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Engineering Icon Value of Licensure

Professional engineering and surveying licensure

Public protection

The safety of buildings, bridges, roads, and other structures and technologies used in our everyday lives depends on professionally licensed engineers and surveyors who have successfully demonstrated a level of competence through education, experience, and examination requirements. These “three Es” are an important distinction between highly complex, technical professions such as engineering and surveying and the trade and vocational occupations.

How professional licensure protects the public


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Professional licensure for engineers and surveyors provides a baseline level of proven standards necessary to protect the public. Education, experience, and examinations are the three pillars of public protection.


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Public protection is particularly critical in highly complex, technical professions where the public does not have the specialized knowledge needed to evaluate qualifications and performance.


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Once licensed, professionally licensed engineers and surveyors must adhere to a strict code of conduct, which requires them to practice in a manner that safeguards the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

In professions with high impact on public safety and welfare, more than 70 percent of voters believe that it is important to regulate professionals in engineering and surveying and other related fields such as architecture, landscape architecture, and accounting.
Source: Benenson Strategy Group Survey, 2019

Why engineering and surveying licensure matters

In most cases, consumers can choose a service provider based on recommendations and decide whether to continue using them based on their level of satisfaction. There is usually minimal risk to public safety in these types of services. This is not true for highly technical professions such as engineering and surveying. Consumers do not get to choose who builds the bridges and roads they drive on every day. They must rely on their state lawmakers to ensure their safety through licensing standards that require engineers and surveyors to demonstrate a level of competence through education, examinations, and experience.

Weakening or eliminating licensure standards for engineers and surveyors will put the public at an increased level of risk. Since the first engineering and surveying licensure laws were established, lawmakers in every state have taken seriously their responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public in situations where the public is unable to do so for itself. This commitment to public protection must continue.

Learning from the past, safeguarding the future


The St. Francis Dam in California collapsed killing more than 430 people. It is still considered one of the worst American civil engineering disasters of the 20th century.


In New London, Texas, a school explosion caused by a natural gas leak killed 300 people.

In response to the explosion, the Texas state legislature enacted legislation that would later become known as the Texas Engineering Practice Act and included the following statement:

"The purpose of this chapter is to: enable the state and the public to identify persons authorized to practice engineering in this state…It therefore becomes apparent that this legislation was not enacted to restrict the number of practitioners, but rather to 'safeguard life, health, and property and protect the public welfare.'"

Both of these tragic incidents, as well as similar ones in other states, served as a catalyst for professional engineering and surveying licensing laws in their respective states and throughout the country. Those lawmakers of long ago took the necessary steps to create licensing laws that protect the citizens of their states.

“Professional engineering and surveying licensure is rigorous for a reason. Through education, experience, and exams, professional licensure establishes an important verification of qualifications that is critical in safeguarding the public. As a licensed professional engineer and a licensed professional surveyor, public protection is top of mind for me every day.”

Kelly Fedele, P.E., P.S.

Director, DTE Energy

"As a professional engineer and manager working with various teams at our company, I recognize the importance of the qualifications gained through professional licensure. Looking holistically at a project before signing off on the design is critical to ensuring that the final product is safe and best meets the needs of our customers."

Kevin Edwards, P.E., MBB

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Bechtel Corporation

Facilitating the interstate comity licensure process

The NCEES Records Program is used by state licensing boards and licensed engineers and surveyors to expedite the interstate comity licensure process for those who need to be licensed in multiple states. An NCEES Record is a verified compilation of the individual’s education, examination results, work experience, and professional references. In many cases, it allows currently licensed engineers and surveyors to become licensed in another state within 5-7 business days.


“The NCEES Records program has helped tremendously to expedite the interstate comity licensure process and assist me in becoming professionally licensed in thirteen states.”

Randy Zerr, P.E., P.S.

County Engineer, Iowa

How professional engineers and surveyors protect the public

Through Advance: An NCEES podcast series and P.E. and P.S. Profiles, NCEES highlights the important work of licensed engineers and surveyors, as well as provides updates on important topics related to professional licensure.