Anyone who wishes to become licensed as a Professional Engineer (PE) in the United States must take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam as one of the first steps in the licensure process. FE exam registration is more complicated than simply signing up to take a test; registration requirements vary by state, but there are certain minimum qualifications anyone who takes the exam must meet, such as studying at or having a degree from a properly accredited university. Most students are required to submit an application to their state licensing board for approval to register, but some states waive this requirement. Registration itself occurs online through the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying website.
The process of qualifying for FE exam registration begins long before someone can actually take it. To become a licensed professional engineer, a person generally must earn a degree from an engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The first step to qualifying for the FE exam, therefore, is enrolling in an ABET-accredited bachelor's degree program. A person can take the FE exam after they have successfully completed about three years in such a program.
Some non-engineering degrees may qualify someone to apply for the FE exam as well. A four-year degree in engineering technology from an ABET-accredited program or an engineering or science degree that meets certain minimum requirements will usually qualify. Any degree that qualifies a person to take the FE exam must have a minimum amount of course work in mathematics and in engineering science, such as mechanical and electrical engineering courses.
The FE exam is usually taken during a student's last year of undergraduate study, though it may also be taken by graduate students and people who already hold an engineering degree. Many states require that students be within two semesters of graduating with a bachelor's degree to take the exam. An applicant must submit an application form to their state licensing board in most states. A person can register for the FE exam only after receiving approval from their board. Some states do not require an application for FE exam registration as long as the exam taker is an enrolled student or already holds a qualifying degree.
FE exam registration is handled online through the website of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), which also develops the exam. Once a person has received permission to register or has met the minimum requirements, they can go to the NCEES website and complete the registration process and pay the exam fee. The FE exam is administered in April and October each year. Registration deadlines are mid-February for the April exam and mid-July for the October exam. In states where applicants must apply to take the exam, the application deadline is usually about a month before the registration deadline.