Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Electronics Certification Why You Need It and How to Get It.

While the accreditation and certification of those in the engineering field varies by country, the widely accepted notion is that those who have graduated from accredited programs in the electronics or electrical engineering can legally practice engineering in any of the signatory countries. This list includes, but is not limited to, Australia, Ireland, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, there is an industry-accepted procedure by which an engineer can progress from graduate to the top of their field –Electrical and Electronics: Professional Engineering (PE), the top electronics certification. The following article will detail each of those steps.

ABET – Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

The first stage in the process of gaining an electronic certification is to graduate from an ABET accredited university or institute. ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, accredits appropriate institutes in disciplines such as engineering, computing, and applies science at various academic levels. With this accreditation graduates can begin their four-step journey towards their desired electronics certification. The criteria of the ABET is largely focused on what students typically learn and experience throughout both their studies and careers.

The ABET board generally accredits programs as opposed to institutions. It adds value to the program while proving that a university course has met the standards and requirements of the industry. Graduates enter the workplace with the knowledge that they have achieved industry-leading education. ABED accreditation is seen by employers the world over as the best stamp of approval for young engineers. The policy and practice for accreditation is strict, as the vision of ABET is to assure the quality of the program, while stimulating innovation in the sciences: applied science, engineering, technology, and computing.

FE – Fundamentals of Engineering

Next, recent graduates hoping to receive an electronic certification should pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. The exam itself is conducted by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The engineering practice is licensed like other professions as states must protect the public from unethical or unsafe individual who purport to practice engineering. It is encouraged, therefore, that every individual studying engineering at an accredited institution work towards professional licensure.

Many universities and colleges nationwide offer review courses in order to help students prepare for the exam. Participating universities also encourage students to sit in on the exam during their final semester; the pass rate is typically in the region of 85%, while those who take the exam at a later date only pass at a rate of 45%.

Given its reputation as one of the most difficult exams globally, a general guideline is given to students and practicing engineers who hope to achieve this award in electrical engineering. First and foremost, students should select classes and electives while at the university which support the content of the FE exam. Then, they should sit in on a trial examination which is administered by either the PPI or NCEES. Finally, they should acquire the Fundamentals of Engineering Supplied-Reference Handbook and study the material made available by the NCEES.

Engineers who have been practicing for a number of years should, as a starting point, take a review course offered by an accredited institution. Such courses offer particularly in-depth preparation for the FE exam. At that point they can follow the steps provided to the students: acquire the handbook, and study the readily-available material.

The first four hours of the Fundamentals of Engineering exam include the topics that are common to every engineering discipline: Chemistry, Computers, Dynamics, Electrical Circuits, Engineering Economics, Engineering Ethics, Fluid Mechanics, Materials Science, Mathematics, Mechanics of Materials, Statics, and Thermodynamics. The afternoon portion of the exam, meanwhile, covers the large engineering disciplines: civil, electrical, mechanical, chemical, industrial, and environmental.

PE – Principles and Practice in Engineering

The examination in The Principles and Practice of Engineering, meanwhile, underwent a radical change in recent years: it was changed to a breadth and depth format. As such, all candidates must answer problems related to the same field during the morning examination. In the afternoon portion of the exam, candidates must choose from one of three possible modules: power engineering, computer engineering, or electronics, communications, and control systems engineering.

The exam itself is divided into two multiple-choice-question blocks, each comprising of 40 questions. The first set of questions must be answered by all candidates, while the second set can be chosen by the candidate.

There is an important distinction to be made here. In some states - almost a dozen - obtaining the PE certification qualifies you as an electrical engineer. In other states, however, obtaining the certification licenses you as a general professional engineer; you may only practice in your field of study or expertise. This means that it is impossible to become a nationally certified electrical engineer. The decisions pertaining to licensure are made by the states. With that said you can generally practice in any state by "comity"; you do not need to re-sit exams if you move to a different state.

The decision to become a PE Engineer is not one to be taken lightly. It requires at least four years of professional experience after obtaining the FE certification. There are a number of legal requirements to consider should you choose to pursue such a qualification. If, for example, you ever hope to practice as a consulting engineer, you must obtain the PE electronics certification. Furthermore, only an engineer with this certification can sign documents that are to be submitted to public authorities. The additional reasons cited by industry experts include improved employment security, opportunities for advancement, personal satisfaction, and salary.


Select few engineers earn the PE electronic certificate. The requirements are incredibly strict, you must complete four years of professional experience before you even attempt the PE exam, and some engineers choose to simply work under those with the qualification. It is a process which takes, at the very least, eight years: four years at the university, passing the FE exam, four years of working in the industry, and, finally, passing the PE exam. However, it provides engineers with the assurance that they are at the very top of their field.

Not Everyone Takes The Direct Path

While some choose the academic route, going directly for an engineering degree, others take a more indirect route by training to first get their electronic technician certification then follow the above steps.

1 comment:

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