Imagine that you are a recent graduate of an ABET-accredited engineering program in the United States. You have taken and passed the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and you are hunting for your first job as an engineer. You send out applications, sit for interviews and have the good fortune to receive two offers of employment. Both positions are interesting and offer reasonable compensation, benefits and responsibilities at established companies; however, only one of the two positions represents qualifying experience for the purpose of becoming a licensed Professional Engineer (PE).
What is the dollar value of that qualifying experience?
In other words, how can the applicant calculate the value of progress toward PE licensure as part of the "total compensation" the job offers, as is commonly done for benefits such as employer-subsidized health insurance, relocation assistance or gym memberships, so as to make a more informed decision about which offer to accept?
For a position to represent "qualifying engineering experience," The National Society of Professional Engineers specifies that it must involve:
- A major branch of engineering
- Supervision by one or more qualified engineers
- The development of "technical skill and initiative in the application of engineering principles and sound judgment in reviewing such applications by others"
- A reasonably well-rounded experience in that branch of engineering
- Work of increasing complexity and responsibility
I myself interviewed for two positions at the same organization, with the same title, shortly after finishing my undergraduate degree. One of the positions was supervised directly by a PE and the other was not, nor did it involve work that would be reviewed at some point by a PE—it was made very clear during the interviews whether or not each job represented qualifying experience toward a PE.
In other cases, a recent graduate may entertain offers from both traditional engineering firms and companies that operate in related, but not strictly engineering, fields. For example, Accenture recruits engineering graduates at my alma mater for non-engineering positions. Some engineering graduates have a background that qualifies them for software development positions. Others may have the option of pursuing positions in R&D or pure research.
The best answers will thoroughly justify their analysis and cite references for any statistics used. I wouldn't discount a novel "back of the napkin" approach, though.