To practice as an engineer in the United States and be able to sign projects, it is necessary to pass PE and have the Professional Engineer certification.
The first obstacle to obtaining a license is passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, which enables you to become an Engineer-In-Training (EIT).
Registration is done through the NCEES website, which follows the instructions of the corresponding Board. It is necessary to fill out a form asking for education. Although it is not necessary to justify it with degrees or certificates of grades. Until recently, the exam was 8 hours and was done on paper and can be done only for two days a year, usually in April and October. Since 2014, the format has changed to 6 hours (with 25 minutes of rest), using a computer to answer the questions (computer-based) and continuous examination, that is, can be done when desired. However, it is necessary to go to certain centers with computers prepared for it. The NCEES rate in 2014 amounted to $225.
The exam consists of 110 multiple-choice questions, with four options of which there is only one correct. No points are subtracted for the answers that have not been answered, but it is necessary to answer correctly more than 75% approximately. The exam is offered in seven specialties (FE Chemical, FE Civil, FE Electrical and Computer, FE Environmental, FE Industrial, FE Mechanical and FE Other Disciplines) on which the questions are based, with a common part to all. You can choose any of them. Although it is not the specialty that has been studied in the career or the discipline to which you want to later opt in the PE. The most generalist is that of FE Other Disciplines, which is recommended if it has been a long time since the end of studies or if the university program was very general.
The difficulty of the exam resembles the level that is acquired in the second year. Only the use of a form that is provided in the exam and that can be consulted in NCEES is allowed ; and a calculator, among the allowed models (scientific, not programmable). The exam is very practical and oriented to the application of formulas that do not need to be demonstrated. There is no question about abstract concepts or theorems, being, in general, of a quite affordable level. The pass rate is around 70%. The biggest challenge is time management due to the large number of questions. Although you can use the system of units English or US customary (inches, Fahrenheit, pounds …) most of the questions are in International System.
The basic and sufficient reference to prepare it, is the book FE Review Manual: Rapid Preparation for the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination written by Michael R. Lindeburg, PE, of the PPI publishing house. It contains all the chapters of theory as well as a huge collection of solved problems, of difficulty superior to those of the real exam. In addition, there are manuals from the same publisher that are specific to the different disciplines; and it is recommended the collections of practice exams that are commercialized by the NCEES itself, with difficulty similar to that of the real exam. It is estimated that about three months of study or about 150 hours are required.