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Career Paths and Course Plans
Multiple career pathways are available to assist you with your selection of BSE, engineering topics, and technical electives, depending on your ultimate career interests:
Checksheets define the requirements to earn a degree at Virginia Tech. Students must complete the requirements specified on the checksheet for the calendar year in which they are going to graduate. The checksheets also include the list of approved BSE, chemistry, engineering, and technical electives.
If the checksheet for the year in which you would graduate is not posted, the latest checksheet will give you a good idea of the requirements; typically, only minor changes occur from year to year.
Engineering students who are within 12 months of graduating are eligible to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam, which is offered multiple times per year. Passing the FE exam is the first step in becoming a licensed professional engineer. Some employers may require that their engineers become licensed, especially those who work with projects involving public safety.
Per the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), most states recognize the Engineer in Training (EIT) certificates from other states (which are awarded once you pass the FE exam and graduate from an accredited engineering curriculum).
If you are not sure if you will need to become licensed for your future career, we strongly recommend you to take the FE exam during your senior year. The exam is based on material from your undergraduate courses and BSE students have a very high pass rate (about 90% of our students pass the exam on their first attempt). If you wait until after you graduate to take the FE exam, it is likely that you will need to spend more time studying to prepare for the exam. That exam is now online only and is administered by an outside testing service. You can find more information on the exam on the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying website and the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation website.
Virginia Tech offers a 2 credit, online, pass/fail review course for the FE exam, ESM4404, Fundamentals of Professional Engineering, which is offered during the spring semester. These credits will NOT count towards your engineering degree, as the course duplicates material you should have learned in other courses.
To become a “registered professional engineer” (which means you can “stamp” design drawings, testify in court, and own your own consulting firm), students take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, work for a specified number of years as an Engineer in Training (EIT) and then take the Professional Engineering (PE) exam for the state in which you wish to be licensed. Assuming you pass both exams, you get to put “P.E.” after your name, be legally libel, and make more money. Both exams are 8 hours.
Professional registration is not required for all fields of engineering; however, licensure is important for BSE students who focus on watershed science and engineering or public health engineering. Regardless of your focus area, all BSE students are encouraged to take the FE exam during or immediately after their senior year, as it is a notable professional accomplishment and is easier to complete when the material is relatively fresh. BSE students typically take the CE - Environmental Engineering, CE - Water Resources Engineering, Chemical Engineering, or Other - General tests. Students should review the material covered on each of these tests to determine which test they should take. You can find exam prep material here.
To make an appointment with the BSE Academic Advisor, log into the Student Success Platform here.