Engineering Firm Licensing

A business entity offering engineering services to the public typically must register with the State Board of Engineers and receive a Certificate of Authorization. The Certificate of Authorization, or firm license, is necessary to practice engineering in about 75% of states. Firms practicing without one can be liable for steep penalty fees.

Licensure for engineering firms usually follows incorporation or foreign qualification of the business entity with the Secretary of State. Common legal structures for firms are corporations or professional corporations (PC), and limited liability companies (LLC) or professional LLCs. Incorporation refers to formation of the business entity, whereas foreign qualification refers to applying for a Certificate of Authority to transact business in another state.

After registration with the Secretary of State, firms must apply for a Certificate of Authorization through the relevant licensing board. It is worth noting that the Certificate of Authorization is a separate document from the Certificate of Authority used during foreign qualification. This can be a confusing for firms needing to file both documents, especially in Oklahoma and Missouri, where the licensing board form is also called a Certificate of Authority application. Applications and forms are fairly standard, but there are some differences from state to state.

Applications require proof of incorporation or foreign qualification and typically a fee. Other required items can include notarized bylaws and ownership requirements. For example, in North Carolina there are ownership requirements in order to obtain a Certificate of Authorization. A minimum of two-thirds of the controlling officers, partners, directors, or members of the entity must be engineers and/or professional engineers registered under the laws of any U.S. jurisdiction, and at least one must be an engineer registered in North Carolina.

Some states combine the applications for engineering, architecture and land surveying firm licensure into a single design firm application. Firms that provide more than one of these professional services may only need to fill out a single application but with a slightly higher application fee. Illinois, for instance, uses a general design firm application for architecture, land surveying, professional engineering, and structural engineering.

Initial Registration Fees

Fees for an initial license range from $0 to $600. Georgia and California do not require an application fee, while Alaska charges $600. The average firm fee is about $135 while the most common filing fee is $100.

Renewal Requirements

Firm license renewal varies by state. Slightly over half of the states that require a firm license call for licenses to be renewed every two years. Almost all other state licenses renew annually. California is an exception to this however, as licenses are only renewed when firm information changes.

Like initial application fees, renewal fees also vary by state. Fees range from just $10 in Georgia and to as much as $500 in Alaska. Firms can expect to pay closer to the national average of $115 when applying for a license, however, the most commonly applied fee is $50.

Alabama

More info

Agency

Alabama Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$80

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$80

Alaska

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Application fee:

$600

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$500

Arizona

More info

Agency

Arizona State Board of Technical Registration

Initial Application

Application fee:

$50

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$50

Arkansas

More info

Agency

Arkansas State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$150

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$100

California

More info

Agency

California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$0

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

Colorado

More info

Agency

Colorado State Board of Licensure for Architects, Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Not required

Firm licenses are not currently required, however, individual engineers should register with the Board of Licensure.

License Renewal

Not required

Connecticut

More info

Agency

Connecticut State Board of Examiners for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$565

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$375

Delaware

More info

Agency

Delaware Association of Professional Engineers

Initial Application

Application fee:

$187.50

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$150.00

District of Columbia

More info

Agency

District of Columbia Board of Professional Engineering

Initial Application

Not required

Firm licenses are not currently required, however, individual engineers should register with the Board of Professional Engineering.

License Renewal

Not required

Florida

More info

Agency

Florida Board of Professional Engineers (FBPE)

Initial Application

Certificate of Authorization

Application fee:

$255

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$98.75

Georgia

More info

Agency

Georgia Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$0

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$10

Hawaii

More info

Agency

Hawaii Board of Professional Engineers, Architects, Surveyors & Landscape Architects

Initial Application

Not required

Business entities (corporation, limited liability company, partnership, etc.) do not require firm licensure to practice engineering in Hawaii as long as the person overseeing the professional work is a licensed professional engineer. 

License Renewal

Not required

Idaho

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Application fee:

$175

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$60

Illinois

More info

Agency

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

Initial Application

Application fee:

$75

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

Indiana

More info

Agency

Indiana Professional Licensing Agency: Board of Registration for Professional Engineers

Initial Application

Application fee:

$25

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$20

Iowa

More info

Agency

Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau: Engineering & Land Surveying Examining Board

Initial Application

Not required

Firm licenses are not currently required, however, individual engineers should register with the Bureau of Professional Licensing.

License Renewal

Not required

Kansas

More info

Agency

Kansas State Board of Technical Professions: Engineering, Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Land Surveying

Initial Application

Application fee:

$170

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$85

Kentucky

More info

Agency

Kentucky Board of Engineers and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$100 for one practice or $150 for both

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$100 for one practice or $150 for both

Louisiana

More info

Agency

Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board

Initial Application

Application fee:

$165

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$120

Maine

More info

Agency

Maine Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers

Initial Application

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. 

License Renewal

Not required

Massachusetts

More info

Agency

Massachusetts Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and of Land Surveyors

Initial Application

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.

License Renewal

Not required

Although not requiring express licensure with the Board, LLPs and LLCs, at the time of registration and in each annual report, are required to provide to the Secretary of State information about licensed professionals. 

Michigan

More info

Agency

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) - Licensing Division

Initial Application

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.

License Renewal

Not required

Minnesota

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Application fee:

$100

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$25

Mississippi

More info

Agency

Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$100

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$100

Missouri

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Application fee:

$200

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$100

Montana

More info

Agency

Montana Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$100

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$25

Nebraska

More info

Agency

Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects

Initial Application

Application fee:

Depends on number of licensees: $100 for 1-5, $200 for 6-10, $300 for 11-49, $400 for 50+

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

Depends on number of licensees: $50 for 1-5, $150 for 6-10, $250 for 11-49, $350 for 50+

Nevada

More info

Agency

Nevada State Board of Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$50

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$50

New Hampshire

More info

Agency

New Hampshire Board of Professional Engineers

Initial Application

Application fee:

$100

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$100

New Jersey

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Certificate of Authorization Request

Application fee:

$120 for Biennial or $60 for Annual

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$120 for Biennial or $60 for Annual

New Mexico

More info

Agency

New Mexico Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Surveyors

Initial Application

Not required

Firm licenses are not currently required, however, individual engineers should register with the Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers.

License Renewal

Not required

New York

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Certificate of Authorization

Application fee:

$125

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

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

North Carolina

More info

Agency

North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers & Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$100

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$75

North Dakota

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Certificate of Commercial Practice Application

Application fee:

$200

License Renewal

Certificate of Commercial Practice Renwal

Renewal fee:

$200

Ohio

More info

Agency

Ohio Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors

Initial Application

Firm Certificate of Authorization

Application fee:

$50

License Renewal

Firm Certificate of Authorization Renewal

Renewal fee:

$50

Oklahoma

More info

Agency

Oklahoma Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Application for Certificate of Authorization

Application fee:

$200 for domestic $250 for foreign

License Renewal

Application for Certificate of Authorization Renewal

Renewal fee:

$200 for domestic $250 for foreign

Oregon

More info

Agency

Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying

Initial Application

Not required

Oregon does not currently license engineering firms, but individuals are licensed by the Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying.

License Renewal

Not required

Pennsylvania

More info

Agency

Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists

Initial Application

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.

License Renewal

Not required

Rhode Island

More info

Agency

Rhode Island Division of Design Professionals

Initial Application

PE Certificate of Authorization (COA)

Application fee:

$150

License Renewal

PE Certificate of Authorization (COA)

Renewal fee:

$50

South Carolina

More info

Agency

South Carolina Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$115

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$75

South Dakota

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Application fee:

$100

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$80

Tennessee

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Application fee:

$0

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

More info

Agency

Texas Board of Professional Engineers

Initial Application

Application fee:

$150

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$150

Utah

More info

Agency

Utah Department of Commerce - Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing

Initial Application

Not required

Firm licenses are not currently required, however, individual engineers should register with the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

License Renewal

Not required

Vermont

More info

Agency

Vermont Board of Professional Engineering

Initial Application

Not required

Firm licenses are not currently required, however, individual engineers should register with the Board of Professional Engineering.

License Renewal

Not required

Virginia

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Application fee:

$30 for Professional LLCs and $100 for all other entity types.

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$50

Washington

More info

Agency

Washington Department of Licensing - Business and Professions Division

Initial Application

Application fee:

$150

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$110

West Virginia

More info

Agency

West Virginia Board of Registration for Professional Engineers

Initial Application

Application fee:

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

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

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

Wisconsin

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Application fee:

$75

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$82

Wyoming

More info

Agency

Wyoming Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Application fee:

$75

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$90

Maryland

More info

Agency

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

Initial Application

Application fee:

$0

License Renewal

Renewal fee:

$0

Key Terms

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.

Industry Resources

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.

Engineering Licensing Compliance Guide
Licensing by state

Free White Paper

Managing Business Licensing to Maximize Returns

How Three Companies Achieved ROIs of Over 30X.

Download Now

Webinar

License to Succeed: A Guide for Companies in Regulated Industries

Presented by:
Jerri-Lynn Wier and Christian Haring

Tuesday, February 27th
1:00 - 2:00PM EDT

Register now


Engineering License Service

Our experts help engineering firms, land surveying firms, and their professionals manage licensing nationwide.

© 2012 - 2018 Harbor Compliance. All rights reserved. Harbor Compliance is not an accounting or law firm and does not provide tax, financial, or legal advice.