What Makes a PE Different from an Engineer?

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Engineering is one of the most lucrative, exciting, and important careers in the world today. This is because of the variety of opportunities that professional engineers have access to as well as the amount of money they can make. 

If you look at most of the things that we use today, you are likely going to realize that they were made or designed by a certain type of engineer.

Professional engineers are tasked with inventing, conceptualizing, designing, analyzing, building, and testing different types of equipment, systems, products, machines, and materials.

They do this to make sure that these items meet a set of requirements and objectives especially when it comes to regulations, costs, safety, and practicality. In a nutshell, engineers make life easy for us and provide solutions to enable us to engage in different activities.

However, despite all the work done by engineers, most people do not know how to differentiate a professional engineer from an engineer. While they both start training together, it takes quite some time to become a professional engineer. 

Who is a Professional Engineer?

Professional engineering can be described as the only designation that the law recognizes and makes people capable of presenting themselves as engineers.

A professional engineer is a person who has spent at least four years studying for a degree, has experience working under other professional engineers, and has taken PE exam prep courses preparing for the certification exams.

These exams cover the engineering fundamentals as well as competency in the branch of engineering that one is specializing in.

Today, the most common branches of engineering include Geotechnical, Management, Electrical, Civil, Chemical, Mechanical, and Mechatronics. There are many other subcategories under each of these branches.

After becoming a professional engineer, one accepts the ethical and enforceable legal duties to ensure that there is competence in the field of engineering. They are also expected to ensure that public welfare, safety, and health are given priority whenever they are working on any project.

However, becoming a PE is not all rosy and the journey in the career is not always smooth. This is because, with the certificate as a PE, you also get exposed to different risks, responsibilities, and liabilities. 

In addition, if you happen to violate any of the ethical or regulatory requirements, you might end up with license suspensions, revocations, fines, or even condemnation.

This makes professional engineering one of the leading careers when it comes to risks that might make one lose their jobs.

Who is an Engineer?

Engineering can be defined as the application of mathematics, physics, and science by which energy and the properties of matter are made to benefit people. It involves the process of designing and manufacturing different materials and products.

Engineers are tasked with acting as a link between commercial applications and scientific discoveries to ensure that consumer and societal needs are met. That notwithstanding, most people do not use the term engineer appropriately.

If you were to do a survey today, asking people who an engineer is, you would be surprised with the kind of answers you would be getting. Some people would tell you that an engineer is a person who works as a waste collector, a train driver, a mechanic, or even a person working in a television station.

This is confusing especially to the public. In addition to this, some companies assign the title engineer to some of their employees without even checking to see whether the employees have gone through the right training to be called engineers.

You will find titles such as project engineer, service engineer, and plant engineer among others with people who do not deserve to be called engineers.

Engineers are people who have training in mathematics and science. This shows the difference between them and the different answers that people would give you above.

They have a minimum of four years of training to obtain a degree and help them apply mathematical and scientific knowledge in their jobs.


Engineers are common in almost every other industry today, from finance, manufacturing, to technology among others. For instance, looking at the finance and banking industry, you will find that engineers are involved in different things such as AI-powered automation to transform the industry.

An engineer is different from a professional engineer. As discussed above, while a professional engineer takes different courses and is required to be experienced for them to be certified, an engineer requires a degree in mathematics and science. However, PEs can present themselves to the public as engineers.

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