Engineering Firm Licensing

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Engineering firms have regulatory hurdles to clear at every phase in their development.

When expanding into new geographies, firms quickly find that what works in one state often doesn’t apply in the next. Perhaps their name cannot be registered in a new jurisdiction, or their present ownership is unacceptable, or their corporate structure is not allowed. Or they submit an application only to find that the new state follows a different process and they’ve missed a prerequisite, sending them back to the beginning.

Maintaining licenses and good standing throughout their existing footprint presents further challenges, including license renewals, tracking continuing education credits, coordinating COAs and qualifier licenses, and maintaining accurate records with state authorities. Any disconnect between these disparate aspects of compliance can jeopardize the firm’s licensing and ability to perform.

Many of these nuances are not captured in state websites, leaving firms to uncover them through a slow process of exploration and discovery. This can tie up significant staff time and even impede performance and growth.

For example, when entering a new state, firms must register with the secretary of state to do business as an out-of-state or “foreign” firm. In 37 states, firms must also apply for a COA through the state engineering licensing board. In five additional states, firms must complete requirements other than licensing before offering services. (Some of these requirements can be every bit as time-consuming as a full-blown license application, so don’t assume lack of a license equates to easy entry).

Since firms must generally obtain COAs before offering services in a state, the timeline to licensing is critical to business development. Yet at the time of this writing, obtaining a COA can take anywhere from 4 to 22 weeks, depending on the state.

Add to this the fact that some jurisdictions are rejecting as many as 4 out 5 applications for minor paperwork missteps, and you begin to see the complexity of the regulatory landscape engineering firms must navigate at each stage of the corporate lifecycle.

The following highlights areas that most commonly trip up engineering firms managing licensing across multiple jurisdictions. In addition to researching the requirements thoroughly, you can take advantage of our full range of AE compliance solutions, from purpose-built software to expert services to make the task easier.

License and Registration Requirements for Engineering Firms

Entering New States

When evaluating opportunities in new jurisdictions, it’s important to check requirements concerning the following:

Order of Operations

In most states, registration with the SOS precedes firm licensing. Yet in a few states, firms must receive approval from the engineering licensing board before registering with the SOS. It’s important to research the order of steps in a new state before beginning any applications.

Name Requirements

In some states, engineering firms must include some form of the word “engineering” in their names, while in others, firms are subject to additional requirements if their names contain such as reference. As a result, firms often need to adopt fictitious names to operate in new states.

Corporate Structure

Engineering firms are required to form under a specific structure in many states. For example, in Vermont, engineering firms must form as professional corporations (PCs) or professional limited liability companies, while in New Jersey, out-of-state engineering firms are forbidden from forming a PC. For this reason, corporate structure should be examined early and carefully when contemplating a new jurisdiction.

Ownership and Management Requirements

Another area to consider when licensing an engineering firm in new geographies is ownership and management. Many states require firms to have a specific share of ownership by licensed engineering professionals. In New York, which is one of the more stringent states for engineering firms, all partners must be licensed in New York. In other states, licensed engineers must hold specific management positions in the firm. Because of these requirements, firms may need to form a new entity under a different mix of owners to work in a particular state.

Design Firm Licenses

Some states combine the applications for engineering with other AE disciplines into a single design firm application. Illinois, for instance, uses a general design firm application for architecture, land surveying, professional engineering, and structural engineering.

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Maintaining Compliance

Once licensed, firms must work to maintain COAs, licenses of individual qualifiers, and good standing of their entity in each state.

License Renewals

Most COAs must be renewed every one to two years. If your firm has been disciplined by any state licensing board, this must usually be disclosed in renewals. In addition, firms should track renewals of individual engineer licenses, particularly for engineers in responsible charge. Since renewals require continuing education (CE), it’s important for firms to have a system in place for tracking CE credits and reminding engineers of upcoming renewal deadlines.

Maintaining Accurate Records

Firms must also maintain accurate records with state agencies. To change their names or addresses, firms must notify the engineering board and fill out new certificate of authorization or change forms, depending on the state. Many firms don’t realize that if they are changing their name, they must first register the change with the secretary of state. Interestingly, in some states this requires prior approval of the engineering board!

Tracking Qualifier Licenses

In addition, firms must be vigilant in tracking the licenses of qualifying engineers and promptly reporting changes in their information or status to state agencies. If a qualifier leaves, the firm has a limited time to appoint a replacement or risk forfeiting the COA. Because most firms lack software to connect COAs and qualifier licenses, this is a major source of inadvertent unlicensed activity within the industry.

Branch Office Registration

In some states, branch offices must be registered individually with the secretary of state. Some states require an engineer in responsible charge for each branch location. In addition, it’s important to accurately document which branch offices and associated engineers will be providing services on a particular contract and ensure that they are properly licensed according to the requirements of the state where the work is being done. This is another area that frequently trips up multi-state firms.

Corporate Lifecycle Filings

In addition to managing COAs and qualifier licenses, engineering firms must maintain good standing in each state by maintaining registered agent service and submitting annual reports and other corporate lifecycle filings. Deadlines vary with each jurisdiction, so firms need a reliable means for tracking deadlines and alerting staff of upcoming due dates to safeguard their good standing.

Streamline Paperwork and Eliminate Risk

For engineering firms, licensing and entity management will always be complex. But with the right technology and support, your firm can navigate these complexities with confidence, agility, and efficiency. Our software and fully managed services for engineering firms provide the resources you need to reduce risk, reclaim staff hours spent on government paperwork, and capture more opportunities.

Alabama

Our Resources:

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Agency

Alabama Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$80

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by January 31.

Alaska

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Agency

Alaska State Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$500 ($200 application fee plus $300 registration fee) 

Form:

Certificate of Authorization for Corporate LLC, or LLP Practice

License Renewal

Fee:

$300 for licensees that registered in the first half of the biennial license period and $150 for licensees that registered during the second half of the biennial license period.

Form:

Biennial Certificate of Authorization Renewal for Corporate LLC or LLP Practice

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.

Arizona

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Agency

Arizona State Board of Technical Registration

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Form:

Annual Firm Registration (Renewal)

Due:

Annually

Arkansas

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Agency

Arkansas State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$150

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Application

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Form:

COA Renewal

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Due:

Biennially by December 31. Licenses ending in even numbers must be renewed every even-numbered year, and licenses ending in odd numbers must be renewed every odd-numbered year.

California

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Agency

California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists

Initial Application

License Renewal

Not required

Registrations do not expire, but firms must notify the board when entity information changes.

Colorado

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Not required

Engineering firms are not licensed at the state level in Colorado. Business entities are permitted to practice engineering provided that they comply with CO Stat. § 12-25-104.

Connecticut

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Agency

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection - Occupational and Professional Licensing Division

License Renewal

Fee:

$375

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually


Agency

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection - Occupational and Professional Licensing Division

License Renewal

Fee:

$375

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by April 30.

Delaware

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Agency

Delaware Association of Professional Engineers

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$150

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Application (Renewal)

Due:

Annually by June 30.

District of Columbia

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all engineering work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Florida

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Agency

Florida Board of Professional Engineers (FBPE)

Initial Application

Fee:

$230 for a regular license or $180 for a temporary certificate.

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$98.75

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially by February 28.

Georgia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Georgia Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

License Renewal

Fee:

$10

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

By June 30 of even-numbered years.

Hawaii

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Not required

Engineering firms are not licensed at the state level in Hawaii. Business entities are permitted to practice architecture provided that they comply with HAR § 16-115-4.

Idaho

Our Resources:

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Agency

Idaho Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors (IPELS)

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$120

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually on the last day of the month that the COA was issued in.

Illinois

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Agency

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

License Renewal

Fee:

$75

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Expires on April 30 of every odd year.

Indiana

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Not required

Indiana does not issue firm licenses at the state level and no longer requires professional corporations to obtain a certificate of registration before incorporating.

Iowa

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all engineering work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Kansas

Our Resources:

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Agency

Kansas State Board of Technical Professions

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$95

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Business Entities with names beginning with A-L renew by December 31 in even numbered years; M-Z renew by December 31 in odd numbered years. 

Kentucky

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Agency

Kentucky Board of Engineers and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$100 for an engineering firm permit or $150 for an engineering and land surveying firm permit.

Form:

Application for Business Entity Permit

License Renewal

Fee:

$100 for an engineering firm permit or $150 for an engineering and land surveying firm permit.

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Louisiana

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Agency

Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$120

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Either March 31 or September 30 Biennially

Maine

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Not required

A firm, copartnership, corporation or joint stock association may engage in the practice of professional engineering in Maine, provided that the practice is carried on only by professional engineers licensed in the State. See 32 M.R.S. § 1253.

Maryland

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Agency

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation - Board for Professional Engineers

Initial Application

Fee:

$0

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$0

Filing Method:

Online

Due:Biennially by the registration date.

Massachusetts

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Not required

  • Although not requiring express licensure with the Board, a co- partnership, corporation or joint stock association may practice engineering provided that the person in direct charge, control, and supervision of the practice is a professional engineer holding a Massachusetts certificate of registration and is an active participant in the contracting, reporting, publishing, scheduling, etc. of professional services being offered by the firm.
  • Engineering firms may need to file a regulatory board certificate with the secretary of state prior to forming a professional entity.

Michigan

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Not required

Engineering firms must receive approval from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs before offering engineering services to the public. Submit all required firm information and statements to the department in order to receive approval.

Minnesota

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Agency

Minnesota Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying Landscape Architecture, Geoscience and Interior Design

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Form:

Professional Firm Registration Renewal

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Mississippi

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50 online or $75 by mail.

Form:

Certificate of Authority Application (Renewal)

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Missouri

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Missouri Board For Architects, Professional Engineers, Professional Land Surveyors and Professional Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Licenses originally issued in even-numbered years expire on December 31 of each even-numbered year and licenses originally issued in odd-numbered years expire on December 31 of each odd-numbered year.

Montana

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Agency

Montana Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Form:

Certificate of Authority Renewal

Due:

Annually by October 1.

Nebraska

Our Resources:

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Agency

Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects

Initial Application

Fee:

Tiered fee structure by number of licensees. 1-5: $100 6-10: $200 11-49:$300 50+: $400

Form:

Application for Certificate of Authorization

License Renewal

Fee:

Tiered fee structure by number of licensees. 1-5: $50 6-10: $150 11-49:$250 50+: $350

Form:

Renewal forms are mailed a month prior to expiration.

Due:

Biennially from date of issuance.

Nevada

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Nevada State Board of Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$50

Form:

Firm Registration

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually within 30 days of the anniversary date or originial filing

New Hampshire

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Agency

New Hampshire Board of Professional Engineers

License Renewal

New Jersey

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs - State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$120 for Biennial or $60 for Annual

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$120 for Biennial or $60 for Annual

Form:

Renewal Application

Due:

By August 31 of even-numbered years.

New Mexico

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all engineering work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

New York

Our Resources:

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Agency

New York State Education Department: Office of the Professions - State Board for Engineering & Land Surveying

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$75. Late fees are $10 per month of uncertified practice.

Form:

Renewal applications are sent in the mail.

Due:

Triennially

North Carolina

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Agency

North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers & Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$75

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by June 30.

North Dakota

Our Resources:

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Agency

North Dakota State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$200

Form:

Certificate of Commercial Practice Renewal

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Ohio

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Ohio Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Renewal

Due:

Biennially by June 30

Oklahoma

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Oklahoma Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$200 for domestic $250 for foreign

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$200 for domestic $250 for foreign

Due:

Biennially

Oregon

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all engineering work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Pennsylvania

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Not required

Pennsylvania does not license firms, but requires that engineering companies have at least one licensed engineer on staff. The name registration for is only required for firms with some form of "Engineer" in the name. You must receive board approval prior to foreign qualification.

Rhode Island

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Rhode Island Division of Design Professionals

Initial Application

Fee:

$150

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially

South Carolina

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

South Carolina Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$75

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

By March 31 of odd-numbered years.

South Dakota

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation: Board of Technical Professions

Initial Application

Fee:

$100

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$80

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially by the date of issuance.

Tennessee

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance: Tennessee Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners

Initial Application

License Renewal

Not required

No renewal form is required, however, firms must notify the board within 60 days if a change occurs to the information listed on the disclosure.

Texas

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Texas Board of Professional Engineers

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$150

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by the end of the month the license was issued in.

Utah

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all engineering work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Vermont

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all engineering work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Virginia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.

Washington

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Washington Department of Licensing - Business and Professions Division

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$110

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually

West Virginia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

West Virginia Board of Registration for Professional Engineers

Initial Application

Fee:

$0 for Sole Proprietorship, $100 for firms with 3 or fewer PEs, or $150 for firms with more than 3 PEs. 

Form:

Engineering Authorized Company Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$0 for Sole Proprietorship, $100 for firms with 3 or fewer PE's, or $600 for firms with more than 3

Form:Forms are sent in the mail.Due:

Biennially

Wisconsin

Our Resources:

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Agency

Wisconsin Examining Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, Professional Engineers, Designers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$82

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Renewal

Due:

By January 31 of even-numbered years.

Wyoming

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Wyoming Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$90

Form:

Renewal for Business Entity Authorization

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Design Firm - Engineering firm registration is sometimes grouped with architecture and land surveying on a single “design firm” application form.

EI (Engineering Intern) - A term also used to describe an Engineer in Training.

EIT (Engineer in Training) - A professional designation granted upon having completed at least 3 years of school at an ABET-accredited university and having passed the FE exam.

FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) - An exam testing on basic engineering principles that is required to become an engineer in training.

PE (Professional Engineer or 'Principles and Practice in Engineering') - Means either Professional Engineer or refers to the Principles and Practice in Engineering exam that is a prerequisite for an engineering license.

Reciprocity - When a licensed engineer in one state can provide documentation (often an NCEES Record) to more easily apply for a license in another jurisdiction.

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
Accrediting board that sets standards for university programs in a variety of applied science disciplines.

American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)
Engineering, architecture, and land surveying advocacy group.

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Organization that provides continuing education, professional conferences, and advocacy efforts to the civil engineering community.

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
Mechanical engineering organization that focuses on education and professional development.

Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC)
Reviews accreditation requirements and makes final decisions regarding the accreditation process.

National Council of Examiners for Engineering & Surveying (NCEES)
Develops, administers, and scores the exams used for engineering licenses.

National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
NSPE is an advocacy group for professional engineers.

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