When You Should Add PE After Your Name

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RBHeadge PE

Nucflash
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At some point soon many of you will find out that you passed the PPE exam. Congratulations! Passing the PPE is a major accomplishment that takes 8+ years of work and sacrifice. I'm certain you'll be excited; you should celebrate!

But first I need to tell you:

DO NOT IMMEDIATELY ADD PE AFTER YOUR NAME!

Wait until you are actually licensed.


I am not trolling! I am not trying to take away your accomplishments! I am not trying to kill your buzz! I want to keep you out of trouble.

Just because you passed the PPE exam does not mean that you are a professional engineer*. Only someone with a current PE license is a professional engineer and can use the postnominal “PE”. **

Every jurisdiction has laws and/or regulations governing who may offer their engineering services to the public. To claim that you are a professional engineer, when you lack a license is false representation. There are civil penalties associated with claiming to be a PE without a license, and it may prevent you from getting licensed in the future! The rules and enforcement vary from state to state. But it’s better to just wait until you officially have a license.

So how long do you need to wait? It varies by state, and it can range from hours to months to officially get your license. It could be longer if you took the test before satisfying the experience requirement, but you probably knew that already.

When is it official? It varies from state to state. But the consensus is that you are official when you find yourself in the state engineer license lookup with a current license. You will certainly be listed there before they send you an email or mailed envelope.

Once it’s official, go ahead and add those letters after your name!

What do I tell my boss, clients, colleagues in a big meeting, proposal, C.V., etc? You have to be ethical about this. You still can’t claim to be a PE until you are licensed, and you can’t imply that you can stamp things right now either. The easy and safe thing is to say that you passed the PPE (or PE exam), but are awaiting license from the state. Other PE’s will know that the hardest part is over, you’re basically in the club, but it’s just a formality of getting through the bureaucracy. However the subtlety may be lost on others, like clients and non-engineer bosses, so don’t leave people with the impression that you can stamp something currently in that jurisdiction.

One other note about adding PE after your name. The physical address in your signature, business cards, etc should match where you are licensed to practice. This goes back to falsely representing yourself. If your business card says, for example, DC, but you are licensed only in Virginia, then you are falsely representing yourself as a licensed engineer in DC. If that same business card adds that you are only licensed in Virginia, then you are not falsely representing yourself. Of course if you have a license in both jurisdictions, then you are not falsely representing yourself. The same principle applies when trying to get business outside the state/jurisdiction of the license; you have to make it clear where you are actually licensed.Engineers get in trouble for this sort of thing all the time. So be careful. The NSPE website has dozens of ethics case studies on this sort of thing available for reading.

tl;dr wait until you actually have a PE license before adding PE after your name
 

MeowMeow PE

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One other note about adding PE after your name. The physical address in your signature, business cards, etc should match where you are licensed to practice. This goes back to falsely representing yourself. If your business card says, for example, DC, but you are licensed only in Virginia, then you are falsely representing yourself as a licensed engineer in DC. If that same business card adds that you are only licensed in Virginia, then you are not falsely representing yourself.
Sooooo my address is in Missouri, but my license is for Kansas. I am in KCMO...My company is just a few miles from the state line. I do a lot of projects in MO, but I'd say more than half are in KS. (I'll never really ever have to stamp anything while working for my company though - thankfully haha). I took the test in KS because Topeka is closer than Jeff City. I have several coworkers in the same boat. I'll have to see how they handle this....
Really, I'm mostly saying all this, because people who live in KCMO are compelled to SAY we live in Kansas City MISSOURI. lol WE MUST MAKE EVERYONE KNOW. WE DON'T LIVE ON THE KANSAS SIDE OK.
 

FBPE Rep

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At some point soon many of you will find out that you passed the PPE exam. Congratulations! Passing the PPE is a major accomplishment that takes 8+ years of work and sacrifice. I'm certain you'll be excited; you should celebrate!

But first I need to tell you:

DO NOT IMMEDIATELY ADD PE AFTER YOUR NAME!

Wait until you are actually licensed.


...

tl;dr wait until you actually have a PE license before adding PE after your name

This is excellent advice from RBHeadge PE. I want to add that at least in Florida, it doesn't end with PE or Professional Engineer.

To expand on this a bit more: In Florida, state statute (or law) prevents anyone who doesn't hold a Florida PE license from using the title of Professional Engineer, PE, or also a list of other engineer-related titles. In short, you can call yourself an engineer, but not a Professional Engineer, PE, or a specific type of engineer, such as civil engineer or mechanical engineer. These are called "restricted titles."

Chapter 471.031(1)(b)1., Florida Statutes, prohibits anyone who does not hold a Florida PE license from using "the name or title 'professional engineer' or any other title, designation, words, letters, abbreviations, or device tending to indicate that such person holds an active license as an engineer when the person is not licensed under this chapter, including, but not limited to, the following titles: 'agricultural engineer,' 'air-conditioning engineer,' 'architectural engineer,' 'building engineer,' 'chemical engineer,' 'civil engineer,' 'control systems engineer,' 'electrical engineer,' 'environmental engineer,' 'fire protection engineer,' 'industrial engineer,' 'manufacturing engineer,' 'mechanical engineer,' 'metallurgical engineer,' 'mining engineer,' 'minerals engineer,' 'marine engineer,' 'nuclear engineer,' 'petroleum engineer,' 'plumbing engineer,' 'structural engineer,' 'transportation engineer,' 'software engineer,' 'computer hardware engineer,' or 'systems engineer.' "

Again, this applies only to Florida. Other states may have similar restricted titles laws, too. (It's always better to ask beforehand, than to risk getting into trouble early in your career.)

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to FBPE. We're always happy to assist you.
 

steel

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Sooooo my address is in Missouri, but my license is for Kansas. I am in KCMO...My company is just a few miles from the state line. I do a lot of projects in MO, but I'd say more than half are in KS. (I'll never really ever have to stamp anything while working for my company though - thankfully haha). I took the test in KS because Topeka is closer than Jeff City. I have several coworkers in the same boat. I'll have to see how they handle this....
Really, I'm mostly saying all this, because people who live in KCMO are compelled to SAY we live in Kansas City MISSOURI. lol WE MUST MAKE EVERYONE KNOW. WE DON'T LIVE ON THE KANSAS SIDE OK.
Do you have a business card with your office address? If so, I would add PE (Kansas) to it.

Or, see about getting a license by reciprocity in Missouri. Both require 30 PDH's every other year, so holding both licenses shouldn't be too burdensome.
 
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