Is there any reason for an electronics engineer to go for a professional engineering (PE) license? My understanding is that becoming a PE is only useful/necessary for architectural electrical engineering, due to government regulations. Is this correct, or is there any reason that an embedded electronics hardware/software engineer should become a PE? Also, would this even be possible, as getting a PE usually means years of experience under an existing PE, whom only seem to be working for architectural firms?

One of the main reasons I'm asking is because I was thinking of registering a company name for contract electrical engineering work and I'm wondering if I can even call myself an engineer (legally). Maybe I should call myself an electronic product designer? Anyone own a contracting business have any insight here?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/6615/… \$\endgroup\$
    – pfyon
    Apr 30, 2011 at 16:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ And to add my comment, depending on where you work, you may or may not be legally allowed to call yourself an engineer without being a P.Eng. \$\endgroup\$
    – pfyon
    Apr 30, 2011 at 16:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, and I find your second point extremely annoying. My limited exposure to Architectural electrical engineering is that it is barely engineering. It is basically following rules. Apparently, the government thinks this is engineering while designing a computer isn't. But, it seems like everyone knows this so it may not be a big deal. I know there are plenty of contract engineers out there who may not be PEs, so I'm basically wondering what they call themselves, or if my perspective of what a PE is (or its value) is completely wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – bt2
    Apr 30, 2011 at 17:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ In what country? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2011 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @pfyon dead link!!! \$\endgroup\$ May 5, 2018 at 3:37

1 Answer 1


In Florida it is illegal to use the term 'Engineer' or derivatives in a business name if there are no licensed professional engineers working there. There may be restrictions on using the term even if the number of licensed engineers working there is not zero, but if there are zero you can't use it.

Realistically, there's no reason to call yourself an 'engineer'. At least in the US, because of restrictions similar to the one above the term 'Engineering Services' or similar is limited mainly to the architectural firms you mentioned. The term is co-opted. Just call yourself a consumer electronics designer, embedded software developer, analog electronics designer, digital designer or whatever is more specific to your case.

As for whether it would ever be worth it for an electronics engineer I've found the answer is generally no. I've worked for several different companies in different fields and no one even gave it a thought. It wasn't expected, it wasn't sought and there wouldn't be talk of a raise or anything if you did get one.

I only ever really hear of two types of electrical/electronics/embedded engineers getting the PE: engineers who have years of experience in a variety of areas and had a specific need in mind when getting it and confused new graduates who have been talking to their uncle who's a civil engineer.

Edit: After skulking around on Wikipedia for a bit I've unearthed some information that is interesting but doesn't change my original answer. That is, this information applies only to other circumstances.

It seems that the restriction on using the term 'engineer' is more directed towards not being allowed to offer the public 'engineering services' unless you or your company is licensed. Thus saying 'Hi Bill, I'm Fred and I'd like to offer you engineering services in exchange for money - here's my card' means you need to be a professional engineer. If you're just a shmo who works for a company you can put 'engineer' on your business card because you're not offering any services to the public - your company is doing the offering and hopefully they have this mess sorted out for themselves.

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    \$\begingroup\$ and those that live in states where your business card cannot say engineer without it. Yes, there are always other names you can use, but some of us like the term engineer. Otherwise, I agree with the rest. Almost every state requires you are licensed or certified engineering company to place engineer in your name. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    May 1, 2011 at 10:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk - I hadn't heard the business card thing. Maybe it's not a thing in Florida because my last job (big, major corporation who probably had actual PEs working for it) put 'Controls Engineer' on the card and no one seemed to care. Not that I got much use out of those cards... \$\endgroup\$
    – AngryEE
    May 1, 2011 at 12:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another context in which a P.E. license may come up for EE's is if you ever do any consulting in a legal setting or serve as an expert witness. Without a P.E., the opposing party is likely to target you as "unqualified", however ridiculous that may sound. \$\endgroup\$
    – cardinal
    May 1, 2011 at 19:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Will you need this for promotions when working at Tech giants? \$\endgroup\$ May 5, 2018 at 3:38

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