Planning on taking the FE Exam in Pennsylvania?
Great, this guide will give you all the ins and outs.
From eligibility requirements to finding the best FE Exam program to study with, we have you covered.
Let’s get into it.
Taking the FE Exam in Pennsylvania
It is the principal focus of the Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists to regulate the practice, licensure and registration of engineers, geologists and land surveyors in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Due to the lengthy name, we will refer to the board as the Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers from here on out.
All individuals desiring to obtain a Professional Engineer license in Pennsylvania must pass two NCEES-administered examinations, which are:
- NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE Exam)
- NCEES Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam (PE Exam)
The FE Exam and PE Exam are standardized tests written and scored by the NCEES and adopted by the Pennsylvania Board of Professional Engineers as a valid means of qualifying the competence of aspiring engineers.
Once licensed, all Professional Engineers must adhere to and uphold all aspects of the Pennsylvania Board Laws and Regulations to ensure safeguarding of life, health and property and promote the general welfare of the people of Pennsylvania.
What is the FE Exam?
The Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE Exam) is one of two exams that an aspiring engineer will take in becoming a licensed Professional Engineer.
This standardized exam is administered and graded by the NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying).
The exam itself is 5 hours and 20 minutes long with 110 questions spanning a wide range of foundational engineering concepts.
Each question is developed to confirm the level of competency of the individual in the fundamentals of engineering.
The FE Exam is a computer-based test (CBT) and closed book, though, each examinee is supplied with an NCEES reference handbook containing commonly used formulas and other useful information related to the material that is covered.
The FE Exam has 7 different exam specifications to choose from.
You may also hear the FE Exam referred to as the EIT Exam (Engineer In Training Exam) or the EI Exam (Engineering Intern Exam), all of which are the same exam.
Here’s a resource outlining all that you need to know about taking and passing the FE Exam now:
The FE Exam: What is it and why you need to take it now
When can I take the FE exam?
The Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers outlines a number of paths to gaining eligibility to sit for the FE Exam in Pennsylvania.
Generally, if you are a:
- Graduate from an undergraduate engineering program in the US accredited by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) or
- Graduate from an ABET-accredited graduate-level engineering program in the US or from a foreign ABET-accredited undergraduate or graduate engineering program
Then you are eligible to take the FE Exam and are not required to submit a separate application to the Pennsylvania Board of Engineers and Surveyors prior to applying directly through the NCEES.
If you are unsure of whether or not your program is ABET-accredited, you can perform a program search here:
ABET Accredited Engineering Degree Search
If your degree is not ABET-accredited, but are:
- A student who has completed 2 years in an ABET-accredited undergraduate program in the US and has maintained current enrollment
Then you are eligible to take the FE Exam but must first complete a pre-approval application prior to registering.
If you are a:
- Graduate from both a graduate-level and an undergraduate engineering program at a university in the US that was substantially equivalent to an ABET-accredited program or
- Graduate from a foreign undergraduate or graduate, or both, engineering program that was substantially equivalent to an ABET-accredited program
Then you must submit a pre-approval application to the Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers and prove that your degree is “substantially equivalent” to that of an ABET-accredited degree.
But what if you don’t have a degree at all?
The Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers provides a path to eligibility if you have:
- Eight years of progressive experience in engineering work and knowledge, skill and education approximating that attained through graduation from an approved engineering progam
In this case, you will first submit a pre-approval application to the board for review and approval prior to sitting for the FE Exam.
If you fall into any of the scenarios that require a pre-approval application, then you can initiate the process on the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS) site here.
To determine what documents you will need prior to starting the process, follow these steps:
- Step 1: Select Application checklist in the left navigation
- Step 2: On the Board/Commission drop down menu, select State Registration Board for Professional Engineers
- Step 3: Select Engineer in Training
- Step 4: Select No for the prompt Have you passed the NCEES FE examination?
- Step 5: Select Yes for the prompt Are you seeking Pre-Approval to sit for the NCEES FE exam by Experience, Foreign Equivalent Degree or Master’s/PHD Degree?
- Step 6: Select No for the prompt Have you already been pre-approved to sit for the FE examination?
Once this final selection is made, you will be directed to a page that gives you an overview of all the documents and information that you will need to complete the pre-approval application process.
With all the documents in hand, you can start the process by creating a Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS) account here.
These paths are unique to Pennsylvania and can be referenced in chapter 37: State Registration board for Professional Engineers here.
Can I take the FE exam without a degree?
Eligibility requirements are set state by state and typically have a series of eligibility scenarios that include both non-ABET accredited degrees and progressive engineering work experience.
But what if you don’t have a degree at all, can you take the FE exam in Pennsylvania?
As it is currently spelled out within the Pennsylvania Board of Engineering code, there is a path to gain eligibility to take the FE Exam if you can show:
- Eight years of progressive experience in engineering work and knowledge, skill and education approximating that attained through graduation from an approved engineering progam
In this case, you will need to complete the board’s pre-approval process prior to sitting for the FE Exam.
During this process, the board will require that you:
- Clearly describe the progressive engineering work that you personally performed; indicate how your engineering skills and responsibilities have progressively increased during your years of experience. Must demonstrate conclusively the years of progressive professional experience you have obtained (including detailed examples of how engineering knowledge and engineering principles, including the principles of math and science, were actually employed).
The pre-approval process can be initiated on the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS) site here.
Further, it does not appear that there is an opportunity to obtain a waiver of the FE Exam if you are able to offer sufficient evidence of your qualifications in the absence of an engineering degree.
As these waiver requirements are constantly evolving, you can reference the most current statutes under chapter 37: State Registration Board for Professional Engineers here.
What months can you take the FE exam?
The FE Exam is offered to eligible students year-round in four different testing windows, they are:
- January – March
- April – June
- July – September
- October – December
You are allowed to take the FE Exam once per testing window, but not more than 3 times in a 12-month period starting from the date of your first attempt.
Can I take the FE exam online?
You can not.
The FE Exam will be administered at a local Pearson Vue testing center in your region.
Once you register and are approved by the NCEES to take the exam, you will receive an email giving you the next steps in scheduling your exam appointment.
Through this process, you will be given options for a number of testing centers as well as what dates and times are available at those locations.
It will be important that you schedule your exam as far in advance as possible for the best scheduling availability.
Each Pearson Vue testing center is limited in capacity, so seats are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.
Though it’s never ideal and highly unlikely that there are open seats, you are able to schedule an appointment with as little as one business day before taking the exam.
What is the passing score for the FE Exam?
Any individual who is about to take on a major goal in life is going to want to know where the goalpost of success lies.
I get it.
But if you find yourself floating around the interwebs trying to get some clarity on this question, then you are sure of one thing…
Confusion – and oh, a lot of wasted time.
When it comes down to knowing the passing score for the FE Exam in Pennsylvania, there is only one right answer and it’s this –
Definitely, a letdown I know, but knowing that this is as much clarity as you will get will allow you to move on to putting in time on something that can actually make an impact come exam day.
We dive deep into this question and add a bit more context around the whole scoring process in this post:
What is the FE Exam passing score?
Knowing how the exam is going to be scored can be a huge advantage and give you confidence in the areas that you can control.
What is the FE Exam pass rate in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania does not release individual statistics for how many Pennsylvanians are passing or failing the FE Exam in any given period of time.
However, the NCEES keeps a tally of these statistics for a single testing period for the population as a whole.
Currently, the FE Exam pass rate ranges from 35% to 83% depending on the exam discipline taken.
This is a huge range, and honestly, can’t really be relied on for a number of reasons.
These statistics account only for:
- Those who took the FE exam for the first time.
- Those who attended an EAC/ABET-accredited engineering program.
- Those who took the FE exam within 12 months of graduation.
I can tell you this much –
Of 100 students that come into our program at Prepineer, 95% fall outside one (or more) of these criteria.
The moral of the story, these stats reflect a population of individuals who meet the ideal testing characteristics of a candidate, not the mean characteristics as a whole.
Use them with a grain of salt.
How do I create an FE Exam schedule?
Getting your FE Exam study plan dialed in from the start is of the utmost importance in ensuring that you see this journey through.
But let’s be real.
We are on record for being horrible estimators of our time.
But it’s not any one of us individually, those big shot estimators who are supposedly “educated” in the realm of scheduling fall right there beside us in falling short.
Think about all those highly funded construction projects that go far past the scheduled finish date.
So with that, how can I best guide you in developing your study plan for your upcoming FE Exam in Pennsylvania?
We have spent a lot of time developing resources in the realm of FE Exam scheduling, here are a few to start with:
- Your FE Exam Study Schedule Sucks
- Here’s how to actually get started…with confidence – The 80/20 Abbreviated Study Plan
How many hours should I study for the FE Exam?
Determining how many hours a student should be putting in each day is one of the hardest things to do for a coach.
However, after over a decade of helping engineers just like you prepare for and pass the FE Exam, I can give you a general guideline as a starting point.
So whether you are taking the FE Exam in Pennsylvania or Georgia, start with this.
Over the years, we have seen students spend somewhere between 150-350 hours preparing for the FE Exam.
The lower end of this spectrum is typically those that are recent graduates or within a few years of graduation.
The upper end is typically those that graduated 20+ years ago and haven’t picked up a book in just as long.
Wherever the student feels they will fall, at Prepineer, we encourage them to spread this time over a period of at least 90 days – but prefer to see them give themselves closer to 110-120 days to be prepared.
This historically has played out to be much more realistic in the context of real-life, day-to-day responsibilities.
To help you go deeper in this area, we developed the ultimate guide in determining how long you should study for the FE Exam.
Down to what it all looks like from a daily, hourly effort.
You can access the guide here:
How long should I study for the FE Exam?
In running through this guide, you will have a much better understanding of what the landscape ahead looks like.
It will allow you to reveal many landmines up front so you can put in measures to avoid them.
It will help you understand the real effort and reinforce your confidence that you are doing things right when you do inevitably hit those unforeseen obstacles.
It’s the best you can do when it comes to determining how many hours you should study for the FE Exam.
Where is the best place for FE Exam practice?
As you learn more about the FE Exam in Pennsylvania, you will realize just how much needs to get done and how important preparing for it the right way is.
I am confident in saying that you can get this done…
But truth is, most won’t pursue the FE Exam because they will tell themselves that they can’t, for one reason or another.
At Prepineer, we have put together a proven system of coaching and curriculum that has helped even the most challenged individuals pass the FE Exam in Pennsylvania.
Learn more about how Prepineer is the best way to study for the FE Exam and get started for free.
In Prepineer you will:
- Get a real coach who knows how to get you to the finish line, despite how impossible you may think it is.
- A custom study plan that breaks down exactly where you should be spending your efforts.
- Proven curriculum that has helped even the most challenged find success.
Use Prepineer for 7 days free, with no obligations.
How much is the FE Exam in Pennsylvania?
Some state licensing boards require that examinees file a separate application and pay an additional application fee as part of their approval process in order to qualify to take the FE.
If you are a graduate of an ABET-accredited engineering program, then you are not required to submit a separate application to the Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers and can register directly through the NCEES.
The current cost to take the FE Exam is $175 and can be paid directly to the NCEES at the time of registering.
The whole registration process can be started through your myNCEES account here.
However, if you are:
- Currently enrolled and in your final two semesters of an ABET Accredited engineering program or
- A graduate of an engineering program that is not ABET Accredited or
- Do not have a degree but are able to show eight years of progressive experience in engineering work and knowledge, skill and education
Then the Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers requires that you submit an online application and obtain approval to take the FE Exam before applying through the NCEES.
With this, there will be additional fees beyond that of the standard FE Exam fee charged by the NCEES.
Let’s break them down.
Pre-approval application fee
For starters, an additional non-refundable pre-approval application fee of $25 will be required to start the process through the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS).
NCEES’s credentials evaluations
For degrees that are not ABET accredited, which includes foreign degrees, you will need to:
- Show that your degree is substantially equivalent to an ABET-accredited curriculum, as shown by an evaluation of the candidate’s credentials by NCEES’s credentials evaluation division.
The current cost to have your degree evaluated through the NCEES is $350 and will be paid at the end of the application process.
If you decide to cancel the evaluation and request a refund, then a $50 administrative fee will be assessed.
The NCEES will not grant refunds for applications submitted more than one year prior to the refund request.
You can find more information regarding NCEES degree evaluations here.
Pearson VUE processing fee
Once your pre-approval application is submitted through the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS), you will be required to submit an $85 processing fee to Pearson VUE.
This fee is separate from fees paid to the Board and NCEES throughout this process and may be paid by calling Pearson VUE at 877-883-1370.
The Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers states that you should wait until the next business day after submitting your application before attempting to pay this fee.
What are the FE Exam Requirements?
To take the FE Exam in Pennsylvania, there are different requirements that must be fulfilled in order to gain eligibility to take the FE Exam.
As discussed, eligibility is not set uniformly across the board by the NCEES, but rather, by each state’s engineering board.
With this, the eligibility requirements to sit for the exam in Wyoming may differ from when one can sit for the exam in Pennsylvania.
If you hold an ABET-accredited degree, then to take the FE Exam in Pennsylvania, you are not required to validate your educational background prior to sitting for the exam.
Once you do pass the exam, you will need to submit an application to receive your EIT Certification, and it’s at this point that your education will be verified.
The ABET accredited degree is the creme de la creme when it comes to fulfilling Pennsylvania’s educational requirements, but it’s not the only route.
What if you don’t have an ABET-accredited degree?
What if you don’t have a degree at all?
Or your degree is from a university outside the states?
Is there any way that you can still fulfill the requirements and take the FE Exam?
The short answer is YES!
These requirements have been outlined in previous sections and the paths can generally be summarized as:
- A student who has completed 2 years in an ABET-accredited undergraduate program in the US and has maintained current enrollment is eligible to take the FE Exam but must first submit an application for aproval
- A graduate from both a graduate-level and an undergraduate engineering program at a university in the US that was substantially equivalent to an ABET-accredited program must first submit an application for approval to take the FE Exam
- A graduate from a foreign undergraduate or graduate, or both, engineering program that was substantially equivalent to an ABET-accredited program must first submit an application for approval to take the FE Exam
- An individual with eight years of progressive experience in engineering work and knowledge, skill and education approximating that attained through graduation from an approved engineering program must first submit an application for approval to take the FE Exam
The pre-approval application process can be initiated on the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS) site here.
With all of this, instead of sifting through all the current regulations and mandates, I suggest you give a call directly to the Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers and they will give you the most direct route to understanding the next step for you.
Who should I contact if I have more questions about the FE Exam in Pennsylvania?
It has been said a number of times, but it’s worth mentioning again.
Eligibility requirements are constantly in flux, and what is mentioned in this resource may not answer all of your questions.
If this is the case, the Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers can provide you with the latest details concerning the FE Exam in Pennsylvania.
They can be contacted at:
- Website: https://www.dos.pa.gov/eng
- Contact: Jeannie Bronshtein
- Email: [email protected]
- Phone: (717) 783-7049
- Fax: (717) 705-5540
- Address: 2601 North Third Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110
Final Thoughts on taking the FE Exam in Pennsylvania
I hope that this resource has brought you clarity on taking the FE Exam in Pennsylvania.
But I know, just as many answers I have given, there may have been just as many new questions about how you can get it done.
But passing the FE Exam shouldn’t be a mystery.
Sadly though, many will doubt that they can get it done, and in turn, give up on themselves and their careers.
I don’t want that to be you.
If I offered to show you a system that has worked for thousands in your same shoes pass the FE, would you take it? Click here to start your trial and learn the exact framework that will help you pass the FE Exam in Pennsylvania.