Celebrating Professional Engineers—The Value of a PE License

Many people, industries, and organizations find value in holding professional certifications. After all, professional certifications supply the foundations and principles necessary to excel in certain careers, open the gateway to better opportunities and larger salaries, and provide colleagues, peers, and clients with confidence in a professional’s abilities. On August 3, the National Society for Professional Engineers (NSPE) is celebrating Professional Engineers (PE) and the work they do every day.

Obtaining the PE license can be a lengthy but rewarding journey. First, a student must complete a four-year degree in an engineering program. After passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, the individual receives the Engineer-in-Training (EIT) or Engineering Intern (EI) credential. EITs/EIs must gain at least four years of professional experience and complete all required state regulations to be eligible to take the PE exam and become a Professional Engineer.

To commemorate the first Professional Engineers Day, GAI asked some of our own PEs why they chose to pursue the license and what value it brings to their careers and industry:

Being a PE is an honor, a privilege, and a huge responsibility, and I remind myself of that every time I sign and seal a set of plans.

Randy Cohen, PE

Why did you choose to become a professional engineer?

Craig Johnston, PE – Assistant Engineering Manager
I read that the primary responsibility of a professional engineer is to protect the public, and this appealed to me and made me want to become a professional engineer.

Don Spaeder, PE – Vice President
I chose to be a professional engineer, specifically civil, because it involves designing and developing the things that we use or benefit from in our everyday lives. Being able to see the results at the end of the day is pretty cool and rewarding.

MaryBeth Berkes, PE – Senior Project Engineer
PE licensure brings a sense of pride and ownership to the industry. For me, signing and sealing a project makes it feel like my own, and that is one of the most rewarding parts of being a civil engineer.

Randy Cohen, PE – Senior Engineering Manager
I never looked at getting my PE as a “choice.” In my mind, there was no option. As a civil engineer, becoming a PE meant everything to me. I set my sights on that goal as soon as I graduated college, and I made every effort to take and pass the exam as soon as I was eligible. Being a PE is an honor, a privilege, and a huge responsibility, and I remind myself of that every time I sign and seal a set of plans.

Todd Wilson, PE – Project Engineer
When I set out to become a civil engineer, I knew I had to get my PE license. After passing the FE examination and graduating from college, charting a career path that allowed me to take the PE examination was the top priority for me. Being an engineer carries a tremendous amount of responsibility. The PE license lets you, your employer, and your clients know that you have done enough preparatory work to earn the responsibility to practice engineering.


What value does the PE licensure bring to you or your industry?

Craig Johnston, PE – Assistant Engineering Manager
It allows me to be the lead engineer on projects for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which requires a licensed professional engineer.

Khalid Khilji, PE – Senior Engineering Director
The industry requires the PE license to practicing engineering and GAI requires it for further advancement in the company. It represents prestige, confidence, and trust.


Who/what inspired you to become a PE?

Aimee Shields, PE – Project Manager
I was inspired to become a PE by my mentor and friend, Tim Poole, a PE who hired me as an intern while I was still in college. As a PE at a small company, Tim took site projects from start to finish, and touring the finished products motivated me to be able to do the same one day.

Bill McGrew, PE – Senior Director of Aviation
My grandfather was an engineer, and he was one of the greatest influences on my life. I received a full scholarship from the U.S. Army where I became a civil engineer.

Todd Wilson, PE – Project Engineer
Most of my college classes were taught by professors, but one of my most memorable classes was taught by a retired engineer, John F. Graham, PE. Mr. Graham had a long and distinguished career. He managed the design and construction of the Pittsburgh International Airport for Allegheny County. Mr. Graham demonstrated what any PE aspires to be—a competent professional with a command of the engineering discipline who insisted on things being done the right way, rather than the easy way.

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MaryBeth Berkes, PE during a hydraulic field visit.

For over 50 years, GAI’s engineers have faced many challenges—from transportation and traffic engineering for departments of transportation to water and wastewater consulting for power plants. Along the way, many have used the PE licensure to help win work, take ownership of projects, and develop their reputation as leaders in their field.

GAI currently has over 150 Professional Engineers and 80 EITs/EIs on staff, as well as many other employees with various licenses and certifications in their respective fields. We encourage all qualified staff to pursue their professional registrations as part of their career development.

To learn about the history of the PE license and how other engineers feel it has enriched their careers, or to find out more about the first annual Professional Engineers Day, visit the NSPE website.

Other resources:
How to get licensed as a Professional Engineer
Resources for taking your required exams

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