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Topics and Section descriptions for the NCEES Software Engineering PE Exam.

I’m just learning about this. As I understand it, it is currently being used to formally license Software Engineers in the US. The methodology is described in this (paywalled) paper from “Software Quality Professional” magazine: A Principles and Practices Exam Specification to Support Software Engineering Licensure in the USA

It appears to be part of the larger “Professional Engineer” licensure process, which includes passing a “Fundamentals of Engineering” exam, much of which would seem inapplicable to practicing software engineers. The PE license has obvious benefits for other engineering disciplines - you have to be a PE before you can legally bid for government contracts or offer services to the public - but it’s not clear to me who would want to bother with the software part.

It would appear that I’m not the only one - according to the PE Exam site, 15 people took the exam in April 2014 (10 passed). Similarly, the Electrical and Computer subject exam had 26 takers. In comparison, Civil Engineering subjects had many hundreds.


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    I was an electrical engineering major in the US, so this PE exam was mentioned to us in school. As you say, it’s main value is for disciplines like civil engineering, where licensing can be a requirement for certain things.

    I’ve never heard of the PE license being required for software engineering, so as you can see, almost no one takes the exam. Other than being able to claim they passed the test, I am not sure why anyone would either.