The indispensable value of a P.E. license for entrepreneurs

May 24, 2023, 3:00PMANS NewsArielle Miller

Arielle Miller

In the world of engineering, obtaining a Professional Engineering (P.E.) license is often seen as a significant milestone. The journey toward earning this esteemed credential can be arduous and time-consuming, involving rigorous exams, licensing applications, and recommendations from licensed professionals. However, many young engineers question the practicality of obtaining a P.E. license, especially when starting their own business. This article explores the importance of having a P.E. license when venturing into entrepreneurship and how it can benefit engineers in their professional journey.

For aspiring entrepreneurs in engineering, acquiring a P.E. license early in their careers can be a strategic move. Working for an established company allows young engineers to take advantage of opportunities like employer-funded preparation courses and financial assistance for licensing and exam fees. By investing time and effort into obtaining a P.E. license during the early-career stage, engineers position themselves for future success in their entrepreneurial endeavors.

A P.E. license serves as a testament to an engineer’s competence and professionalism. It demonstrates a commitment to upholding ethical standards and meeting legal requirements in engineering practices. Beyond the initial step of securing employment, having a P.E. license can open doors to promotions and higher positions within companies. It highlights an engineer’s dedication to professional growth and sets them apart from their peers, ultimately enhancing their career trajectory.

When the time comes to embark on an entrepreneurial journey, the value of a P.E. license becomes even more apparent. Starting a business requires careful planning and a solid foundation of expertise. Licensed professional engineers gain validation for their qualifications and added credibility in the eyes of potential clients and investors. Licensure signifies that they possess the necessary technical knowledge, skills, and experience to deliver high-quality engineering services.

Entrepreneurs in the engineering industry must secure appropriate business insurance coverage. Obtaining a P.E. license is often a prerequisite for acquiring professional liability (errors & omissions) insurance and general liability insurance. Insurance providers require proof of licensure to ensure that the entrepreneur is qualified and competent to perform the services they are requesting to be insured against. Additionally, state and federal certifying agencies for small businesses may also demand a P.E. license as part of the certification process.

Various states require engineering firms to be permitted to practice engineering. To obtain this permit, members with percentage ownership within the firm must hold a P.E. license. When starting a business, having a P.E. license becomes instrumental in fulfilling these legal requirements. It not only paves the way for obtaining necessary permits and certifications but also assures regulatory bodies and clients that the entrepreneur possesses the technical expertise needed to deliver engineering services safely, effectively, and ethically.

As an entrepreneur who has experienced the benefits firsthand, I can confidently affirm the significance of obtaining a P.E. license. As I reflect on my journey, I am grateful that I made the decision to pursue this credential 14 years ago, despite skepticism from others who believed it was unnecessary for my field of nuclear engineering. Throughout my career, my P.E. license has played a pivotal role in securing promotions, salary advancements, and desirable job opportunities. Most importantly, it has empowered me to venture into entrepreneurship and start a successful business in the engineering domain.

While the process of obtaining a P.E. license requires dedication and perseverance, the long-term rewards outweigh the challenges. As an engineer embarks on the entrepreneurial path, this credential will be a tangible symbol of their commitment to excellence and their ability to deliver exceptional engineering services. A P.E. license enhances professional credibility, facilitates career growth, establishes trust with clients, supports insurance applications, and fulfills legal and certification requirements. Engineers who obtain their P.E. license lay a solid foundation for success as entrepreneurs and gain a competitive edge in the engineering industry. So, embrace the journey, invest in your professional growth, and equip yourself with a P.E. license – a credential that will elevate your career, empower your entrepreneurial aspirations, and position you as a respected leader in the field of engineering.

For more information on preparing for the nuclear P.E. exam, or to explore study aids from the American Nuclear Society, visit

Arielle Miller, Ph.D., P.E., is a nuclear engineer, mechanical engineering researcher, cofounder of the nonprofit MGAM Scholarship Foundation, and founder of Dr. Arielle Miller Coaching and Consulting. She is an active ANS member who serves on the Society’s Professional Engineering Examination Committee.

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