ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
Undergraduate Programs

Becoming a Licensed, Professional Engineer

More information

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) provides information on licensure, the tests, and study materials.

On its Engineering License website, the NCEES answers questions regarding the process and purpose of licensing.

The National Society of Professional Engineers provide licensing information, as well as resources concerning engineering ethics, legal licensing issues, requirements of different states, and salary and employment information.

The IEEE Licensure and Registration Committee provides positions, resources, and information regarding engineering licensing specific to electrical and computer engineers.

IEEE reviews are available in ECE topics, including communications, electronics, machinery and applications, and transmission & distribution.

The ECE faculty recommends that every ECE student seriously consider whether to become a licensed engineer. Licensing is a mark of your high-quality technical knowledge, skills, and experience. In many states, only licensed, professional engineers may use the title 'engineer.'

The Value to ECEs of Being Licensed

While licensing is required only of ECEs in the consulting and public works industries, most electrical and computer engineers change industries, companies, and technologies during their 40-year careers. It is very hard to predict the exact path your engineering career will take. The IEEE, the professional organization for electrical and computer engineers, encourages ECEs to become licensed.

The path toward licensing involves 4 steps:

  1. Graduating from an accredited engineering program
  2. Passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam (Formerly called the EIT exam - typically taken right before graduation)
  3. Experience
  4. Passing the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam for your discipline

Fundamentals of Engineering Exam

This is a full-day exam that, in the morning session, covers fundamental knowledge across many engineering disciplines. For the afternoon portion, test takers can choose either upper-level general knowledge questions, or disicpline-specific ones.

Taking the FE Exam Senior Year


  • You will likely never be better prepared, while your course knowledge is fresh in your mind.
  • Each spring, the College of Engineering offers a review seminar, ESM 4404, that results in high pass rates. ECE pass rate has been 88%-94% in recent years.
  • It is valuable in emphasizing common principles across engineering disciplines.
  • It is a nationally recognized exam that represents a major achievement.
  • Preparing for the test assists Virginia Tech graduates in technical interviews.


  • Preparing for the exam can be a burden during heavy-workload semesters.
  • Most ECEs will not need professional licensing. Typically only those who enter consulting, power engineering, and public works need licensing.
  • Many ECEs feel that modern topics in computers and signal processing are not adequately represented on the exam.
  • ECEs no longer are required to take courses in some areas covered by the exam, such as mechanics of deformable bodies and thermodynamics.