I was recently awarded an Engineer in Training, or EIT, certification, and I cannot be more proud – and more relieved! Looking back, I realize that I had a lot of preconceived notions about the exam and the engineering field in general, and so I am writing this article to provide insight into what I’ve learned along the way so far. Hopefully, this will help to dispel some common misconceptions and encourage other women to give serious thought about entering this rewarding and fulfilling career.
I have had a slightly roundabout path to my current energy engineering job and getting my EIT certification. I graduated from UCLA with a BS degree in Environmental Science and then worked for a local government organization that supported cities with various environmental programs for almost four years. Environmental work and sustainability were always my first passion, but while working on a wide range of programs, I was able to discover another interest in the energy field.
That is when I decided to go back to school in order to pursue a career in energy engineering. I had always been intimidated by the engineering field, which is why, even though I have always enjoyed math and analytical problem solving, I did not go into engineering during my undergraduate studies. The little exposure I had to engineering gave me the perspective that it is a very competitive, male-dominated field. However, after gaining more experience, I realized that energy engineering was a perfect fit for me. It was a good mix of using my analytical skills while still relevant to my original interest in the sustainability field. A couple of years later, I graduated with an MS degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on Energy from Stanford University.
All of this led me to where I am now, working as an energy engineer for a little over a year and successfully obtaining my EIT certification.
“Getting your EIT certification may seem like a daunting task, but I encourage anyone who is serious about a career in engineering to consider it.”
The EIT Certification
First, what is the EIT certification, and why did I want to get it? EIT stands for Engineer in Training. It is also known as EI, or Engineer Intern, depending on the state. I decided to get the certification because it is the first step to obtaining a Professional Engineer License (PE). It also never hurts to have this certification on your resume for those of you who are applying for jobs. The EIT shows you are serious about engineering and advancing your career.
Who can get the EIT?
You must check your state’s official requirements! The requirements depend on your state engineering licensing board. For California, you must have at least three years of postsecondary engineering education, engineering work experience, or a combination of both. I used my two years of my engineering master’s program plus one year of work experience. Check out the NCEES website for your state engineering board’s requirements: https://ncees.org/engineering.
How Do You Get The EIT?
You must first register on the NCEES website. This is where you will schedule your Fundamentals of Engineering exam. Then you will study and take the FE exam. Lastly, you will submit an application to your state’s engineering licensing board. Again, for the exact instructions, be sure to check your state’s website.
The process sounds straightforward enough, but, of course, the most difficult part is passing the FE exam. To pass the exam, I really needed to dedicate a lot of time and effort. The FE exam covers a wide range of subject matters that are relevant to most courses taken by a student pursuing a 4-year engineering degree. Since I did not graduate with an engineering degree in undergrad, I had only taken a couple of the traditional engineering courses, and it has been many years since then. So, I had to learn and relearn a lot of material. That being said, I strongly recommend that you take the FE exam while in school, or soon after, if you can. I purchased an online review course as well as a couple of practice problem books. I found doing many, many practice problems was the best way for me to understand the material. Find the best study strategies that work for you, whether it’s taking a live course, an online course, reading review books, or going through practice problems. Fortunately, the FE exam is offered year-round, so you are able to schedule your exam at a time that works best for you.
“Although there are still gender differences, I am seeing the field becoming more diverse, so don’t be discouraged by this.”
Other Things I Learned
Here are a few things I learned from the process that may be helpful:
- Make sure you understand all requirements for obtaining your EIT from your state engineering board before starting the process.
- Schedule time to dedicate to studying for the FE exam.
- While studying, become very familiar with the given reference guide and do lots and lots of practice problems.
- Do some online research. There are a lot of helpful forums and websites that have useful tips and tricks to help you study. Here are just a few examples:
- “How to Study For – and Pass – the NCEES FE Exam” – PPI2Pass
- “How to Study for the Mechanical FE Exam” – Engineering Pro Guides
- “What is the FE Exam? 3 Top Tips for Your Prep” – PrepScholar
- “Frequently Asked Questions” – PrepFE
Note: Some of these sites offer, or link to, for-fee resources at the time of this writing. Be sure to take time to figure out which is right for you before starting any program. We are not affiliated with, nor do we endorse any of these sites.
- Reach out to colleagues who have been through the process recently. Since the EIT certification is common for engineers to obtain, it is likely that you can find someone to ask for more insight into the exam and certification process.
- Lastly, don’t be intimidated. This goes for the exam but also the engineering field in general. Looking back, I wish I wasn’t so hesitant to go into engineering and found my way into the energy engineering field earlier. So, if you’re interested in the field but feel unsure, I highly encourage you to take the leap and pursue your interest! This includes young girls who may be intimidated by the male-dominated field. Although there are still gender differences, I am seeing the field becoming more diverse, so don’t be discouraged by this.
Getting your EIT certification may seem like a daunting task, but I encourage anyone who is serious about a career in engineering to consider it. Even if you don’t have a traditional BS degree in engineering or have been out of school for a while and haven’t had to study for years, it is worthwhile; and you can do it!
For those of you who are just starting out in the field and want some advice on how to get a job in energy engineering, check out this article from a colleague.