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Benefits of Being Licensed

  • I’ve graduated from college with a degree, why do I have to take another test?
  • I"m sick of school, I’ll take the exam in a couple of years.
  • I’m not sure how being licensed will benefit me but it looks like it will be more trouble than it’s worth.
  • I’m ready to start my career-I don’t want to start out as an “Intern”.
  • Are you kidding me?  The test is on a Saturday??

Do any of these statements sound familiar?  If so, you are not alone.  The decision to take an 8 hour exam on a Saturday certainly seems like a lot of work, especially when you are in your final year of college and have so much other stuff to do so you can graduate.  And, of course, who isn’t tired of books and tests by the time you are a senior in college?  But, rather than focus on the extra work taking the FE exam will take, why not take a look at some of the benefits?

Status:  The use of the professional title, either Professional Engineer or Professional Land Surveyor, carries a level of prestige with it.  In North Dakota, the use of the title is restricted by law.  Only those individuals who have passed the exams, have the right education and the right experience are qualified enough to use them.  Signing your name and placing “P.E.” or “P.L.S.” behind it raises your professional credibility, and most importantly at this state of your career, increases your employability.

Employment Opportunity:  Companies are always looking for ways to increase their marketability so their bottom line profit increases.  An individual who is licensed can take on a variety of different projects legally.  There is no need to have a supervising professional or rely on an industrial exemption to practice.  If you are licensed, you are more marketable and more profitable for a potential employer.  In short, unlicensed individuals are not as marketable and as profitable as licensed individuals.

Responsible Charge:  Doesn't everyone want to become the boss someday?  If so, you need to be licensed.  Only a licensed individual can sign and seal documents in private practice.  Government agencies are taking their cue from the private sector and requiring professional licenses to progress beyond certain pay grades.  If you want to design your own project and see it come to reality, you need to be licensed.

Flexibility:  The past few years have shown that even the largest manufacturers and businesses fail.  If you don’t have a license but want to continue in the engineering or land surveying profession, your only options are to take a job with an engineering or surveying firm and work under someone else’s supervision, or find a job with a government agency that doesn’t require a license.  If you had a license to back yourself up, you would not only be more enticing to potential employers, you would be able to start your own business while you are looking for work.  Think of your license as job insurance.

Money:  Last, but certainly not least, is higher income for licensed professionals.  According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the average salary for an engineer in the U.S. in 2011 was $99,738, slightly lower than the $102,227 figure reported in the 2010 survey. Average income for engineers varies depending on discipline, qualifications, experience, and location. The National Society of Professional Engineers reports that P.E.s average $20,000 a year more in salary compared to unlicensed engineers in comparable positions.

For land surveying, PayScale.com reports that the average salary for those who hold a Professional Land Surveyor license can earn as much as $43.00 per hour, as of September 2010.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average entry-level salary for an unlicensed surveyor who has a four-year college degree is $44,000. 

Of course, these salary ranges only reflect what you can earn if you are working for someone else.  If you have a professional license, you can start your own business and your earning potential increases significantly.