After running the gamut of university course work to get your engineering degree, I fully understand anyone questioning why they should even care about preparing for and taking the FE Exam.
Let me start with this:
I get it…I was in your same exact shoes.
As I walked across the stage white knuckling my diploma, I pledged to not look back, no more studying, no more exams…
It was career time.
But that course was quickly corrected when I realized the bureaucratic nature of the corporate landscape.
No matter how many hours I worked, no matter how many projects I performed ahead of pace on, no matter how many meetings I attended, or groups I participated in, the reality of it all revealed itself time and again…
I was just an *engineering entity* that fit the bill.
I was an *engineer* on paper for any proposal that was pushed out the door at the 11th hour.
The *engineer* on paper for any time that was billed.
I was an *engineer* on paper for any outbound recruiting efforts.
I was an *engineer* on paper for…well, for whatever the company had a *need* for at that particular moment in time.
This revelation flipped the script on everything I thought an engineering career was to be.
I pursued an engineering degree because of the security I felt it would bring.
In my world view, an engineering degree was the ticket to a long, ever evolving career that returned both personally fulfilling and monetarily…
But this in and of itself, was wrong…and I wasn’t even thinking about the FE Exam.
Coming out of college, the foundation of my formula was this:
Get in at the biggest and baddest engineering firm and rest as they fast track me up the proverbial ladder.
But that is where I was wrong…*rest as they fast track me up*.
An engineering career does not start, nor finish, when you take a stroll across that stage…It just continues.
You see, there was a formula that worked to get you to the point you are right now in your life, and at the center of this formula was an investment in yourself.
Here’s the deal, no one will put more care or effort in to developing you in to what you are meant to be than yourself.
It was you who created the baddest science fair project when you were in the third grade.
You who pursued preparing yourself to score highly on the SAT.
It was you who doubled up on units, and homework, to stay ahead in your engineering tract.
Above all…it was you.
And it’s going to be you who turns to understanding the need to pass the FE Exam.
This is no *woe is me’ing* rant, it’s just calling it for how it is…and when we can do that, we can adjust and execute on a more defined path moving forward.
Every single individual, and corporate behemoth alike, has there own personal agenda for where they want to be in the years to come.
Who are we to have the audacity to bank that any one will forgo there own agenda to drive ours?
This is where many of us stand at this moment, balancing on the seesaw of:
Relying on someone else or…
Realizing that doing so is just a pipe dream that does nothing but lead to endless letdowns.
And this is why we must care about the FE Exam.
Becoming a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) is a natural milestone for any aspiring engineering.
It’s just a continuation of everything you have put in to play up to this point.
But it so happens to fall outside the structure of formal education.
And because it falls outside of the structure of formal education, many are tempted to *rest on our laurels* until it leads us deep in to a world of stagnant progression and disappointment.
Why we should all care about the FE Exam
The Fundamentals of Engineering exam (FE Exam) is the first step towards acquiring your Professional Engineering (PE) License.
As a licensed Professional Engineer, you become part of a group granted a number of exclusive benefits, some including:
- The ability to stamp and seal Engineering drawings
- Owning your own Engineering Firm with your name associated with it
- Performing individual consulting services to the public
- Greater increases in salaries
Now, for some, you will look at this list and think to yourself, *I don’t really want to do any of that…*.
And that’s OK.
But here’s why we should look at that list from a different perspective.
Remember, every single individual, and corporate behemoth, has there own personal agenda for where they are after.
Breaking this down in to it’s components, we can generally assume that:
The agenda for any corporate behemoth is to maximize profits while the agenda for each individual should be to maximize their position to take advantage of these profits.
We do this by maximizing our value as the *engineering entity*.
It’s, for a lack of better terms, a game we need to play…and it all continues with pursuing the FE Exam.
We need to be the *engineer* who is pulled in on ALL those proposals going out the door at the 11th hour.
The *engineer* who can justify a highest billable rate.
We need to be the *engineer* who is recruited by all engineering firms because we fulfill both the above conditions.
We need to be the *engineer* who is…well, always in *need* at ALL times.
That’s when our personal stock becomes the *asset* rather than the *commodity* we are conditioned to accept post graduation.
Hard Data Speaks to why we should be caring about the FE Exam
Right now, at this point in history, you control the direction of your career more than ever…
And this isn’t just some *fluffer* statement I am throwing out over the social inter-webs.
Over the last several years, some powerful data has come from the roots of our industry.
Data that is fresh, shifting the way you look at your career going forward.
Data that will spotlight what you are doing now to position yourself to take advantage of what’s at stake.
Here’s a synopsis:
The engineering industry has been starving for talent.
Engineering is one of he toughest spots to fill, with 49 percent of US employers struggling to find talent.
There is high demand for you right now, today and the studies show that this demand will continue to build.
The leverage swung in our favor and it became numerically apparent starting back in 2013.
At this point, employers advertised more than 280,000 open engineering positions – setting a historical high…and it hasn’t slowed down.
Between 2012 and 2016, science and engineering employment added 747,040 new jobs, increasing at a rate of 2.9%.
In this same time span, the overall US employment growth rate was 1.9% with a significantly higher unemployment rate.
While Congress and universities have enacted programs to support the education and future development of engineers, employers need solutions now.
And that’s on us, we can’t wait for others to do for us which we can do for ourselves.
The US Department of Labor projects that over the next decade the trend will continue in our favor, projecting that science and engineering jobs will increase by 853,600, growth of 11% over this time period.
We as engineers are in the midst of one of the greatest opportunities this generation has seen and will ever see.
So my only question to every one of you reading this far in to this article is this:
Are you going to answer the call?
Passing the FE Exam (aka the Engineer in Training exam) is a major milestone of a long successful Engineering Career.
We ALL must care…period.
We’ve played the game all the way up and through college, the time to stop is not now, or ever.
We can’t rely on others to punt their agendas in route to push us forward…this is investment not worth taking.
Today you take advantage of all you have done and will do as you move prosperously on to bigger and better things!