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Engineering Experience

NRS 625.183 states the following:

“4 years or more of active experience in engineering which is satisfactory to the Board and which indicates that the applicant is competent to be placed in responsible charge of engineering work.”

These are important words for aspiring engineers while they are gaining experience to become a licensed professional.  Just because you may be working in a position or industry that employs professional engineers, it does not necessarily mean you are acquiring the requisite experience for licensure.

Good Experience

While all experience is good and will help expand your knowledge of engineering as a whole, some jobs will better prepare you for licensure. A few examples of jobs that will better prepare you for licensure include:

  • Private sector job working under a licensed engineer
  • Public sector job working under a licensed engineer
  • Public projects working on a team

Generally speaking, any job that requires you to apply engineering principles and concepts is good.  Even better is when you are supported and encouraged to apply engineering knowledge, skills, and abilities progressively and independently.

Good, But Not Good Enough for Licensure

There are several types of jobs that do not qualify as adequate experience.  If your job is one where you are tasked with using minimal engineering judgement, you are likely not getting the experience you need to qualify for licensure.

Some jobs may limit the ability of college graduates to gain necessary engineering experience.  Problematic jobs can be those that are prescriptive in nature and/or those that provide little opportunity to exercise engineering judgement.  Examples include technical product sales, permit processers, construction inspectors/materials testers, construction cost estimators, and procurement/contracting engineers.

Permit processer jobs tend to be prescriptive. This type of job typically only reviews other engineers’ work.  If this is your first engineering job, you need to be aware that you will need to expand your duties to gain the experience needed to increase your independent engineering knowledge to be a professional in responsible charge of engineering work.

Construction inspectors/materials inspectors are other examples of jobs that afford limited engineering experience. There is a considerable difference between performing a soil compaction test and understanding the nuances of the test to conclude whether it was performed correctly with correctly documented results.

It’s Up to You

It’s up to you to take responsibility for your career.  If you believe that are not getting the experience you need to qualify for licensure, talk to your supervisor about taking on greater responsibilities, and ask to be assigned new duties that enable you to apply engineering principles that will help you become a professional engineer.  In some cases, you may want to consider changing jobs to grow your skills and get the necessary experience.

In rare instances you might not have the ability to gain the necessary two years supervision under a licensed engineer.  If you are performing engineering work in a field that has little to no licensed engineers, seek a mentor or an engineer outside of the organization who can review your work and provide supervision and guidance.  In these unique instances the board has waived the two years supervision requirement and accepted mentorship.

Your experience should show that you have taken on progressive responsibilities.  In describing your experience, you must clearly articulate how you applied engineering principles. The Board will evaluate your experience to determine if you are ready to be licensed as a professional engineer who can practice independently and be in responsible charge of the work that you perform.

The bottom line: It’s your responsibility to obtain the experience that demonstrates you are competent to be placed in responsible charge of engineering work.