What are US PE exams and PE licenses?

What is the US Professional Engineer (PE) System?

  1. Frequently asked inquiries to our association
  2. Basic Principles of US PE System
  3. Technical fields covered by US PE
  4. Is the PE seal a public licensing procedure?
  5. The PE system varies from state to state, but the basic requirements for educational background and technical exams are common throughout the United States.
  6. History and relationships of US organizations that support the PE system
  7. Why the US "exports" the PE system
  8. Why our association is affiliated with NSPE
  9. Services that our association can provide for business inquiries

1. Frequently asked inquiries to our association

The Association may receive the following inquiries from domestic companies and individuals who are considering exporting equipment and plants to the United States, establishing a technical corporation in the United States, or acquiring qualifications for self-improvement. ..

  • It was said that the drawings and specifications of the equipment / plant to be exported need to be examined and stamped by the state "PE", or that one or more "PE" must be assigned when establishing a technical corporation. What kind of system is "PE"?
  • What kind of technical fields do "PE" regulations and guarantees cover?What are the differences in the system between states?
  • I heard that in order to obtain the "PE" qualification as an individual, you need to pass the "FE exam" in addition to the "PE exam", and you may be asked about your educational background. Is there?
  • How much does JSPE (our association) offer consultations to companies and individuals who have doubts or worries about the "PE" system?

2. Basic principles of the US PE system

“PE” is an abbreviation for Professional Engineer, and the PE board (Board Regulatory Commission) in each state licenses engineers who meet certain requirements as professional engineers. ) Is given and it is operated by supervising the action.The outline of the system is on our website "For those who are interested in taking the PE exam / registration" As mentioned in, the basic principles common to PE laws in each state are as follows. (reference:NCEES Model Law )

  • Only PEs (Professional Engineers) licensed by the State Government for technical work that may affect public safety, health and well-being and require engineering principles and engineering interpretations of information. Leave it to
  • A PE license is granted by having a certain level of educational background and work experience recognized by the state PE Regulatory Commission and passing a prescribed examination.And the state PE board has the authority to inquire, discipline, etc. for the work of licensed PE.
  • PE licenses are granted for specific technical areas in which the technician has demonstrated competence.

Japan has qualifications for engineers under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, but it is easy to understand that the US PE system is a system that combines qualifications for engineers and various technical qualifications under the jurisdiction of other central ministries. maybe.

3. Technical fields covered by US PE

At present, the US PE system covers the following 25 technical fields, and passing the PE examination conducted in each of these fields is one of the requirements for obtaining a PE license. (reference: NCEES Exams)

Chemistry, civil engineering (construction, ground, structure, transportation, water resources), structure, construction, environmental civil engineering, electricity (computer, electrical and electronic, electric power), machinery (air conditioning, machinery / materials, heat / fluid), agricultural organisms, Industry, marine, software, instrumentation control, fire protection, metals / materials, mines, nuclear power, oil
(* Careful readers may find that the aerospace, which the United States is good at, is not included in the PE test.)

So, for example, if the drawings and specifications in question are seen to have technical aspects in the three areas of machinery, electricity, and civil engineering, do we need to be stamped by three PEs with licenses in each area?The answer to this question depends on the characteristics of the plant and equipment and the legal and regulatory policies of each US government agency (federal, state, city, etc.).
If each aspect of machinery, electricity, and civil engineering is considered to have a large impact on public safety, etc., the seal of three PEs with licenses in each field is required.On the other hand, if it is judged that the impact on public safety is mainly on the side of civil engineering, it may be accepted only by the seal of one civil engineering PE.
As a result of the development of a wide variety of technologies applied to plants and equipment, who and how much to guarantee the subdivided technical fields is always a controversial issue not only in the United States but also in Japan.
In order to deal with this problem that is often encountered in the US PE system, the following measures have been taken.

  • To obtain a PE license, you must not only pass the PE (Principles and Practice of Engineering) exam by specialty, but also pass the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam, which is designed to give you an idea of ​​the basics of engineering in general. , And to have a Bachelor in Engineering with the ABET Engineering Education Standards Certification common throughout the United States.
  • By setting the provision that "PE licensees can only seal the work in the field where the person can prove that he / she has the ability", the work to be stamped is not necessarily limited to the field that passed the PE test. Implicitly admits.Instead, individual PE licensees are required to have at least 2 hours of continuous professional development CPD, usually during the renewal period of every two years.
  • The policy of each state defines the scope of business that does not require the seal of a PE licensee (Example: Design / manufacturing processes that are considered to be systematically guaranteed by a company are excluded from the PE seal)

(reference:NCEES Model Law, Model Rule, NSPE What is an Industrial Exemption

4. Is the PE seal a public license procedure?

The US PE system can be said to be one of the public safety regulations because it is supervised by the state PE board, but each licensed PE operates autonomously as a profession independent of each US government agency. increase.
When asked that "PE drawings and specifications need to be stamped," some domestic officials think that the PE stamping process is the same as the licensing procedure by US government agencies.In order to obtain the approval of each government agency, it is a necessary condition that the drawings and specifications have a PE seal, but it is not a necessary and sufficient condition.
Understand that a PE licensed engineer is also a service provider who can provide necessary advice regarding the process of creating drawings and specifications to be examined, and technical consultation with PE licensees. It is recommended that you be proactive.

5. The PE system varies from state to state, but the basic requirements for educational background and technical examinations are common throughout the United States.

The US PE is a system of each state in the United States, but of the four basic requirements for granting a license as a professional engineer (educational background, work experience, technical examination, state law examination), the educational background and technical examination (FE examination, PE examination) They are voluntarily supervised by non-governmental organizations called ABET and NCEES, respectively, and the terms ABET and NCEES appear almost without exception in the PE law of each state.From this, it can be said that the basic part of the PE system is almost the same in the United States. ABET and NCEES are the following organizations.

ABET(Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology: National Engineering and Technology Certification Board)
It is a well-known organization in Japan as an organization that certifies the US engineering university education program on a department-by-department basis. The name at the time of establishment in 1932 was ECPD (Engineering Council of Professional Development), and it started with the goal of supporting the PE license system that was spreading in each state at that time in terms of education and practice. I did.Currently, ABET is an organization that includes NCEES and NSPE as an organization in addition to more than 30 field-specific engineer associations, and the technical field classification certified by ABET is one with the technical field classification of FE test and PE test conducted by NCEES. I am doing it.In addition, the PE law enacted by each state PE board under NCEES generally includes graduation from the ABET certification course as one of the requirements for becoming a PE.

NCEES(National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying)
It is a well-known organization that conducts FE tests and PE tests not only in the United States but also in other countries around the world, including Japan. Was established in 1920 as an organization that is a member and collaborates.It is also the case that Model Law and Model Rule, which are common norms of PE law set by each state, are established and published.NCEES is. By the 1980s, a unified FE test and PE test had been developed in the United States, and we are currently promoting the elimination of interstate barriers through the creation of a database of PE holders in each state (NCEES Record).The FE test and PE test in Japan are conducted by the Japan PE / FE Testing Council (JPEC) signing a contract with NCEES.

(* For each state PE law, search by state name + PE Board and hit. Go to the page displayed as "Law", "Statute", "Rule", etc. on the website of each state PE board to refer to it. can do.)

6. History and relationships of US organizations that support the PE system

The official origin of the US PE system was the PE license certification in Wyoming in 1907, but Western society has long had the ground to position Engineers as specialists or professions indispensable for the development and survival of society.

In the United States, field-specific engineer associations such as ASCE (Civil Engineers Association) and ASME (Mechanical Engineers Association) were voluntarily established around 1907, which dates back more than half a century from 1850. It is said that the foundation for gaining the trust of the public as a profession was cultivated over time, such as having a great effect on reducing the number of people. (Reference: Introduction to Ethics of Engineers, Third Edition, Sugimoto and Takashiro, 2005 Chapter 15, etc.)

Table XNUMX gives an overview of the history of the US engineer system since the Edo period in Japan, and presents not only the state government, which is a public institution, but also various non-governmental institutions, which interact with each other in multiple layers. It shows that it has shaped the US PE system.

Table XNUMX History of the development of the US engineer system


Events related to the US engineer system

Social Situation in the United States


Established ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) 1861-65 Civil War


Morrill Land Grant Act enacted – more state universities since then


Established AIME (American Mining Engineers Association)


Established ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) 1890 Sherman Act (Antitrust Act) Enacted


Established IEEE (Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)


PE law passed in Wyoming 1914-18 World War I
1917 Russian Revolution
1929 Great Depression


Established AIChE (American Association of Chemical Engineers)


NCEES Established – Initially 7 State PE Boards Participate


NCEES publishes Model Law Around 1933-38 New Deal Policy


ECPD (Professional Engineer Development Council) established – NCEES, ASCE, ASME, IEEE and others participated)


NSPE Established-Initially Four State PE Associations Participate 1939-45 World War II


NSPE publishes Code of Ethics

Around 1940

FE system begins in New York


NSPE publishes Canon of Ethics


PE law passed in all US states


NCEES begins offering FE and PE exams 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing
1970s Consumer-focused movement

Around 1976

Iowa introduces CPD filing system for PE license renewal


The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the Antimonopoly Act in the NSPE Canon of Ethics, which states that "price competitive bidding for engineering business is prohibited." After four years of court battle, NSPE settled the clause by amending it


NSPE publishes Code of Ethics – 2007 revision is current


All U.S. States Adopt NCEES PE Exams


ECPD renamed ABET (National Council for Engineering Education Certification)


Washington Accord from the US, UK and Australia comes into effect ABET participates in the US 1991 Soviet Union collapse
1995 World Trade Organization (WTO) established


Oregon PE Board Starts FE and PE Exams in Japan


NCEES FE exam by field


ABET publishes Engineering Criteria 2000 (EC2000)


Established JSPE (Japan Professional Engineers Association). Conclude a collaboration agreement with NSPE 2001 XNUMX/XNUMX terrorist attacks in the United States


NCEES PE exam is all-choice


Japan (JABEE) joins Washington Accord


FE test and PE test implementation body in Japan shifts from Oregon to NCEES


NCEES FE Exam Becomes Computer Exam (CBT)

(Reference: NCEES History, NSPE History, ABET History, JSPE 10-year history)

Figure XNUMX shows an image of the relationships between organizations applied to the life cycle of individual engineers.

7. Why the US "exports" the PE system

Since 1994, it has become possible to take the PE and FE exams operated by NCEES in Japan *, and Japanese engineers who have passed this exam and become US PEs account for most of the members of this association.
(* From 1994 to 2006, PE board (Osbeels) in Oregon is the main body, and after 2007, NCEES is the main body, and tests are conducted in Japan.
In addition, the Japan Industrial Technology Promotion Association (JTTAS) was in charge of the examination window in Japan from 1994 to 2001, but since 2002 it has been taken over by the Japan PE / FE Examination Council. )

ABET is also a founding member of the Washington Accord (a treaty organization for international mutual accreditation of engineering education accreditation) that came into effect in 1989. Is a member of.

The reason why NCEES and ABET, which support the basis of the US PE system, are trying to expand the scope of their activities outside the US is the flow of multilateral trade liberalization such as WTO (World Trade Organization) and TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). It is important to promote the international mobilization of professional engineers in order to proceed smoothly, and it is thought that contact with cultures and technologies other than the United States will lead to the improvement of the level of the United States in the long term. It is said.

The reason why Japan decided to introduce the US PE test and FE test on a private basis is the same reason as the US, and the mission of the Association (JSPE) is to bridge various exchanges between Japan and the US through the US PE system. There is in.

8. Why our association is affiliated with NSPE

As we have seen above, the US PE system is one of the public safety regulations supervised by the state PE board, but since the basis of the system is voluntarily managed by non-governmental organizations such as NCEES and ABET, it is half-governmental and half-governmental. It can be said that it is a private system.Therefore, it is said that many US PEs have a sense of crisis that if the government leaves the operation and improvement of the system to the government, it will eventually lose the trust of the public and the system itself will collapse.

For this reason, each state in the United States has a PE association (Society) for the purpose of autonomous development of the system, in addition to the state PE board that supervises the system. We are working to improve the system of.

NSPE (National Society of Professional Engineers) www.nspe.org Was founded in 1934 by jumping out of ECPD (the predecessor of ABET).The goal is to protect engineers (and society) from unqualified practitioners, make society aware of the profession of engineers, and resist unethical practices and improper compensation.To achieve that goal, NSPE was established as an organization where PE-qualified engineers gather across technical disciplines to handle a wide range of matters without using technical terms.More than 80 years have passed since then, but the basic purpose of NSPE's activities has not changed. The NSPE Strategic Plan was developed by the Board of Directors with the cooperation of state representatives, etc., and is open and transparent.

NSPEWorld image (Vision) drawn by

Engineering decisions that are life-threatening can be reassured by qualified and ethically accountable engineers (only).NSPE draws such a world image.


To develop engineers with PE qualifications so that they can contribute to society.That is the mission of NSPE.

NSPEValue as

  1. Ethics and accountability
    • Public hygiene, safety and well-being take precedence over anything else
    • Qualifications, ethics, and practices must be professional, recognized and trusted by society.
    • Adapting to new innovations that meet the changing demands of society with an eye on the future
  2. Qualifications/Licenses
    • Advocate professional standards and qualifications that allow engineers and technicians to function as a team
    • Advocate PE license as a professional practice standard for engineers
    • Advocate NICET qualification as a professional practice standard for technicians
  3. Improvement of professional ability
    • Helping anyone seeking a PE license and NICET qualification
    • Providing continuing education opportunities for qualified personnel
    • Providing and deepening knowledge of professional concerns and relationships with the outside world
  4. Consistency (or unity)
    • Engineers and technicians should be a team with a sense of coherence and solidarity across technical fields and levels.
    • NSPE is considering accepting diversity (of race and religion) into the engineer position (Note: Check if the translation is appropriate)
    • A single membership category enables regional chapters, state associations, and Washington Headquarters to provide uninterrupted membership services.

Our association JSPE (Japan Society of Professional Engineers) was established in 2000 mainly by domestic engineers with a US PE license, and established international expertise and ethical standards in Japan to improve social safety, health and welfare. The purpose is to contribute to.In this way, the purpose of the association's activities is common with NSPE in that it autonomously develops the system for professional engineers, and in 2001, an affiliation agreement was signed with NSPE. .. For information on the relationship between JSPE and NSPE, and the detailed activities of NSPE, please refer to our association.Member siteIt is in.Please refer to the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers for an overview of the US PE system. (https://www.jsme.or.jp/kaisi/1214-18/

9. Services that our association can provide for business inquiries

Our association has engineers who have passed the NCEES FE examination and PE examination and have PE license registration in each state of the United States as members, and their technical fields and occupational fields are diverse.

On the other hand, since each member works for a company, etc., the provision of services to other companies that do not work is restricted as a side business.In addition, this association is a non-profit organization and it is prohibited to carry out commercial business such as introduction of human resources.

Despite these restrictions, the Association can provide general information on the US PE system to inquiries regarding export business to the United States.

Please feel free to contact us as we are also accepting registration of cooperating organizations so that we can continue to provide information from our association.

If you are interested in acquiring PE qualification as an individual, please visit our website "For those who are interested in PE exam / registrationPlease read.


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About Japanese translation in the text

Regarding the Japanese translation of English words related to engineer qualifications such as Engineering and Engineer, various Japanese translations are still being tried, and there is no established theory yet.The text is translated into Japanese as follows.

Engineering: "Technology" when meaning business "Engineering" when meaning method
Engineer: "Engineer" when meaning a person who knows technology "Engineer" when meaning a profession
Society: Translated as "association" and not as "society"
Professional Engineer: Professional engineer
Public: Public
Board: Regulatory Commission
License: License