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PE vs new 2-day SE

PE vs new 2-day SE

PE vs new 2-day SE

(OP)
Advice please.

I'm starting year 4 of my 4 years toward being able to sit for my PE exam. I've spent those 3 years, most of my schooling, and my internships doing 90% structural engineering. I'm comfortable doing site work, fan engineering, hydrology, and so on but it's not what I want to do.

I figured I'd get my head in the game as to what I have left to do and make sure I'm all ready when test time comes. I'm early but I like to be prepared. I got almost 100% when I went to take my private pilots exam and I was super comfortable for my FE so it seems to work for me.

Now, my question is should I sit for the new 2-day SE test or just take the normal PE test? I'm thinking the new 2-day SE is the way to go for me. I work in Maine right now under a PE but am 90% sure that I will not remain in this state (or possibly even the country). The way I see it is:

Pros for the new 2-day SE:
-Will get me a PE in most states.
-Will get me a SE in most states.
-Will make it easy to get a PE or SE in the states that I didn't get one in.
-Will be a nice feather in my cap. Might make up for that moderate 3.15 GPA I had in college for my resume.
-Will help focus my career more on the things I want to do.
-Will probably not be that much harder for me to take and study for as I will only have structures and no general civil. Heck, it might be even easier (and will probably be easier to study for).
-Reading about recent test takers, they found it not terribly difficult.
-If I fail one section but pass another I only have to retake one section.

Cons for the new 2-day test:
-Costs more...a lot more! (I'm assuming I'll spent about $1,000 on the SE where I'd spend something like $300 on the PE).
-Longer test (16 hours vs 8 hours).
-Not really necessary (yet). I'm thinking that in the future they may start making structural engineers take the 2-day test to get an SE but this is a long shot. For now, unless I move to CA or IL, I doubt I'll need an SE.
-Might be all a waste if I go to another country that wont accept the SE to practice engineering there.

So, does anyone have any good advice on what they would do?

EIT with BS in Civil/Structural engineering.

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

If you feel confident you can pass the SE, do it.  $700 and an extra day do not constitute a major extra investment.

Hg

Eng-Tips policies:  FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

I am a little confused. To take the SE I thought you have to have x number of years experience as a PE working in the Structural field before you can qualify to take the SE.

I know that they recently changed the SE exams but if you do not have a PE that doesn't apply to you. You have to first get a PE.  

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

(OP)
Oh, is that requirement still in effect? If so then it looks like my choice has been made for me. Do you know where I can confirm this because I've been having trouble finding requirements for the new SE test.

My understanding was that only a few states had a requirement of X years as a PE before you could qualify as a SE but nothing was required to actually sit for the SE test. Then, the licensing to become a PE only required that you take an 8 hour professional test and the 16 hours for the SE seemed to fit that requirement.

EIT with BS in Civil/Structural engineering.

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

(OP)
Hmmmm, after carefully reading the requirements (for Maine at least) to be licensed as a PE it looks like you do indeed have to take the PE test first and the SE test cannot be used in place of the PE like I first thought.

Well, I guess that answers that questions.

EIT with BS in Civil/Structural engineering.

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

(OP)
Well, huh. Even though I was pretty sure that you were right shacked and that a 2-day SE wouldn't get me a PE I still shot off an email to the Maine licensure board. Got this back:

"The answer is yes.   Maine use[d] to license an applicant who passed just the Structural 1 exam.  Many States required both the SS1 & SS2 exams.  California, New York and maybe a few more States required the Civil, SS1, SS2 and a State specific exam to be licensed as a Structural engineer.   The option for just the SS1 or the SS2 is no longer available. So, yes, you can take the 16 hour Structural exam and obtain a Maine PE license once you pass."

So, I guess I'm back to my original plan and question. Is it worth it to take the SE to get a PE. Seems like it is to me.

EIT with BS in Civil/Structural engineering.

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

Whether or not its worth it to take the 2 day test depends on where you want to get registered.

I took the SEI and SEII(comparable to the new 2 day structural exam), but not the Civil PE.  Basically, I can get registered in any state east of the Rockies.  To get registered in CA (and some other states) I would have had to take the Civil PE first, along with some other state specific tests.  

If I had taken the Civil PE only, the only state east of the rockies I could not get registered in for Structural type work would have been Illinois.  However, that may change if other states begin to adopt the model law SE (which seems to be likely.)

So depending on where you want to get registered you may want to take one or the other, or both.



 

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

Hold on a minute.  The PE first before the SE may only apply in your state but I've never heard of that at all.

Most states you DON'T have to take the PE prior to the SE.

Where did you read that the PE is required first?

I'm licensed in 22 states, three with the SE, and have never heard of that before.

In Illinois, for example, they don't require the PE to get an SE.

 

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

(OP)
Wow, I've apparently hit on something that's not very clear. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

From my research it seems that there are indeed a few states that require you to take the PE test (California for one) but they are limited. There are a few more that require you to have worked as a PE for a few years before registering as an SE there (but you don't need to have taken the PE test from what I see).

So, I think both JAE and bklkjh are right, that there are a few states that require you to have taken the PE test to be a PE (and an SE) but that they're only a handful and that, more commonly, if you're a PE in one you're a PE in almost all.

EIT with BS in Civil/Structural engineering.

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

TehMightyPirate - Here's another small obstacle.  In Illinois to be accepted for the SEI and SEII exam you need to show a certain amount of structural engineering coursework.  This typically impacts, but may not always exclude, the BSCE candidate.  

As an instructure for the SE licensure test preparation, I've heard many stories from course takers that they were required to take more coursework.  The most commone of courses were Masonry and Wood.

And keep in mind what Maine described in their response to you.  Even if you do take the SEI and SEII you may still have to sit for third exam that is state specific.  I believe both California and Washington have this requirement.

Another small obstacle to consider is that often times states likes to restrict a lot of out of state applicants by requiring references that have a SE in the state your seeking application in.

JAE - Are you licensed in Washington as an SE?  I'd like to know what you're experience was if so.

Regards,
Qshake
pipe
Eng-Tips Forums:Real Solutions for Real Problems Really Quick.
 

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

Qshake - not Washington - My SE states are Illinois, Utah, Nebraska.  Illinois is a practice state.  Utah is partial practice.  NE is a title state only but moving toward a partial practice.

For Illinois - I can't recall the specifics for experience but I had an MS in Structural Engineering at the time so this probably satisfied any course requirements.

 

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

(OP)
Qshake - Thanks, that's helpful information. I understand that I'm likely going to have to take addition tests in a few states, that's no problem. I'll deal with that if and when I have to practice in those states.

As for the course work it seems that I might meet that. From the NCEES "model law engineer-structural engineering":

"Has passed a minimum of 18 semester (27 quarter) hours of structural analysis and design courses. At least 9 of the semester (14 quarter) hours must be structural design courses."

I've taken (off the top of my head):

Steel Design: 4 hours
Concrete Design: 4 hours
Wood Design: 4 hours
Structural Analysis 1 and 2: 8 hours (if I recall correctly, might be only 6)

So I should be all set there.

The only thing that does worry me is that I don't believe I have anyone whom I can reference and that has a SE designation, only PEs.

EIT with BS in Civil/Structural engineering.

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

shacked - yep I'm sure you are correct.  California is unique in that respect.

 

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

I just took the PE in Illinois.  I got a mean letter from the state saying that I should have taken the SE because 90% of my experience was in Structural.  While they were correct, I still needed a PE for the other 10% of my job duties.  
I decided to take the PE first because it is easier, and kind of gave me a heads up of what to expect for the SE (like time factor & additional test taking experience).
In Illinois, you cannot be a licensed PE without taking the PE exam.  You must take both exams to hold both titles.  

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

...and in Illinois, you can't do ANY structural design without an SE.  The PE doesn't allow you to do structural.

 

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

JAE - Thanks for the reply.

 

Regards,
Qshake
pipe
Eng-Tips Forums:Real Solutions for Real Problems Really Quick.
 

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

(OP)
DWHA - So, even if you have a PE in another state they wont grant you a PE by comity unless you have taken the PE test?

EIT with BS in Civil/Structural engineering.

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

TMP - I believe that Illinois accepts reciprocity for the PE exam. I'd be very surprised if they didn't.

They do not for the SE exam....or didn't when I received mine.  I believe it's been mentioned before, the Illinois SE is a practice act and has been for longer than anyone cares to remember, well before CA decided to have a SE.  And for whatever reason, they decided not to accept reciprocity from other states.  I don't know if that has changed now or not.   

Regards,
Qshake
pipe
Eng-Tips Forums:Real Solutions for Real Problems Really Quick.
 

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

(OP)
Qshake - Makes sense. I wonder if they'll start accepting the 2-day SE test, though? Either way it doesn't change my decision, if I need to practice as an SE in Illinois I'll pass that hurdle when I come to it.

EIT with BS in Civil/Structural engineering.

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

I just watched an engineer that had never designed a building pass the Civil-Structural PE exam.  It really scared the crap out of me knowing he can seal building plans now because he studied hard enough for 3 months.  It just highlights the need to make SE licensure mandatory for any Structural work similar to Illinois.  So I decided I would only hire SE for any future positions in our office.

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

(OP)
@BRGENG: I'll send you my resume when I'm done. :P

But, yes, I agree. Technically, by any ethical standard, one should not practice out of their field of experience. Thus, I wouldn't dream of doing a cable-stayed bridge as I have no experience in it.

However, I totally agree with what you mean. Just the other week I reviewed a top slab of a small reinforced concrete vault used for stormwater collection in parking lots. The Engineer (who according to their stamp number has been around a while) put little to no rebar in it, had many un-reinforced stress concentration points, and had a tapered section that could barely take the weight of a car, to say nothing of the H-20 loading it was supposedly rated for. Trying to explain to the client that just because they stamped it does not make it structurally sound was not fun.

Anyway, it is good to hear that not only will getting a SE license be a nice feather in my cap but that many firms (and probably the ones I'd like to work for) are recognizing the SE license as a useful designation.

EIT with BS in Civil/Structural engineering.

RE: PE vs new 2-day SE

TehMightyPirate, I think you said it best with "probably the ones I'd like to work for".  While many qualified engineers that design buildings only have a PE, I think I would want to work for and only hire firms that have SE.  We are lucky enough to only have SE's on staff and will keep it that way.  When you are ready, let me know.   

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