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Engineer vs Professional Engineer: What’s the Difference?

By January 18, 2019No Comments3 min read

In the engineering field, there are three levels of status that an engineer can obtain: Engineer, Engineer-In-Training (EIT), and licensed Professional Engineer (PE).


Upon graduating from an accredited engineering program and finding employment in the field, someone may be given the job title of associate engineer or junior engineer, depending on the company.

Engineer In Training (EIT)

After gaining some experience, that person may choose to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).  Upon passing this examination and / or meeting other requirements, they become an Engineer in Training, or EIT.  (Some states refer to this level as Engineer Intern, or EI.)  EITs work under the direct supervision of a licensed Professional Engineer.

Licensed Professional Engineer (PE)

After accumulating an amount of engineering experience as an EIT, four years in most states, and meeting other requirements, the engineer is eligible to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam specific to their discipline.  When this exam is passed, the EIT becomes a licensed Professional Engineer (PE).  Some states also have additional certification for structural engineers. 

PE licensing is state-specific.  Many engineers hold licenses in multiple states.  PE licenses must be renewed after a timeframe set forth by each state, and engineers must maintain a certain number of hours of relevant continuing education each licensing period.  Certain situations can cause a PE to lose their engineering license, such as a conviction for certain crimes.

Why Is It Important To Have A Licensed PE Working On Your Project? 

First, they will likely be among the most experienced, knowledgeable engineers.  PEs can administer their stamp or seal to reports, plans, drawings, and calculations, sometimes a legal or safety requirement for the project. Litigation proceedings sometimes call for the testimony of an expert witness, someone highly skilled and experienced in their field. 

Professional Engineers are also bound to a code of ethics, and expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity. The fundamental canons of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Code of Ethics for Engineers include holding paramount the safety, welfare and health of the public, performing services only in areas of their competence, and to conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully.  Utilizing a PE for your project ensures credibility, dependability, and competence.

Encorus Group has ten Professional Engineers across a variety of disciplines, and who are licensed in multiple states. In addition, we have several engineers and EITs who are highly experienced in their field.  Contact our Director of Design, Thomas R. Gilmartin, PE, at 716.592.3980, ext. 124 or for help finding better solutions to your toughest problems.