A Professional Engineer (PE) license is one of the sought after credentials by mechanical engineers. Depending on the type of engineering services you offer, you may or may not need the PE license. For instance, if you are a consultant or run a private business where you provide engineering services directly to the public/customers then you are required to have a PE license. To work in the HVAC or Power Plant industry you will also need this license.
Although speaking from personal experience, it always helps to earn the PE license even when you do not require it. Most of the top engineers in their fields have a PE license, and earning one opens many growth opportunities for you.
Major benefits of having a PE license include:
Valuable Credential-The PE license is an indicator of your expertise as an engineer and easily convinces employers and customers that you have a deep understanding of engineering fundamentals.
Career Progress-As an engineer once you start moving up the ladder especially in corporate sector your credential becomes crucial to earning promotions. Having a PE license surely gives you a huge advantage over your peers.
Sharper Skills-The PE exam is considered to be one of the toughest engineering exams. To pass the exam you will need to study and sharpen your skills in many segments inside and outside of your discipline. This will benefit your work as well. For instance, you may learn a few HVAC tricks preparing for thermal and fluids PE exam that you never came across while working. Learning how the principles within your discipline affect other disciplines will widen your knowledge, increase your coordination with other disciplines and increase your understanding of your own discipline and how your discipline affects other disciplines.
Independence-Once you earn a PE license you are no longer restricted to work under a brand, you can start your own private practice or become an independent consultant. This will help you in times of economic turmoil like a recession.
More Proposals-If your company bids for earning proposals then it is a common practice to list the engineers who will be working on the project. PE licensed engineers are more likely to win the proposals. Your company may also recognize how your credential improves the company resume and may also give you a raise, in an effort to keep you from going to another company.
What to know about the PE exam?
The PE exam is an eight-hour test which is split into two segments of 4 hours each. Both segments cover one of the three areas of your choice.
- Thermal and Fluids Systems
- Mechanical Systems and Materials (Machine Design)
- HVAC and Refrigeration
The exam covers the principles and applications of a list of topics. The main topics covered in the Thermal and Fluids Systems are shown below.
- Basic Engineering Practice
- Fluid Mechanics
- Heat Transfer Principles
- Mass Balance Principles
- Supportive Knowledge
- Hydraulic and Fluid Equipment & Distribution Systems
- Energy/Power Equipment
- Energy Recovery
- Combined Cycles
You get an average of 6 minutes to answer 80 questions in total. All the questions are multiple choices with four options.
You may be overwhelmed with the number of questions and the limited time so it is better to prepare with speed in mind.
PE exam is an open book test so you can bring in references. We highly recommend that you take guidance from online resources to choose the books and tools wisely. For instance, to pass the thermal and fluids PE exam, look for practice exam resources offered by a PE licensed company.