Have you ever been interested in how many FE and PE test-takers there were last year? What about their pass rates? How about how many engineers are in the USA? The NCEES even lets us know how many international test-takers there were – all in the 2019 NCEES Squared Report. We dive into it today and talk about some of the numbers. Maybe there’s something we can learn if you are preparing for your exams.
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CEA Show Notes
Isaac (00:00): Hey, what's up everybody, Isaac here with Civil Engineering Academy coming at you again with another sweet episode of our podcast as well as a YouTube video for those watching. Today I want to go over a sweet report, the NCEES Squared Report 2019. Every year the NCEES produces a report and it goes over some of the numbers regarding how many test-takers are out there, how many people with PEs are out there in the world, well in the United States, probably in the world too, but we're going to check it out. I'm going to go through it with you on the podcast.
Isaac (00:49): If you go to NCEES.org, you can go grab this report, just go search for the Squared report. I'm headed there right now and I just clicked on the report. It brings up a nice little PDF.
Isaac (01:39): I think one of the beauties of this report is that it's actually really graphically visually appealing. It's really nice looking. These 3D graphics on the front cover look pretty cool. So it's called the Squared Report folks. The reason why they chose the name Squared, and this is coming right out of the document itself, is that it means that they want to be direct, honest, and in good order. The mission of the NCEES is to advance licensure for engineering, for surveying and in order to safeguard the health and wellbeing and safety of the public. So Squared is one way that they do this by providing a straightforward account of basically their numbers for the fiscal year. So this is data that they put together, which usually lags.
Isaac (02:39): So this is basically from, what does this say? "All of the information presented in this report, which began October 1st, 2018, and ended September 30th, 2019." So we call it the 2019 report which comes out in 2020, basically covers what happened through the end of 2018 up to September of 2019. It's a good resource. It's kind of fun to check out the numbers that are in here. It gives you an insight of what's going on out there in the world of the Civil FE, the PE, and how all of this works. So who is the NCEES, the NCEES is basically a nonprofit organization. It's the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Their whole purpose is to advance licensure for engineers and surveyors. That's their whole goal. It was created in 1920 and it's been working to facilitate mobility for professional engineers and surveyors by providing its member boards and licensees with services that promote uniformly and license laws and all kinds of good stuff.
Isaac (03:52): They have here a nice little graphic and it says they have 69 NCEES board members. What's interesting is that some board members represent only engineering or surveying. The majority of them represent both and that the boards are multi-professional and they regulate additional professions, such as architecture. One board in Illinois regulates structural engineering as a separate license category. So kind of interesting there. Most licensing board members are appointed actually by the governor of the state they're in and the makeup of membership varies according to a jurisdiction statute, so a required number of professional engineers, surveyors, and public members. They have 69 NCEES board members. They have one that's a structural only, 11 are engineering only, 13 are surveying only, 16 are multi-professional, and 28 joint engineering surveying. Then they have that broken up into whether you live in the Western area of the US, the Southern, Central, or Northeast.
Isaac (05:04): There's actually 603 licensing board members, of those 255 have the PE only, 141 have the PS only, which is the survey license. 93 are public members, 74 have other licenses of a different variety of professional licenses. 40 of those have a dual license of PE and PS so the whole board is made up of a variety of people. It's not just engineers there. I thought that was interesting. The exams are basically developed by engineers and surveyors who volunteer to write and evaluate the problems that are found in the exams. They had a total of 762 volunteers and they worked on these exams in 49 meetings. That's a lot of meetings, representing a total of almost 23,000 hours spent developing exam content for the 8 fundamentals and 26 professional exam disciplines. So 49 meetings, 762 volunteers, and almost 23,000 hours spent.
New Speaker (06:19): In 2019, there were a total of almost 52,000 FE exam takers. There were almost 132,000 total engineering bachelor degrees awarded in 2018, which is fascinating to me. If you want to break that down further, we can. Transition from pencil and paper to CBT for the FE exam, the makeup is that they had 51,814 FE test-takers in 2019, which is surprising to me. You had 132,000 engineering bachelor's degrees awarded and almost 52,000 FE test takers. A lot of schools that are accredited usually say that you cannot graduate without getting the FE done. So some schools I guess do not require that. That was all CBT for the FE.
New Speaker (07:27): For the PE exam, there were actually 904 computer-based PE exams issued this round and almost 30,000 pencil and paper based. The majority of those are obviously the civil exams. So a total of 30,521 total PE test takers. They keep expanding the disciplines that offer PE licenses. I think this started with civil engineering as being the majority of PE licenses and it's definitely a must for civil engineers, but they expanded to mechanical and now they have electrical disciplines and fire systems and all kinds of PE licenses that we'll talk about here shortly.
New Speaker (08:18): Pencil and paper exams for the SE exam, there were 2,400 people. That's actually a lot less than I thought would be taking the SE exam, but there were exactly 2,400 people that took the SE exam.
Isaac (08:31): A conversion schedule. So if you are curious about going computer-based testing because that is the way things are going these days. In 2020, they moved the PE fire protection over. In 2020, they also moved the industrial and systems, the mechanical, HVAC and refrigeration, the mechanical machine design and materials, the mechanical thermal fluid systems and that was all converted to CBT in 2020. Then in 2021, you've got the PE agricultural that is moving over, the electrical and computer for computer engineering. Then you got a PE electrical and computer electronics controls and communications and the PE electrical and computer power that is all moving to computer based testing in 2021. Then also in 2021, PE mining and mineral processing. Whew. It's a lot of PE exams. A lot of different disciplines there. In 2022, you're getting another conversion of PE exam test takers from architectural to control system to metallurgical to Naval and those go CBT in 2022. In 2023 which is what you guys care about, for civil engineers, that is when the depth exams go computer based.
Isaac (09:56): So you got your civil construction, geo-tech, structural, transportation and then water resources also goes there as well. Then in 2024, they save at the very end, the structural SE exams. So there you go. That'll complete the whole CBT transition of things that all started with the FE exam and that would convert everything over to the computer based after 2024. So you'll see a lot of coursework. If you're going to take a review course, there's going to be some transition. I'm sure they're going to come up with a new spec and I'm sure they're going to come up with a new reference manual that will be the only thing that you can take with you to the exam because they're already doing that with the other exams. So, something to look forward to.
Isaac (10:50): Let's take a look at the FE pass rates next. If you are an FE test taker, it's designed for people who are in school or recent graduates, that's kind of the purpose for that one. It's the first step in becoming a Professional Engineer. You have to take the FE to become a PE. If we dive into that a little bit, you can see here on YouTube, I'll read these numbers, chemical engineers, there were almost 2500 first time test takers and pass rate of 75%. Pretty good. Volume of 235 repeat takers drops down to 40%. The one we care about right now, if you are on this channel and what I'm involved with is the civil engineering one. That definitely has the most with mechanical taking second place, but civil engineers, there were 15,473 test takers for the FE exam and 65% of you pass the first time. If you're a repeat taker, that dropped to 7,131 people and that drops to 34%.
Isaac (12:04): Those percentages are actually really close to the PE exam as well. Usually, you bounce between like 65 and 70%, so FE test takers and also the PE test takers are very similar. They go further on this report and break this down to those that came from an ABET accredited college with an ABET bachelor's degree to find out what your percentage was compared to other examinees that did not have that. It does bump up a little bit. So if you're a first time taker that goes up to 67% if you came from an ABET school and from other schools, it drops to about 59% for a first time taker. So pretty interesting stuff. Anyway, go check that out.
New Speaker (12:50): This one's very interesting. They talk about the top 10 universities by FE exam volume. So they went through and they looked at all the universities and whose sending them the most students to take the FE exam. The number one college that is sending people to get the FE exam done is Missouri University of Science and Technology with 683 people. Number two is Texas A&M University with 550 people. Then you can just go down the list. There's Montana State, University of Colorado Boulder, California State Polytech University, North Carolina State University, Penn State, Washington State, University of Nevada, and the United States Military Academy. That is your top 10 colleges sending people to get the FE done.
New Speaker (13:41): If I were to ask you guys, what's the most popular time to take the FE exam, what would you say? I would say something like, it would fall at the same time as the PE exam. So it'd be spring and fall is probably what I would think. But the truth is found when you dive into the numbers based on the report. The report is broken up into four windows basically in quarters. Let's start in January. In January to March, you get about 26% taking the exam. Then in April to June, it's jumps up to a little over 32%. In July to September, it drops all the way down to 20%. Then in October to December, it's about 22%.
New Speaker (14:40): So the highest percentage of people taking the exam actually falls into the April to June timeframe. I really think the reason for that is because you are wrapping up school. A lot of people have either fewer classes in the summertime or they don't have any classes at all. A lot of students are probably thinking I can cram and I can study for this in the summertime because I don't have any school work, I don't have anything pressing for my time or if I do, I only have like one or two classes, which is better than taking 18 credit hours or whatever during the normal semester. So anyway, April to June is the most popular time to take the FE exam. Pretty interesting.
New Speaker (15:29): Alrighty, let's jump to the good stuff now. So we're going to look at civil engineering PE pass rates. Here are some of the numbers I want to break down for you. There were 1,572 people that took the construction exam for their depth exam as first time takers in 2019 and the pass rate was 55%. There was 1400 people that were repeat takers and it dropped to 34%. What's that all about? Well, the first thing I think is if you're struggling with this and you need a review course, you need to check out the course we developed, which is the Ultimate Civil PE Review Program. Go check that out at civilpereviewcourse.com. We can help you get there.
New Speaker (16:33): I think a lot of people think that the construction topic as a whole is relatively easy to understand but the construction depth exam is deceivingly hard. A lot of people do it because it's not super discipline specific. But the truth is that it goes into every single discipline. A lot of problems are very hard, I'm not going to say they're tricky, but they're worded difficult. They're just harder problems to solve, a little more wordy. You gotta watch out for that. A lot of people think that construction depth exam is the easiest one to take and it's not. So it's not the most popular one as I'll go through this, but it does have the lowest percentage for people that passed it the first time. So just be aware of that.
New Speaker (17:21): Next one up here is geotech. There were 1048 people that took the geotechnical depth exam and the pass rate was 63% for first time takers. If you're a repeat taker, there were 747 of you and it dropped all the way down to 34%. If you took civil structural, there were 2,978 people. That was the third most popular exam. There was a 62% pass rate for first time test takers in civil structural. If you were repeat taker, it dropped down to 43%. In transportation, there were 3,131 first time test takers and the pass rate was 63%. If you're a repeat taker, the pass rate dropped all the way down to 41%.
New Speaker (18:13): Water resources was the most popular exam that was taken in 2019. Would you guys ever guess that? I wouldn't have guessed that. I would have guessed transportation. Typically that's really high. A lot of people like transportation just because a lot of the answers come right out of the standards that you're bringing with you. That's why I think that's a very popular exam. There's also a lot of transportation engineers in general. So anyway, water resources is a good one to take too because it doesn't require any standards to take. So you're not going to have to bring in volumes of books. That is the most popular exam at 3,241 people for first time test takers and the pass rate was 66%, which is the best pass rate for all of those. As a repeat taker, it dropped down to 41%.
New Speaker (19:03): So what are the takeaways here? I think the takeaway here is that if you are a first time test taker, water resources is your very best possible chance of passing the PE exam. So make sure you're giving it your all. If you are trying to study for the PE exam, that's just the truth. Take a course, get material, get your books in order, set a schedule, get everything you need to do, get ready to roll. Like I said, if you need a course, go check out the one we created and that's at civilpereviewcourse.com. Go check it out. Yeah, water resources, is the winner there.
New Speaker (19:45): Let's dive more into this report here a little bit. They have so many PE people now, it's crazy. I'm sure that's going to expand. It's just growing like crazy with the offerings that they have. You got everything from fire protection down to software and petroleum and naval architecture. So, yeah, all kinds of people. The lowest amount of test takers looks to be in software. That must be a growing industry to get your PE in software. I'm wondering why people get it if they are in software, what that says, what that does for you. There were 16 first time test takers. If you're a software guy, I am interested why you took it. It must be good on your resume for sure.
New Speaker (20:39): I'm diving more into the report. They break into PE pass rates versus experience. If you have between zero and five years of experience, your pass rates are actually pretty low. What this looks like is a bell curve, with the highest possible chance of passing the exam of five years of experience. So this falls in line with what individual states usually require, which is four years of working experience before you can take or receive your PE license. But based on what they're showing, it matches that. If you have five years of experience, you have your highest possible chance of passing.
Isaac (21:31): The other thing that's interesting about this little bell curve is that if you have 11 plus years of experience, your pass rate jumps all the way up to as if you had five years of experience. I think people with 11 plus years of experience are studying harder for this thing or starting just as much as those that had five years of experience because it shoots way up. That's interesting, definitely check that one out.
New Speaker (22:06): The next thing they break down is the PE structural pass rates. The SE exam, if you don't know, is the professional engineering exam designed for engineers who practice in jurisdictions that license structural engineers separately from other professional engineers. This particular exam is a 16 hour exam and it's broken up into two different exams. They separate it into vertical and lateral components to test and examine these abilities to safely design buildings or bridges. You have four different categories here. You have structural lateral forces with bridges, you have structural lateral forces with buildings. You have structural vertical forces with bridges and structural vertical forces with buildings. And that's a mouthful.
New Speaker (23:00): The volume of this is pretty low for overall test takers. The majority of people are doing buildings. If you took lateral bridges, there were 75 first time takers and the pass rate was only 21%, repeat takers dropped to 33%. So a little higher. These are interesting because they actually go up as a repeat taker. For structural lateral forces buildings you had 519, that's the most popular. That went to 38% for first time taker, a repeat taker dropped to 32%. For structural vertical force bridges, first time takers was 83 of you and that was at a 35% pass rate and it went up to 43% as a repeat taker. The majority of people are taking the building exam. For structural vertical forces, there were 623 people. First time takers was 42% and then it dropped as a repeat taker at 28%. So that was one that dropped as repeat takers. A lot of information, a lot of data. Hopefully this isn't boring you, but I do find it interesting going through these numbers, like how many people took it, what were the pass rates? I think those are eye opening, especially if you're taking one of these exams.
Isaac (24:35): Another interesting fact is that the average age of examinees by exam type. If I were to ask you what the average age is for those taking the PE, let's start with the structural exam, what would you guess? I would not guess this. The average age is about 36 years old and for those that take the PE exam, the average age looks to be 33. For the FE exam, I thought this would be much younger, but the average age looks to be 27 years old. That's crazy to me. In my mind, I thought the average ages would be a lot younger, but they're actually older. So we're older when taking these exams and that's the breakdown for that guy. I'm not going to get into FS pass rates or surveying pass rates. You can go check those out if you are interested in that.
Isaac (25:34): They break down a lot of the information for people that want NCEES record and have your PE license and trying to get licenses in other states. They talk about that. I'm talking about more mobility for licensure. They're trying to advance mobility by performing more uniform national exams, model laws and rules. With the records program, they're trying to do a better job at that and they break down the number of transmitables per record holder. So that's kind of interesting. Go check that out. Another interesting fact is they break down the countries by number of credentials, per applicant, the top 10. These are the different countries outside of the U.S. of students that are taking the PE exam and becoming a licensed engineer.
New Speaker (26:35): Administered internationally, there were 2,334 FE exam test takers. That's pretty cool. There were 570 PE exam test takers. So that's very interesting to me. I know a lot of people in our audience are international and they're always questioning how they register for this exam or if their experience or the college that they attended can count towards this and it can. So just breaking it down. They say that the US licensing boards generally require licensed candidates with degrees from non ABET accredited programs to have their education evaluated. So you do have to go through that when you're applying. Most of these candidates are from other countries and the credential evaluation basically provides a valuable service to help boards ensure that candidates are qualified academically for licensure. They're not just going to let anybody take this exam. They have to compare what you've done if you are international to what an ABET school does and see if those things match up.
Isaac (27:48): The report also states that as the number of ABET accredited programs outside the U.S. has increased in recent years so has interest in these exams. Currently with this exam, they have agreements with foreign entities in Canada, Egypt, the Emirate of Sharjah, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey. That's crazy. It's all over the place now. So your top 10 countries, here you go, top 10 countries are India 475 people, Egypt, 246 people, China 225 people. Then it goes South Korea, Iran, Philippines, United States (I guess these are people with international degrees here in the U.S.), Canada, Iraq and Jordan. So that's your top 10. Pretty interesting stuff. I think that's crazy. That's cool. So the whole thing is getting a little more international as well.
New Speaker (28:52): Licensure in general. If I were to say where you're from and what state you're from, and could you tell me how many PE licenses you had there or how many engineers you have there. So they break all this down in the report. I'm not going to dive into all 50 States. I'll just hit some of the highlights. You can dive in there and check it out yourself. Just go read the report. It looks to me that the highest number of engineers, at least that I can see, maybe I'm blind here, is Texas. You've got 38,237 resident, 20,062 non-resident in Texas. Wow. A lot of engineers.
Isaac (30:03): This report breaks down engineers, surveyors, and engineers and surveyors with a dual license. They track down how many people are in your state that are engineers, how many are resident and non-resident. That's a lot of interesting stats. They also break down engineering licenses by year. So it's grown. In 1937, there were almost 47,000 engineering licenses and we're going to jump all the way to let's say year 2000. There were 669,000 licenses. Wow. And then they track all the way up to 2004. There were 750,000 licenses in 2004 and it just continues to grow, crazy. They break up surveying licenses as well. That's pretty much the whole report. It's a really neat report. It gives a lot of data, something that you should definitely go check out. Hopefully this was insightful to you as it was for me. It lets me know things like the average age of people taking exams, the pass rates, how many engineers are out there in the states and how many international people are actually taking this exam.
Isaac (31:19): I really do enjoy these reports. It's really a fun report that they do. Like I said, it's graphically visually pleasing to the eye. There is a lot of data and a lot of good information. So hopefully this was insightful to you as it was for me. Hopefully if you haven't earned your FE license or haven't got your EIT, go check out the course we've built for you to pass that. It's the Ultimate Civil FE Review Course and that's at civilfereviewcourse.com. If you need your PE license, go get the course we built for that, the Ultimate Civil PE Review Course and that's at civilpereviewcourse.com. It's good stuff there too. So if you're looking to pass the FE or you're looking to pass the PE, there's going to be something that we have for you.
Isaac (32:11): We also have tons of resources for you at civilengineeringacademy.com. You can go get practice exams. We've got free problems on YouTube if you just need to practice tons of problems. We're always putting more on there, as much as we can, we obviously have more in the course, but we want to definitely keep YouTube going and keeping problems on there for people.
New Speaker (32:32): Hope you enjoyed this and if you haven't checked it out, go to NCEES.org and go grab the report, check out those numbers because I do think they're interesting. Anyway, we will see you on the next one. Bye.
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