What Are the Requirements for Becoming an Engineer in the U.S.?

Engineers in the United States need a bachelor's degree in engineering. Engineers who work with the public are also required to become licensed. Licensure requirements include completing an accredited program and passing a series of exams. Schools offering Computer Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Engineer Job Description

The specific duties of an engineer differ by discipline, but, in general, engineers design, test or build materials, equipment or systems. For instance, electrical engineers may develop or test electrical equipment while civil engineers may oversee the design and construction of bridges, airports or roads. Chemical engineers design equipment or processes related to the production of food, chemicals and other products, and mechanical engineers are responsible for developing, testing and manufacturing mechanical devices.

Important Facts About Engineers

Median Salary (2014) $75,780 (for architecture & engineering occupations)
Key Skills Strong mathematical foundation, critical and analytical thinking, problem solving, observation, clear communication, good judgment and decision making
Work Environment Primarily full-time with extra hours needed to ensure project success
Similar Occupations Architects; cartographers; photogrammetrists; drafters; electro-mechanical technicians; landscape architects; surveyors

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Requirements

The requirements to become an engineer typically include a bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline, though a master's degree may be needed for advancement in some fields. Engineers who wish to become licensed to work with the public must complete a program that is accredited by ABET (formerly known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) and meet the state requirements for licensure.

Bachelor's Degree in Engineering

Bachelor of Science programs are available in a variety of disciplines, but all typically include the education and training needed to perform general engineering practices in the field of your choice. Programs typically include a combination of math and science courses, along with coursework specific to the area of study. B.S. degree programs are available in the areas such as the following:

  • Aerospace engineering
  • Agricultural engineering
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Computer engineering
  • Conservation engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Health and safety engineering
  • Industrial engineering
  • Material engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Nuclear engineering

Licensing Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many entry-level engineering positions do not require state licensure. However, earning the credential increases opportunities, particularly in leadership and management. After you earn an undergraduate degree accredited by ABET, you'll then need to complete a 2-part state licensure examination. After passing the first part of the test, you'll need to build some experience through an internship or supervised training. Following that, you may take the second part of the test to become a Professional Engineer (PE). Most states require continuing education for license renewal.

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