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Starting a CA Sole Propietorship business in Mechanical Engineering

DVE (Aeronautics) (OP)
21 Nov 11 13:49

I am holding a master degree (5 years) in Mechanical Engineering from University in Belgium and have gained now 13 years of experience.
I run also my own mechanical design office in Belgium since 7 years now.

My wish is to open a new office in San Francisco Bay Area as a Sole Proprietorship and keep on going to design mechanical components for my costumers.

Since I am a foreigner with no PE, does it mean that there is NO other way to avoid the examination to become a licenced PE ?

Thanks for your inputs.

zdas04 (Mechanical)
21 Nov 11 15:22
Several people on have commented tht in California (like most states) you must have a P.E. to "hold yourself out to the public" as an engineer.  That means that you can't call your sole proprietorship "DVE Engineering" (or anything else with the word "engineer") unless you take the test.

If your work avoids stamping things (like 90% of my practice) then you can probably get by with a title like "DVE Mechanical Design", but that gets hard for new clients to find.

Mechanical Engineering is a really broad discipline and most of it doesn't require a P.E.  Designing a mechanism generally doesn't.  Most fluid mechanics don't.  Most HVAC work doesn't.  Anything dealing with structures does (mostly that work is done by CE's, but I've seen some ME's who do it).  An increasing amount of government work requires a P.E.

If you're careful about your business name, your title on your business card, and the jobs you accept you don't need a P.E.

TheTick (Mechanical)
21 Nov 11 15:43


If you're careful about your business name, your title on your business card, and the jobs you accept you don't need a P.E.

Don't be so sure.  I know WI code is specific about actions and services provided, regardless of company name or title on business card.
MiketheEngineer (Structural)
21 Nov 11 16:10
Get a GOOD lawyer and accountant - then think it through.
zdas04 (Mechanical)
21 Nov 11 21:22
I know a guy in San Francisco who's company is "XYZ Water Consultants", he's an ME without a P.E., his business card says "Owner", and he and I frequently bid on the same jobs.  He says that he is providing "consulting services" and just happens to be an engineer.  He has checked with the CA board and they don't think he's outside the bounds.

Bottom line, read my signature and follow Mike's advice.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering
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IRstuff (Aerospace)
22 Nov 11 2:26
This is what the California PE Act possibly says about exemptions in your case:


6747. Exemption for industries
(a) This chapter, except for those provisions that apply to civil engineers and civil engineering, shall not apply to the performance of engineering work by a manufacturing, mining, public utility, research and development, or other industrial corporation, or by employees of that corporation, provided that work is in connection with, or incidental to, the products, systems, or services of that corporation or its affiliates.
(b) For purposes of this section, "employees" also includes consultants, temporary employees, contract employees, and those persons hired pursuant to third-party contracts.

Like others say, consult a lawyer in this specific field, but my take on it is that designing and building widgets, makes you an industry.  

The PE Act is online at:


FAQ731-376: Forum Policies
Chinese prisoner wins Nobel Peace Prize

moltenmetal (Chemical)
22 Nov 11 7:42
If your customers are actually "costumers" as you say, then the worst that can go wrong is a costume malfunction- I wouldn't worry about a P.E.!

(just kidding- I have no idea what the rules are in California aside from the fact that it's in the United States, arguably the most litigious nation on earth.  Tread with caution and plenty of insurance)
TheTick (Mechanical)
22 Nov 11 12:19
Insurance!  Good luck getting that without a PE.
zdas04 (Mechanical)
22 Nov 11 15:21
You're kidding right?  The insurance agents I know are folks with too little integrity to be used car salesmen. They'll insure a cock fight if you pay high enough premium.

DVE (Aeronautics) (OP)
23 Nov 11 12:24
Thank you All for your inputs.

It summurizes well all my readings on forum and also the PE act.
I have dropped anyway an email to the CA borad to check if my ... widgets will stay within the bound.


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