Becoming A Professional Engineer
Fundamentals of Engineering Exam
The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam is the first step for civil engineering students to attain a Professional Engineer (PE) license. We encourage all civil engineering students to take the FE Exam. The civil engineering program of the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment holds a very high pass rate for the exam, well above the national average. Students will never be more prepared to pass the FE Exam than in the final year of their civil engineering degree program (BS, ME, MS). If the decision is made to take the exam later, it will likely require much more preparation time to be successful.
The exam is offered online via test centers (the nearest test center to Charlottesville is located in Glen Allen, a western suburb of Richmond) and students will be able to schedule this exam at a time and location that is convenient. The FE is a six-hour exam which focuses on all areas of civil engineering. Students pursuing the environmental engineering track may choose to take the Environmental FE exam. Students may review specific content of the exam on the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) website.
It is recommended for undergraduate students who are within 12 months of graduating to take the FE Exam. For graduate students with non-engineering undergraduate degrees it is recommended to take the FE exam after a minimum of two semesters of graduate study. Applications, detailed information about the exam, study guides, and instructions can be found on the NCEES website (https://ncees.org/engineering/).
To assist students in preparing for this exam, the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment offers a review class in the Spring semesters. This course reviews general civil engineering content for the exam (e.g. fluid mechanics, statics, strength of materials, chemistry, physics, mathematics, etc.) and also covers environmental engineering concepts to prepare students who choose to focus on the Environmental FE exam.
Upon passing the FE exam, students may then petition to become designated as Engineer-In-Training (EIT). There is a time period in which you may start this petition, depending upon specific state regulations. In Virginia, you may start this process within 3 months of your expected graduation date. The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Registration (VDPOR) is responsible for engineering registrations in Virginia. All regulations, eligibility requirements, forms, etc. can be found at their website. Specific applications forms include degree verification (requires signature verification from either the Undergraduate or Graduate Dean’s Office), verification of a passing score on the exam (you will receive a letter from NCEES to be attached to this form), and a reference form from a registered Professional Engineer (this is usually provided by a civil engineering faculty member). All of these forms for registration in Virginia can be found at this address. A list of all state registration organizations can be found on the NCEES website for those students interested in obtaining their EIT designation in another state.