Engineering Licensing Compliance

Comprehensive licensing information for engineers and engineering firms

This guide contains an overview of engineering licensure and the specific requirements in each state. Whether you are a principal of an engineering firm, an employee within a firm, or a recent graduate starting your career, you will face professional licensing requirements at every stage. Complying with professional licensing requirements is key to maintaining your legal authority to practice and avoiding state imposed penalties for noncompliance. Feel free to share this guide and bookmark it as a reference.


Individual Engineer Licensing

Overview of Requirements

All 50 states and DC require engineers to be individually licensed before practicing or soliciting business. Each state has its own professional standards for engineering licenses. There are certain prerequisites for licensing, which vary slightly by state. Generally speaking, the requirements include:

  • A four-year engineering degree from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited college or university program with a degree in engineering.
  • Successful completion of a Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) written examination, testing an applicant’s breadth of understanding of basic engineering principles, with some exams also testing elements of an engineering specialty. (Upon completion of the FE exam, applicants may request certification as an engineer in training (EIT), also known as an engineer intern (EI)).
  • Successful completion of a written Principles and Practice in Engineering (PE) examination, testing an applicant's knowledge and skills in a specific engineering discipline and engineering ethics.
  • A requisite amount of engineering experience, which for most states is four years and is usually under the supervision of a professional engineer.

ABET Waiver: In some cases, a state board of engineering may waive the requirement of an ABET-accredited degree and register an applicant who has demonstrated professional experience that is deemed to be equivalent to a degree in engineering from an accredited program.

Once these initial steps are complete, an aspiring engineer can begin the application process in his or her state. Licensing is administered by the board of engineering in each state. The specific requirements, application fees, and processing times vary by state.

Additional Requirements

Each state has their own additional requirements. Common requirements include:

  • Duration of state residency
  • Reference from licensed engineer
  • Duration of internship or training
  • Additional experience
  • Additional jurisdiction-specific exam (beyond the FE and PE)

To read individual licensing requirements for a specific state, please use the guide navigation to your right. Each state has different requirements for initial, reciprocal, and renewal applications.

Initial Application Fees

Fees vary widely by state. The fee in Delaware is just $50 whereas the Illinois fees for registration by examination by a resident are $373. States typically charge an application fee plus the fees for processing exam applications.

Reciprocal Registration

Reciprocity is when a registered engineer in one jurisdiction applies for registration in another by providing documentation that he or she meets that jurisdiction's registration requirements. Typically this is accomplished through an NCEES Record.

Registration boards examine and keep a record of qualifications for each applicant for registration. Many registration boards expect a NCEES Record as a basis for reciprocal registration, although a some consider applicants without this record. A complete copy of an applicant’s NCEES Record will be provided to a registration board in support of the application for reciprocal registration.

If reciprocal registration is permitted, there will be an application fee registration. For example, the fee for the Engineer by Reciprocity application is $110 in Washington and $125 in California.

Renewal Requirements

Generally speaking, individual licenses must be renewed periodically. The renewal frequency is one to two years, depending on the state. State fees also vary. California imposes a renewal fee of $115 for a two-year period, while Wisconsin renewal is $82. Continuing education (CE) is required in nearly every state. Keeping up with each state’s requirements, tracking renewals, and submitting the applications on time is critical to avoiding penalties for noncompliance.


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Glossary

(Hover for definition.)

Design Firm
EIT (Engineer in Training)
EI (Engineering Intern)
FE (Fundamentals of Engineering)
PE (Professional Engineer or Principles and Practice in Engineering)
Reciprocity


Industry Resources

There are five key organizations that represent various groups responsible for engineer education, training, registration, and practice.

(Hover for description. Click to visit their website.)

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC)
National Council of Examiners for Engineering & Surveying (NCEES)
The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)

Engineering Firm Licensing

Overview of Requirements

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 $400. Georgia and Tennessee do not require an application fee, while Nebraska could charge as much as $400 depending on how many licensed individually licensed engineers the firm employs. 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 $600 in West Virginia. 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.

Table of Firm Licenses

The following table summarizes firm licensing requirements across the United States. Click on any state for the licensing information specific to that state.

State Agency Initial Application License Renewal

Alabama

More info
Alabama Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

$80

$80

Alaska

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

$600

$500

Arizona

More info
Arizona State Board of Technical Registration

$50

$50

Arkansas

More info
Arkansas State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Surveyors

$150

$100

California

More info
California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

$0

Colorado

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

Not required.

Not required.

Connecticut

More info
Connecticut State Board of Examiners for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

$565

$375

Delaware

More info
Delaware Association of Professional Engineers

$187.50

$150.00

Delaware Division of Professional Regulation: Board of Land Surveyors

$174

District of Columbia

More info
District of Columbia Board of Professional Engineering

Not required.

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

Not required.

Florida

More info
Florida Board of Professional Engineers (FBPE)

$255

$98.75

Florida Board of Professional Surveyors and Mappers

Regular License - $255 Fee
Temporary License - $180 Fee

$355 ($350 renewal fee and $5 unlicensed activity fee).

Georgia

More info
Georgia Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

$0

$0

$10

$10

Hawaii

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

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. 

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. 

Idaho

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

$175

$60

Illinois

More info
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

$75

Indiana

More info
Indiana Professional Licensing Agency: Board of Registration for Professional Engineers

$25

$50

Iowa

More info
Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau: Engineering & Land Surveying Examining Board

Not required.

Not required.

Kansas

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

$170

$85

Kentucky

More info
Kentucky Board of Engineers and Land Surveyors

$100 for one practice or $150 for both

$100 for one practice or $150 for both

Louisiana

More info
Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board

$165 or $330 for both 

$120

Maine

More info
Maine Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers

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. 

Not required.

Maryland

More info
Maryland Board for Professional Land Surveyors

$135 (of which $35 is non-refundable application fee)

$100

Massachusetts

More info
Massachusetts Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and of Land Surveyors

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. 

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

Not required.

Not required.

Minnesota

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

$100

$25

Mississippi

More info
Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors

$100

$100

$100

$100

Missouri

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

$200

$100

Montana

More info
Montana Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

$100

$25

Nebraska

More info
Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects

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

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

Nebraska Board Of Examiners For Land Surveyors

$25

$25

Nevada

More info
Nevada State Board of Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors

$50

$50

New Hampshire

More info
New Hampshire Board of Professional Engineers

$100 for PE $75 for LS

$100 for PE $75 for LS

New Jersey

More info
New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs - State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Certificate of Authorization Request

$120 for Biennial or $60 for Annual

$120 for Biennial or $60 for Annual

New Mexico

More info
New Mexico Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Surveyors

Not required.

Not required.

New York

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

$125

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

North Carolina

More info
North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers & Surveyors

$100

$75

North Dakota

More info
North Dakota State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors Certificate of Commercial Practice Application

$200

Certificate of Commercial Practice Renwal

$200

Ohio

More info
Ohio Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors Firm Certificate of Authorization

$50

Firm Certificate of Authorization Renewal

$50

Oklahoma

More info
Oklahoma Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Application for Certificate of Authorization

$200 for domestic $250 for foreign

Application for Certificate of Authorization Renewal

$200 for domestic $250 for foreign

Oregon

More info
Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying

Not required.

Not required.

Pennsylvania

More info
Pennsylvania Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists

$25

Not required.

Rhode Island

More info
Rhode Island Division of Design Professionals PE Certificate of Authorization (COA)

$150

LS Certificate of Authorization (COA)

$100

PE Certificate of Authorization (COA)

$50

LS Certificate of Authorization (COA)

$100

South Carolina

More info
South Carolina Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors

$115

$75

South Dakota

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

$100

$80

Tennessee

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

$0

Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance: Tennessee Board of Examiners for Land Surveyors

$0

Texas

More info
Texas Board of Professional Engineers

$150

$150

Texas Board of Professional Land Surveying

$32.11

$31

Utah

More info
Utah Department of Commerce - Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing

Not required.

Not required.

Vermont

More info
Vermont Board of Professional Engineering

Not required.

Not required.

Virginia

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

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

$50

Washington

More info
Washington Department of Licensing - Business and Professions Division

$150

$110

West Virginia

More info
West Virginia Board of Registration for Professional Engineers

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

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

West Virginia Board of Professional Surveyors

$100

$100

Wisconsin

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

$75

$82

Wyoming

More info
Wyoming Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

$75

$90

This page was last fact-checked January 6, 2016