school, if you have not graduated) as soon as possible and begin the process. The FE examination is offered by NCEES; and registration deadlines are set well in advance. Deadlines are posted on the NCEES website.
- Evaluate your engineering experience. Again, if you believe that you have any deficiencies, you should contact the TBPE for help. DO NOT ANTICIPATE EXPERIENCE. The minimum experience must be earned prior to application submittal. Applications submitted when claimed experience prior to the date of submittal is less than the minimum requirements may be denied.
- Request references from PEs. You must have at least three, but may need more depending on the circumstances of your experience. You must send your reference providers a copy of your signed SER. Keep the original to submit with the application.
- Contact your university and request official transcripts. Official transcripts (marksheets and diplomas) are to be sent from the issuing institution directly to the Board. Student copies are not acceptable.
- Complete your application as instructed. The application form must be typed (not hand-written). Applicants with foreign degrees or other unique situations should be aware that there may be additional requirements such as Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and degree evaluations.
- Complete the Texas Engineering Professional Conduct and Ethics Examination and submit the answer sheet or results with the application
- Applicants who have taken and passed the FE and/or PE exam in another US jurisdiction will not have to take them again in Texas, but will be required to obtain verification of those exams from the appropriate jurisdiction or NCEES to be sent directly to the TBPE. Should you have any questions, please contact the Board office.
- The application fee is $80.