Are You Delaying Taking the P.E. Test or Getting Another Certification….Why?

November 18, 2009 at 7:16 am 8 comments

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Certified Professional Career Development Coach
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 This down economy is providing many of us with some down time due to lack of work.  Whether there is some down time at the office or you are currently unemployed.  What are you doing with that down time?  Why not spend it pursuing a license or certification that will add value to your credentials?

I know many engineers that have the work experience required to take the P.E. test, and have even passed part one of the exam (the F.E.), however they just won’t fill out the application and sit for the exam.  People make all kinds of excuses like, the application is difficult, no time to study, I don’t really need the license because my boss signs the plans, etc.  The same goes for other certifications like the LEED AP.  I hear people saying that the LEED exam takes too much memorization and they don’t have time for that.

In the coaching world, we call these excuses “blocks” because they are blocking you from achieving a goal.  There are two kinds of blocks, interior and exterior blocks.  Interior blocks are things like self-doubt and fear.  For example many people won’t sign up for the test for fear of failure.  They think about what would happen if they failed, what would people think, etc.  On the other hand, people may have fear of passing, yes that’s right passing.  They fear additional responsibilities or attention that they would rather avoid.  So how do you overcome these blocks without a coach?  You can do some self-coaching by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is holding me back from taking the next step to achieving this goal?
  • What can I do today to help me overcome that challenge?
  • What would my career look like if I passed the test? 
  • How would it affect my salary, my job standing, my family?
  • What will my career look like in 5 years if I pass the test?  If I don’t pass the test?

Write out the answers and be very descriptive and specific.  Then re-read the answers.  Many times seeing the value of the certification in these terms will help to eliminate these inner blocks.

Exterior blocks would be things like time and money.  To overcome exterior blocks you will most likely have to put an action plan together.  For example if you say you don’t have enough time to study, set up a detailed study schedule.  Maybe you study a half an hour each day before or after work or dedicate lunch a few times a week for studying.  If you establish a plan and stick with it, you will eliminate the exterior blocks.

I hope this article was helpful in moving you closer to your certifications, now go sign up for that test!

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anthony  |  January 6, 2010 at 7:20 am


    Great point, I have heard the same thing about having to have a Masters degree as part of the requirements to sit for the exam in the future.

    I understand that building a business and a good reputation is a lot of work, but I recommend take the tests as soon as you possibly can. Best of luck,


  • 2. Brandon Lee  |  January 5, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Another good reason if you stay an engineer through the down economy is that they will eventually change the P.E. requirements. I kept reading they will slowly make it mandatory to have a Master to sit on the test. I also hear LEED will slowly get harder and harder over time to get.

    Otherwise most people who are engineers can basically do most other jobs, which sadly enough a lot of the smart ones go to other better paying fields and never look back.

    I personally started my own company with two other guys and am concentrating and building up our reputation before I will sit on the tests.

  • 3. Aradhana Sharma  |  December 3, 2009 at 1:07 pm


    I am looking for some good resources for PE Civil exam preparation with Structural afternoon session. Does any one have any comments or recommendations about the following two options?
    1. A course offered by University of Minnesota, Twin Cities called CE 5-Refresher Course for Civil Engineers
    2. ASCE’s live P.E. Civil Exam Review Course on the web

    I would appreciate any comments/reviews about these two options.


  • 4. Anthony Fasano  |  November 18, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Thanks all for your comments! Here is a link that may be helpful based on your comments:

  • 5. Andrea Tonelli  |  November 18, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    I read with interest your article and I would draw on it to ask for some suggestions about how to take the PE exam. I’m a foreign Civil PE and I would like to achieve that goal, but so far it was hard to find clearly (on the NCEES website) what I have to do and I’m a little bit confused…i know this is not a comment to Anthony’s article, but I consider Anthony the right person to motivate people and I’ll follow his invitations “sign up for that test”.

    • 6. Dave  |  November 18, 2009 at 6:09 pm

      Look at your State Professional Engineering Board on the requirements to sit for the PE exam. The requirements vary from state to state. The exam by NCEES is the same for every state, but the requirements to actually sit for the exam are different. Your local board should be able to tell you what you need to do to sit for the exam.

  • 7. Ausberto Beltran  |  November 18, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Yes, the P.E. License is good to have. It will get you in the door sometimes. P.E. is good if you want to have a business.

    You will not become rich, but will get a lot of the liability. When you have to go to court to defend your position on a project, typically the employer will tell you “you are on your own, get a lawyer.”

    You must take it seriously because the State will go after you if a design, which do not have control over or not, fails. When you are presure to sign plans which have never seen before, find a new job. The State does not go after employers that force employees to sign plans, which you never have seen, as a condition of employerment.

  • 8. Rajul Teredesai  |  November 18, 2009 at 9:47 am

    I tell you from my personal experience how important that PE license is (irrespective of the fact if you are actually going to sign something or not). For many companies, hiring a PE is a means of making sure that the person has minimum technical skills required to be a design engineer.
    I appeared for my PE exam despite of bunch of people trying to tell me “why are you in such a hurry?”. Guess what after I got my PE I lost my job. Now, “P.E.” is the most important word on my resume bringing me some interviews.
    This is something that you will know only if you have it. If you don’t have it, you won’t know what are you missing on.


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