NCEES Record Simplifies Reciprocity for PE License
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If you’re a professional engineer working in more than one state, you will need an engineering license in the other states before you can provide engineering services. Having a license in one state does not allow you to practice engineering in other states. Most states offer licensing to PE’s through various processes such as reciprocity, comity, or endorsement.
Each application process is different, consisting of state-specific forms and supporting documentation. Administrative mistakes or deficiencies can result in delays or even denial of your application.
This article presents a summary of all state engineering board licensing requirements for engineers who are seeking a license in another state. It includes lessons learned from my recent journey to obtain three engineering licenses and maps out a strategy to avoid delays or being denied registration.
My Experience with Reciprocity
I obtained my professional engineer registration 12 years ago, and the process was slow and painful. It took months to verify my employment history, obtain transcripts from my alma mater, and ask colleagues to provide character references. The entire process took more than 4 months and countless hours chasing down loose ends. It was easier to earn my undergraduate degree than it was to complete the application process.
Several years later, I was promoted to a position that required me to be licensed in three other states. Despite my elation over my new job, I was dreading having to go through the application process three more times.
To make things easier this time around, I got organized and approached this task in a logical manner, as any engineer would do. I identified the documentation required by each state, the required forms, the fees, and the process.
I quickly learned that there are no national standards for engineering licensing. Every state has its own process with varying requirements. I found that the NCEES Record is the most convenient way to get another engineering license. They take the
Engineering Licensing Requirements
All 50 states, including the District of Columbia, require licensing before a professional can practice engineering or offer to provide engineering services. State engineering boards were created by the various legislatures and tasked with managing registration for engineers. Although each state engineering board has its own requirements, registration among the various states has many similarities. The basic prerequisites for becoming licensed as a professional engineer in the US are:
Education. Most states require a four-year engineering degree from a college or university that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Examinations. Each state requires applicants to pass two written exams. The first is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination that assesses the candidate’s understanding of basic engineering principles. The second exam is the Principles and Practice in Engineering (PE) test which evaluates their skills and knowledge of their engineering discipline.
Experience. Every state requires a minimum amount of work experience under the mentorship and supervision of a professional engineer before a license is granted. Most states require a minimum of four years.
State-Specific Requirements and Allowances.
Each state has its own licensing requirements for engineers. These differences can make licensing in more than one state difficult to manage. The following examples highlight some of the challenges engineers face.
ABET Waiver. A few state engineering boards will waive the ABET-accredited degree if the licensee can prove that their degree meets the requirements established by ABET. This is most commonly done for engineers who have degrees from foreign universities.
Experience in Lieu of Education. Some states will issue engineering licenses to professionals who do not have an engineering degree if they have significant engineering experience. This type of exemption makes becoming licensing in other states very difficult. In some cases, a candidate will not be allowed to become licensed if they do not have an engineering degree.
Additional Requirements: Other state-specific requirements that are less commonly found include the following:
- A minimum period of state residency
- References from licensed engineers
- Minimum period of internship and/or training
- Work experience beyond 4 years
- Additional examination (e.g. California requires civil engineers to pass the Engineering Surveying and Seismic Principles exam)
Comity Versus Reciprocity
Many states allow an engineer licensed in another state to become registered through a process called comity or endorsement. Some grant licenses through reciprocity. Many people use these terms interchangeably. Each of these terms relate to the process of obtaining an engineering license in another state. However, they do not mean the same thing.
Comity is not automatic. You must meet all of the state board’s requirements before you become licensed.This usually involves submitting an application that lists your education, work experience, examination scores, and references. The board will verify the information, and issue a license if they are satisfied with the applicant’s credentials. It is analogous to a “mini” application.
Reciprocity, in contrast, means that another state will automatically issue an engineering license based on having a license in another state. States do not typically grant a license by reciprocity.
NCEES Council Record
The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) is a non-profit organization focused on professional licensing for engineers and surveyors. They administer the national engineering examinations and develop standards for state engineering boards. One valuable service provided by NCEES is the NCEES Records program.
The Records program was developed for engineers who must be licensed in more than one state. It makes registering in more thane one state faster and easier than applying one state at a time. By creating an NCEES Record, you assemble most of the documentation required (e.g. transcripts, exam scores, employment verification, references) for comity licensure in additional states and territories.
Get the NCEES Record. You need to get a NCEES Record. Most states now require it, and almost every state accepts all or some of the documentation it contains. It will save you countless hours in completing the application and cut weeks off the state board review process. This should be the first thing you do.
Getting a record is as time consuming as applying for your initial PE registration. If you don’t need multiple licenses or you only work in two states, it may not be worth the time and effort it takes to comply with the NCEES requirements. However, having an NCEEs record will make applying for a new state license very simple and, more importantly, very quick.
If you are a new PE, get a NCEES Record. This is the best time to do it. You have all of the information at your fingertips. You’ve been in contact with your employers and your references. You will thank yourself later when you need to obtain another license.
What is an NCEES Record and How Do You Get One
NCEES polled every state engineering board and came up with the entire list of requirements to comply with each application. When you complete their process, you will have provided everything to NCEES that all 50 state boards will ask you for. They verify you have an ABET accredited degree by asking for you college transcripts and verification from your alma mater that you graduated. They require five PEs to provide letters of recommendation for you. It is an exhaustive process, and it takes a lot of time to complete, but once it’s done you don’t have to do it again.
The Value of the NCEES Record
Once you have an NCEES record, you don’t have to go through the full application process with a new state engineering board. Most state boards will accept your NCEES record and only require you to complete a 1-page application to apply through reciprocity.
How Does the NCEES Record Work
Once your Record is complete, you can have NCEES submit the information to the engineering board in the state you are seeking registration. Every time your Record is transmitted to a state board, a fee is charged.
- First transmittal—$175
- All subsequent transmittals—$75 each
Model Law Designation
When you apply for a NCEES Record, your credentials are also checked against the Model Law Engineer (MLE) criteria. This designation indicates that your education, work experience, and test results meet the Model Law requirements, which often expedites review and approval by the state engineering board.
Temporary Engineering License
Several states issue temporary licenses to professional engineers who are licensed in other states that allow them to perform engineering services. These interim licenses are designed for engineers and engineering firms that need to work on a single project. As a result, these licenses are valid for a limited period of time and generally limit the licensee to working on a single project. A temporary engineering license can usually be issued in less time than it takes to apply for registration through comity.
Does Your State Accept the NCEES Record –
State by State Reciprocity Information for Engineers
You can apply for a license in more than one state. Submit your form to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). (800) 250-3196.
As long as you hold a license in professional engineering or land surveying in any other state or country – given that your qualification meets the Alabama statutes’ requirements – the Board will award you a license. You may also receive an interim permit, provided that you hold a professional qualification awarded in another state and your license has not been invalidated or revoked. Alabama Code 34-11-4. Alabama Administrative Code r. 330-X-12-01.
You may be registered as a professional engineer in the state of Alaska if you hold a professional registration license in another state or territory of the United States, District of Columbia or another country. You may obtain this registration upon application, provided that your qualifications meet the requirements of the Alaska Administrative Code and said qualification can be verified by the Board. Alaska Administrative Code 08.48.191.
Registering as a professional engineer in the State of Arizona with a valid qualification from another state or jurisdiction is available without completing further examinations, if the applicant’s certificate meets the stature’s requirements for registration and have been practicing as a licensed engineer for 10 years or more. Arizona Revised Statutes 32-126.
Professional engineers who obtained their qualification and registration from a state, territory, possession of the US or foreign country may apply for an engineering license in the State of Arkansas without additional examination at the Board’s discretion. This is applicable to qualified engineers, engineers still in training or interns as long as they are registered as such in their original training or practice location and their qualifications meet the meet the professional standards of the chapter. Arkansas Code Annotated 17-30-302.
Professional engineers holding qualification and registration meeting the California state laws and regulations may obtain a registration in the State of California. For single projects, a temporary registration of up to 120 days can be obtained. Structural engineers must also meet additional evaluation requirements.
Colorado offers comity to be granted to engineers qualified and licensed in another state or country given that said qualifications meet Colorado state law requirements of equivalent level. There is no temporary licensing available in the State of Colorado for temporary projects. Colorado Revised Statutes 12-25-114.
Professional engineers or land surveyors are granted reciprocal license by the Board provided that they have a registration or licenses that meets the Connecticut registration requirements. Connecticut General Statutes 20-304.
The Council may offer a registration for a professional engineer who obtained their qualification and registration of equivalent standard from another state or territory. Registration is also permitted for engineers certified by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Temporary licensing is available for a period of up to one year. 24 Delaware Code 2817.
District of Columbia
In the District of Columbia, professional engineers are eligible for an engineering license registration if they hold an equivalent standard registration from another jurisdiction. This is also available to engineers certified by the NCEES. D.C. Code Annotated 2-2308.
The State of Florida refers to reciprocal licenses as “license by endorsement”. Qualified or registered professional engineers may apply for a license by endorsement as long as their registration in another state or territory meets the licensing criteria set by the State of Florida at the time of issue. Florida Statutes 471.015.
Reciprocity is available for engineers qualified and registered in any state or territory, or certified by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying if that qualification is not lower than required for registration in Georgia and has no conflict with the state requirements, or the certificate was issued before July 1956. Official Code of Georgia Annotated 43-15-16, 21.
Registration in the State of Hawaii can be obtained by a registered professional engineer who holds a valid certificate of registration obtained from another state or country. The original registration requirements must be in line with the Board requirements at the time of registration. Hawaii Revised Statutes 464.
Reciprocity may be obtained in the State of Idaho by a professional engineer who holds a valid qualification that is equivalent to that required by Idaho at the time of registration. The state recognizes engineers qualified in another state or territory under the condition that said state also recognizes equivalent qualifications for registration obtained by professional engineers in Idaho. Idaho Code 54-1219.
Professional engineering license may be obtained in Illinois, at the Board’s recommendation, by those qualified in another jurisdiction (state or territory of the United States and the District of Columbia) or awarded by a party to the North American Free Trade Agreement if the registrant qualifies under Section 10 of this Act. The licensee may also be granted registration provided that the qualification obtained for registration, at the time of registration, was equivalent of what was required at the time by Illinois. Registration may be refused by the Department if the above conditions are not met. 225 Illinois Compiled Statutes 325/19 (from Ch. 111, par. 5219).
In the State of Indiana, qualifications and experience obtained, as required for registration by the licensee’s home state, must the same as is required in Indiana. NCEES certificates are accepted. Indiana Code 25-31-1.
Reciprocity for professional engineers wishing to register in the State of Iowa is available based on their original qualification being in an active status and that these meet the requirement for registration in their home state. The registration requirements must be equivalent or more rigorous than those in Iowa. Iowa Administrative Code r. 193C.
Licensees who are registered in another state by their professional authority may obtain registered status in Kansas without further examination, decided by the Board on a case-by-case basis. NCEES or NBER certifications may also be accepted. Kansas Statutes Annotated 74-7024.
Based on qualifications and registration requirements being equivalent to those required by the Board in Kentucky, professional engineers holding a license awarded by another state may register in the state by comity. Kentucky Revised Statutes Annotated 322.120.
Licensees may register in Louisiana provided that their registration requirements at the time of registration in their home state or territory were of equivalent level to those in Louisiana at the time and are not in conflict with state law. Louisiana Revised Statutes Annotated 37:694.
Professional engineers whose qualifications meet Maine’s registration requirements may be registered in the state, by providing evidence of their professional license obtained in any jurisdiction (domestic or foreign) without additional examination. Licensees must prove that they have completed a graduate level engineering program (including at least 16 hours of written examinations) that is approved by the Board of their jurisdiction for registration and have at least four years of professional experience as a licensed engineer. Maine Revised Statutes 32-1352-A.
Limited license may be obtained in Maryland by a registrant licensed in another state to carry out work pertaining to a specific engineering task. The state can also remove the requirement of examination for licensees from another jurisdiction if their registration requirements meet that of the State of Maryland. Maryland Code Annotated 14-311.
Massachusetts offers registration by comity to licensed professional engineers who obtained their registration in another state or country without further examination provided that the Board approves said qualifications as equivalent to those accepted in Massachusetts. NCEES certificates, updated in the last five years may also be accepted for registration. Massachusetts General Laws c 112 – 81J.
Registrants holding a license in professional engineering, obtained in another state, with qualifications equivalent to registration requirements in Michigan may obtain a license in the state. Michigan also accepts valid NCEES certification. Michigan Comp. Laws 339.2013, 16025.
Professional engineers licensed by another state, territory or country may obtain their registration in Minnesota. The qualification accepted must be approved by the Minnesota Board as equivalent to those awarded in the state. National Examination Council certification may also be accepted for registration. Minnesota Statutes 326.10.
Persons holding an NCEES certification, or those registered in another state or territory as a professional engineer may be issued a professional registration by Mississippi. The registration requirements in their home state must meet all statutory requirements of state law. Mississippi Code Annotated 72-13-35.
Registration by comity can be granted to professional engineers whose qualifications and registration, awarded by another state, territory or possession on the United States, or by another country, are deemed by the Board to equal to those set by Missouri at the time of registration. Missouri Revised Statutes 327.381.
Registrants holding a professional engineering license, from another jurisdiction that is equal to the requirements set by the State of Montana, or an NCEES certificate may obtain a registration. Montana Code Annotated 37-67-303, 312.
Professional engineers holding a registration certificate from another state can register in Nebraska without further examination, provided that their qualification and registration is equivalent to the requirements set by the state for professional registration and are not in conflict with state law. Nebraska Revised Statutes 81-3451.
Registrants may obtain a Nevada license by comity. Applicants must hold a certificate awarded by another state, territory or possession of the United States, or by another country that meets the Board’s registration requirement of a qualification equivalent Nevada’s and must not conflict with Nevada law. Nevada Revised Statutes 625.220.
Temporary license may be granted by the New Hampshire board to engineers registered in another state, where that state’s registration requirements are equal to or more stringent than New Hampshire’s. Those holding a NCEES certificate may also apply. New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated 310-A-19.
Professional engineers may apply for registration to the New Jersey Board provided that their qualification, issued by another state or country is comparable to the registration requirements of the State of New Jersey. New Jersey Statutes Annotated 45:8-35.
Registration by endorsement is available in New Mexico to registrants of another state or the District of Columbia if the standard of the original registration is equivalent or more rigorous than those set by the Board in New Mexico and does not conflict with New Mexico law. New Mexico Statutes Annotated 61-23-14.1.
Limited permits may be issued to professional engineers qualified and registered in another jurisdiction. These permits are offered for a specific time period, as approved by the Education Department to allow nonresident registrants to perform engineering services in the State of New York. Such registration by comity may be granted by the Board, who may also, to those who are registered and established engineers with more than 15 years of professional experience, waive specific requirements. New York Education Law 7200-7209.
Registration by reciprocity may be obtained by professional engineers registered in another jurisdiction who hold an equivalent registration or certified by NCEES. North Carolina General Statutes 89C-13.
Professional engineers, qualified and registered in another state or country, holding a registration certificate comparable to that required by the North Dakota Board, or a certificate of qualification from the National Bureau of Engineering Registration may obtain a registration in North Dakota. North Dakota Cent. Code 43-19.1.
Professional engineers qualified and registered by another state may apply to be registered in Ohio if their state requirements for registration are equal or more stringent than those set by Ohio. Applicants must pass a four-hour examination about the laws and practices specific to engineering practices in Ohio. Ohio Administrative Code 4733-13-01.
Registrants holding professional engineering certification from another jurisdiction may apply to register by comity in Oklahoma without further examination. The registration requirements include a qualification and registration from their jurisdiction that is not in conflict with, and at least equal to Oklahoma’s, proof of good standing in their profession and five character-references. Oklahoma Statutes 59, 475.12&15.
If an individual, firm, partnership or corporation holds a professional engineering or land surveying registration issued by a proper authority from a jurisdiction (domestic or foreign), Oregon registration requirements do not apply. Applicants must submit a statement in writing confirming that they are not certified to practice in the State of Oregon and that a person holding a valid registration in the State of Oregon is in charge of the work, prior to performing any engineering or land surveying, in compliance with ORS 672.002 to 672.325. Oregon Revised Statutes 672.060(9).
Registration in comity or endorsement, for both temporary and permanent licensing, is available to any person holding a valid professional engineering license from another state, provided that their state registration requirements are equal to that of Pennsylvania’s and that their state offers registration in comity to Pennsylvania registered professional engineers. 63 Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated 149.
Professional engineers registered in another state, territory or possession of the United States, or any other country will be recognized and registered in Rhode Island if their registration meets the Rhode Island requirements to hold a professional license. Individuals holding a valid certificate from the NCEES are also accepted. NCEES certificates are also accepted. Rhode Island General Laws 5-8-11.
Registrants holding a professional certificate from any jurisdiction, both domestic and foreign, will be considered for registration by comity if their qualifications are comparable to those accepted in South Carolina. The Board may require applicants to complete an examination that is designed to establish that their qualification meets state requirements. South Carolina Code Annotated 40-22-230.
Professional engineers may be given consideration by the South Dakota Board to register by comity. The licensee must hold a valid and active registration, issued by another state, territory or possession or another country, that do not conflict with the provisions of the chapter and is equal to or more stringent that the South Dakota registration requirements at the time the registration was issued. Registrants’ competency may be reviewed in the form of an examination should the Board deem it necessary. South Dakota Codified Laws 36-18A-35.
Licensees registered in another state, territory or country may be issued a certificate in Tennessee if the Board deems their qualification meets Tennessee registration requirements. Tennessee Code Annotated 62-2-304.
Certification may be granted to applicants registered in another state, territory or possession, in the District of Columbia or another country who are in good standing in their state of practice. The Boards accepts registrants with qualifications and professional engineering experience meeting Texas requirements for registration at the time the registration was issued. 22 Texas Administrative Code 131.55 (West 1977).
Utah may grant registration to any professional engineer licensed in another US jurisdiction. Applicants must submit evidence of their registration and good standing and complete and pass an examination. Applicants will be considered if they have practiced full time as a professional engineer for at least five of the previous seven years at the time of making the application. Utah Code Annotated 58-22-302.
Reciprocity registration if offered to engineers licensed in another state or country without further examination. The registrant must hold a license issued by another jurisdiction whose requirements are substantially equivalent to those of Vermont. Vermont Statutes 1182(f).
Virginia may offer registration to professional engineers licensed in another state, territory or possession of the United States, Canada or the District of Columbia if the requirements for registration in said jurisdiction are equal to Virginia’s and do not conflict with state law. Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Landscape Architects Rules and Regulations 4.12.
Registrants holding certification from another state may be issued with a registration in Washington, if the licensee is in good standing in their state and the registration requirements in their state meet those of Washington’s. Revised Code of Washington 18.43.100.
Persons holding an NCEES certification, or registration as a professional engineer, awarded by another state, the District of Columbia or by another country may obtain registration in West Virginia without further examination. West Virginia Code 30-13-13.
Registration in Wisconsin may be awarded by the Board to any person holding a valid professional registration from another state, territory or possession or by another nation. The licensee must make an application and pay the registration fee. The Board will grant a registration provided that the registration requirements in the applicant’s state meet those set by the State of Wisconsin. Persons holding a certification from the NCEES may also be considered. Wisconsin Statutes 443-10.
Professional engineers may obtain a registration in reciprocity in Wyoming provided that the registration requirements in their state are equal to those in the State of Wyoming. Wyoming Statutes 33-29-130.
* Please note that the above summary is not inclusive of all state requirements for reciprocity.