Updated for the new July 2020 FE Exam Topics

EIT License and Certification: Steps & Requirements

eit certification

In this article, we take a high-level look at what is the engineer-in-training (EIT) certification & license, why you should take care of it now, and what are the actual steps to obtain your EIT certification and license in your state.


What is the EIT license and certification?

The engineer-in-training (EIT) certification & license is a professional designation given by state governments to those who have successfully passed the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, sometimes referred to as the EIT exam. An EIT certification doesn’t grant you any special legal privileges; it simply indicates to employers and peers that you’ve passed the FE exam and that you are halfway done in your journey to become a fully licensed professional engineer (PE), which is the ultimate goal.

Engineer-in-training (EIT) certification is an intermediate and required step to the ultimate goal, that is to become a licensed professional engineer (PE).



Why get your EIT certification now?

In order to get your engineering certification (EIT), you must pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. In summary, the FE exam is a ~5.5-hour-long multiple-choice exam that covers the majority of the courses seen in a 4-year engineering program. The test has a ~70% pass rate for first time takers.

In other words, you must pass the FE exam to get your EIT certification. The FE exam is comprehensive and difficult. And the exam becomes significantly more difficult the longer you’ve been out of college as you quickly start forgetting what you learned in school as time goes by.



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It is highly recommended you take care of the FE exam now rather than later. You should get your EIT certification now, so you can become a professional engineer (PE) a few years down the road or at least have the option to. Prolonging when to take the FE exam will only make things more difficult later down the road as the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to pass the 5.5-hour long engineering exam.


The point of getting your EIT certification now, as opposed to later, is that by taking the FE exam now you will be more likely to pass the FE exam than if you took it later in your career. You will be taking advantage that what you learned in college still hasn't been completely forgotten yet. You never know where your career might take you and you don’t want to end up in a position where it’s been 10+ years since the last time you opened an engineering textbook but now you need to study for a 5.5-hour long engineering exam.


Steps and requirements to get your engineering certification:

Below are the general steps to become an engineer-in-training. Ultimately, every state has its own requirements to become an EIT but the steps shown below are what is most common

  1. Be a college senior or a graduate of a 4-year ABET-accredited engineering program.
  2. A handful of states require you to submit an application prior to authorizing you to take the FE exam. You can check if you’re in one of those states. If the NCEES website tells you your state “does not require examinees to submit an application or an additional fee prior to registering with NCEES and scheduling an exam”, that means you can sign up to take the FE exam without submitting any paperwork to your state government. If your state does require a separate application prior to taking the FE exam, follow the instructions given on that NCEES page for your state.
  3. Register with NCEES to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.
  4. Schedule the FE exam through the NCEES-Pearson website. The FE exam is offered Monday-Friday and some Saturdays, every week, all year long at Pearson test center locations throughout the country.
  5. Study for the FE exam.
  6. Learn how the FE exam works before you take it.
  7. Pass the FE exam.
  8. Provide proof to your state government that you’ve passed the FE exam and submit the application to get your EIT certificate in the mail.


Frequently asked questions about EIT certification:

How can I become eligible to take the FE exam (and therefore get my EIT certification) if I went to college outside of the United States?

In order to take the FE exam, you must have attended an ABET-accredited engineering program. There are three ways to be eligible to take the FE exam if you attended college outside of the United States.

  1. Your foreign university happens to be accredited by ABET (not common). You can check here if your foreign engineering program was ABET-accredited while you attended.
  2. Request to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) to evaluate your foreign engineering degree and allow you to take the FE exam.
  3. You get a masters or phd in engineering from an ABET-accredited American university. Once you obtain a masters or phd in engineering from an American ABET-accredited university, you will be eligible to take the FE exam regardless where you obtained your bachelor’s degree from. A large percentage of graduate students in the United States obtained their bachelors from universities outside of the United States and then obtained their masters or phd’s from American universities. There are also some professional and financial advantages to having a graduate degree over just a bachelor's degree.


What is the best way to prepare for the FE exam, so I can become an EIT?

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What happens after I pass the FE exam?

You submit the paperwork to your state government proving to them that you passed the FE exam, so they can mail you your EIT certificate.

In professional work emails and documents, it is common for people with EIT certifications to add the initials “EIT” after their names e.g. Kayla Smith, EIT.

As mentioned previously, the ultimate reason to bother getting your EIT certification is so you can become eligible to take the PE exam. Once you pass the PE exam, you can file more paperwork with your state government to become a professional engineer (PE). A professional engineer (PE) is the final step in engineering licensure. PE’s have the legal right to stamp and sign engineering documents and drawings that go out to the public.


Will I get paid more if I get my EIT certification - license?

Recall getting your EIT certification is merely a required, intermediate step before becoming eligible to take the PE exam. Will getting your EIT certification help you get a raise? It depends.

If you are a civil engineer, it is often expected of you to have your EIT certification from the moment you start your career in civil engineering. It is likely your employer will hold off any promotions solely because you are not an EIT yet. This is especially true if you work for a designer consultant or a government agency. If you work for a contractor, the importance of your EIT certification for your current job is a case-by-case basis. However, you will need your EIT certification if you ever decide to go from construction to engineering design or government.

In the case of civils, your EIT certification will result in more money in the sense that you will not be held back in the corporate ladder because you don’t have your EIT certification just yet. On the other hand, it is standard practice to get an immediate $2,000 - $5,000 per year raise immediately after obtaining your professional engineering (PE) license. And to eventually get your PE, you must have had your EIT. Additionally, it is often a requirement in the civil engineering world to have a PE license in order to move up to management positions, which tend to pay $10K-$20K more per year than project engineer or junior engineer positions.

If you are a mechanical, electrical, chemical engineer, or etc… the value of the EIT certification depends on who is your employer or who could be your employer in the future. Unlike civils, other engineering disciplines aren’t expected to have their EIT certifications from their first day of their engineering careers. Obtaining your engineering certification will likely impress your boss and possibly result in you getting to your next promotion a bit faster than you normally would have. The Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) estimates mechanical engineers with a PE license, and by the default EIT certification, make $16,000 more per year than those who don’t have their PE license. The whole reason to bother getting your EIT certification now is so you have the option to get your PE license later down the road. You are really just thinking ahead and getting the FE exam over with.


If I pass the FE exam in one state and move to a different state, do I need to retake the exam in the new state?

You don’t need to retake the FE exam if you move to a different state than the one where you took the FE exam and got your certification from. Your EIT jurisdiction, unlike PE jurisdiction, is valid in any state.