How to Become a Construction Engineer in California

Construction site scaffolding and cranes

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Working on buildings of the future is a dream for many. But how do you go about becoming a construction engineer in California? And how do you find work as one? We’ll explain the essentials here. 

Why California Needs Engineers

The Golden State is the most populous American state, and that population is growing faster. The need for new building projects to house this population and give them a place to work, shop, and entertain themselves is significant.

In particular, the major cities of San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, and Los Angeles have a large need for new workers in the construction industry. This makes the state an excellent place to undertake an engineering career.

An Education for Construction Engineering 

To work in construction and civil engineering in California, a good first step is to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in civil engineering (or another engineering related field). 

Certain businesses may look more favorably on your job application if you also have a masters in engineering and/or a professional engineering license. Becoming licensed as a professional engineer is a well-earned honor, as well as an indication to employers and clients of the skills you bring to your work.

Construction Engineering Licensing in California 

While becoming a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) isn’t a requirement or needed for every engineering job, it generally allows for faster career advancement and a higher salary. 

Moreover, if you want to directly sell your services in the state of California, operate your own engineering firm, or bid for contracts, you must be a licensed PE. Attempting to sell your services or bid for contracts without this license is illegal. Though the specific requirements for licensure can differ from state to state, licensure candidates follow the same basic steps throughout the United States and its territories.

The first step in becoming licensed as a PE in California is to register for and take the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE exam). After passing the FE exam, you can apply to get your engineer-in-training (EIT) certification. In California, to get this certification you need to show you have three or more years of engineering-related work experience, have a clean background, and pass the FE exam. Achieving EIT status signals you have mastered the fundamental requirements and taken the first step toward earning your PE licensure.

Once you obtain the EIT certification, all states require that candidates complete four years of qualifying engineering experience, typically under the supervision of a professional engineer. Once complete, the final step in obtaining licensure is successfully completing the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam in your state. 

Note that each state (as well as the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories) has its own licensure board, administering its own exam and required qualifications. To find out more about your state’s licensure requirements, visit the website of your state licensing board state-by-state summary.

To speed up the process, check if any engineering work you did while taking your education counts toward the years of experience requirement. Often, engineering work done at American schools will count for this six-year requirement. Foreign education may be capped for how much it can count. 

Note that if you specifically want to become a civil engineer in California, you’ll also need to pass the California Civil exams. You can also get specific licensing if your work experience is specialized (e.g., structural engineering). 

Becoming a licensed professional engineer in California is a long and expensive process, but is a worthwhile endeavor if you aspire to lead projects, run an engineering division, or own your own engineering company. By working with a staffing agency that has partnerships with many prominent firms in the AEC industry, you can be ensured you’ll gain access to a robust database of jobs in the environmental services space. 

Our Certis project coordinators will work alongside you to help you access job opportunities for numerous desirable projects with dynamic companies. Certis Solutions is here to help you connect with the jobs you need to make the most of your career. 

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