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Alumni Answers: Should I get an engineering license?

Alumni Answers: Should I get an engineering license?

Dear Michael,

Did you obtain engineering license, and if so, did you find it necessary? Did you join any engineering clubs? (Maurice)

Michael H. (BS Physics, 2015), Research Engineer at Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories

The specific field of engineering you decide to pursue will play a significant role in determining whether professional licensure is necessary or even useful. I will admit up front that I am a fairly green professional, and that any more senior advisory panel member who says differently from me should probably be given more credence; but as I understand it, an engineering license is only required if you wish to be the “final authority” to sign and certify the design and plans for any project funded for the use of the public – buildings and bridges, for instance. For this reason, civil engineers are usually the ones who find it useful to hold an engineering license. (You can still work as a civil engineer without holding an engineering license, you just can’t be the final authority to sign off on any plans that fall into the “for public use/benefit” category. I do not completely understand the delineation for “public use,” but it is not just as simple as “will a lot of people use it.” I expect that further investigation beyond that which I can provide will be helpful here.)

I am in electrical engineering, and I do not hold a license nor do I anticipate pursuing one. It is true that an EE who works on, say, a city’s power supply grid would likely benefit from having a license, but my work is at the microchip scale and therefore does not fall within that scope.
So, the simplified answer is: if you are not a civil engineer and do not wish to work on city-scale projects, very likely will not find an engineering license to be useful. If you do become a civil engineer, you *may* need one, and the it would be worthwhile to consult a professional in that engineering sub-field specifically.


Cheers to you, your continuing education, and your success in the field of your chosen profession!
Alumni Answers: Transition From Physics to Engineering (Beemnet, Physics 2020)

Alumni Answers: Transition From Physics to Engineering (Beemnet, Physics 2020)

Dear Zofia,

Hello! I was wandering what you think of the transition from pure Physics to Engineering studies. Do you think it is better to seek out for engineering experiences while at UD? Thank you, Beemnet (Physics 2020)


Hello Beemnet,

I absolutely think seeking out engineering while at UD would be great if that’s the direction you want to go. I think networking with engineers (try going to local events, you can find them on LinkedIn) can be very helpful. I also suggest working to learn relevant skills (such as proficiency in a CAD program and using micro-controllers such as Arduino). If you can find an engineering internship you will be really well off.

I chose to go to grad school afterwards because I didn’t know I wanted to do engineering until after UD. However, I was able to get an engineering internship the summer before grad school. I could have just continued to try to find work related to engineering, and might have even been better off that way. In engineering, often having practical experience is more valuable than schooling. Personally, grad school was not as useful to me as I would have hoped.

There are also companies that have programs for people with science backgrounds to transition to engineering. My company, National Instruments, will take physics grads (among other engineering disciplines) and give them the training and work experience to transition to R&D, systems engineering, marketing, and sales. I don’t personally know of other companies that do this, but I’m sure there are similar positions out there. If you are interested in National Instruments, please let me know.

Getting internships while in school would be the best possible thing you could do, though it can be tough to find them. This was something I didn’t do enough, and proved to make my job search much harder.

I hope that helps. Please feel free to ask any follow up questions.

Zofia K. (BS Physics, 2012), ELP Engineer at National Instruments