What are the requirements to take the fundamentals of engineering?

For instance could a physics major, computer science major, IT major or something thing else take the exam? How does accreditation factor into it?

Also bear in mind I'm not asking about EIT or EI. Just a seat for the exam. I understand it will vary from state to state so whether or not the NCEES puts any restrictions on the exam would be nice to know.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Paul Licensure is very relevant to engineering as a career $\endgroup$
    – DLS3141
    Jun 16 '16 at 12:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure why a non-engineer would want to take the EIT in the first place. Your academic career has not prepared you to take the exam, and it's unlikely that having taken the exam will do anything to burnish your credentials as a physicist, IT chap, etc. It's like asking to sit for the Bar exam when you didn't go to law school. $\endgroup$
    – user16622
    Jun 16 '16 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ I have to agree with @user16622 that this question is a bit of a non-sequitur... but it does have an answer, at least. $\endgroup$
    – Air
    Jun 17 '16 at 0:55
  • $\begingroup$ I know of more than a few working engineers that do not have an engineering undergrad degree. They have degrees in a science like physics or chemistry but have migrated into the engineering role typically through experience and education. It is a bit odd to be considering such a thing while still in school, after all, why not just study engineering? $\endgroup$
    – DLS3141
    Jun 17 '16 at 13:49

The following section of the flowchart might answer some of the questions.

FE Waiver Chart

Below are references that you might find useful.


  • $\begingroup$ This answer is entirely concerned with qualifying for licensure and has nothing directly to do with sitting the FE. $\endgroup$
    – Air
    Jun 17 '16 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Air OP opening question is "What are the requirements to take the fundamentals of engineering?". Also OP question is directed to non-engineering major. Also think you need to qualify before you can sit for the exams. Am I wrong. $\endgroup$ Jun 17 '16 at 0:47
  • $\begingroup$ It depends on the state. In many you only have to pay the fee to sit the exam. See my answer. $\endgroup$
    – Air
    Jun 17 '16 at 0:54

The only requirement imposed by NCEES to sit the FE is that you pay the exam fee. NCEES addresses this generally on their page about the FE:

Exam fees and requirements

An exam fee of $225 is payable directly to NCEES during the registration process. Some licensing boards may require examinees to file a separate application and pay an application fee as part of their approval process in order to be qualified for seating for an NCEES exam. Your licensing board may have additional requirements.

And again, more strongly-worded, on the third page of the NCEES Examinee Guide (emphasis mine):

Eligibility to sit for an NCEES exam varies by state/territory and is determined by each licensing board. It is your responsibility to review your licensing board requirements at ncees.org/boards before registering for an exam.

So, how do you figure out the exact requirements in your state? Let's look at an example.

Massachussetts requires that an additional application form be submitted to and processed by their state board. This form is titled BOARD APPLICATION FOR THE FE AND/OR EIT CERTIFICATION and seems as though it can actually be used in the way you describe, by selecting the third option in response to question 21:

  1. Upon successful completion of the fundamentals exam, select the classification below that best describes your eligibility for Engineer-in-Training certification:


(c) Eligibility for EIT certification insufficient due to formal education requirements or experience requirements; no certification will be issued upon successful completion of the fundamentals exam.

This doesn't seem to strictly agree with the state regulations, though—specifically 250 CMR 3.01(7), which reads:

Once the Board has reviewed the applicant's education, Work Experience, character and experience references, college transcripts and documentation, the Board may schedule the engineering applicant for an interview; and the Board shall schedule all land surveying applicants for the mandatory oral exam. Once the Board has determined that all applicable statutory requirements have been met, the applicant will be scheduled to sit for the applicable written examinations.

This language assumes that the applicant is pursuing certification; it's not written to accommodate what you might call an "exam tourist" (if there is such a thing). But there's also 3.10(3):

Individuals who have passed the respective FE or FS Exam prior to meeting the other certification requirements noted above must contact the Board's administrator for the proper filing requirements for certification.

Nearly all of the explicit requirements set out in that chapter are concerning the PE/PS exams rather than the Fundamentals exams; the only explicit requirement I notice concerning the Fundamentals is that you submit the state application. Practically speaking, it's possible the body that reviews that application has internal policies and procedures that would result in your application being denied, in which case you might have to appeal directly to the reviewing body.

Long story short, just read the applicable state regulations. If something is ambiguous or hard to understand, contact the state licensing board directly. Depending on your motivation for sitting the exam without an engineering background, however, they may not be inclined to help you and you might have to just try submitting the application and see if they let you in.

On the other end of the spectrum, California does not require any separate application, in which case you would just register with NCEES and pay the fee. If you live in such a state, you can create an account on the NCEES website and go through all the necessary steps to register for the exam during the open registration period. You will need to agree to certain terms, that you are who you say you are, etc., and pay the fee to NCEES. You will be prompted to provide information about your education and it's important that you answer truthfully. On the day of the exam, bring a printout of your registration and a photo ID.


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