Civil Engineers

Elizabeth Tomlinson  |  5/23/2008 10:25:57 PM

Civil engineers are concerned with the design, construction and maintenance of an altered physical or natural man-made environment. For instance, civil engineers may design bridges, roads, dams and buildings. Civil engineering covers a broad spectrum of engineering, and generally, civil engineers are known by the specialty area in which they practice, such as structural engineering or environmental engineering. Civil engineers work on projects involving residential, commercial, industrial and/or public works issues.

For what specific tasks would you seek the services of someone in this profession?

Many types of civil engineers ho could be useful to you in your residential project. These include structural, environmental, geotechnical and construction engineers. There are also general civil engineers, sometimes called “site engineers.”

Civil engineers can help you with any drainage or grading issues you may have on your property. You may hire a civil engineer if you suspect water or air pollution problems. A civil engineer can design the best and safest way to elevate your house and help design your new house to withstand certain wind speeds. These engineers also can advise you on ways to protect your existing home from the natural hazards in our area.

What licenses and certifications are available in this profession, and what requirements are needed to obtain these?

The Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board issues an Engineering Intern Certificate (E.I.C.) and a Professional Engineer license (P.E.). Specialty post-licensure certifications can be obtained for engineers who pursue advanced knowledge and skills in a specialty area. These certifications are issued through specialty-area professional organizations that have been accredited by either The American Standards Institute (ANSI) or The Council of Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards (CESB). Licenses must be reviewed every two years, and continuing education credit is needed. A total of 30 professional development hours (PDH) are required to obtain a license renewal.

Before becoming a licensed professional engineer, an applicant must first obtain an Engineering Intern Certificate (E.I.C.). Requirements for applying for the E.I.C. include graduation from an EAC-ABET (Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accredited engineering program (there are some allowable substitutions, but all require graduation from a four-year program), the recommendation for certification from a licensed professional engineer and successful passage of the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.

A further four years of experience, recommendation from five sources and passing the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam (in the engineering area in which they will practice) are required in order to obtain a P.E. license.

How can a consumer verify that an engineer has the license he/she alleges to have?

The consumer can visit the Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board Web site at http://www.lapels.com/ for a roster of licensed individuals and firms or call the board at 225-925-6291.

What license is required in Louisiana to do what type of work?

An engineer with an E.I.C. can practice under the supervision of a licensed P.E.; otherwise, a licensed professional engineer is required for civil engineering work. A Louisiana licensed professional engineer may also check, analyze and approve plans of out-of-state licensed engineers or standard design plans prepared by a licensed engineer. A valid Louisiana P.E. license is required for an engineer to certify single-family residential design plans.

Out-of-state licensed professional engineers who have obtained a temporary permit for practice in Louisiana can practice without the need for a Louisiana licensed P.E. to certify his/her work.

What is the typical pay basis for this profession and what is the typical cost?

Fees for professional civil engineering services are based on the type and complexity of work to be performed. Ordinarily, a client pays either a fixed fee or pays for the time and expenses of the engineer to perform services specified by the client.

How does a person become a civil engineer?

As mentioned earlier, an aspiring civil engineer must first graduate from an accredited four-year engineering program. If an engineering degree is not from an accredited program, the program must be approved by the that does have an accredited undergraduate program or four years verifiable engineering experience obtained after graduation that is satisfactory to the Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board.

After having met one of these requirements, each applicant must obtain a recommendation from an engineer holding a valid P.E. license to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. Once an applicant has passed this exam, he/she will receive his/her Engineer Intern Certification. At this point, the applicant can begin the four years of engineering work experience under a licensed P.E. required to apply to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

Application for the P.E. also requires five personal references, three of whom must be licensed and familiar with the engineering work of the applicant. Following successful completion of the P.E. exam in the specialty area in which the applicant will practice, the engineer will then receive a Professional Engineer License.

How does a civil engineer who is licensed or certified for providing service in another state get authorization to provide services in Louisiana?

A civil engineer who is licensed in another state and neither lives in nor practices in Louisiana may apply to the board for a written temporary permit to practice engineering in Louisiana. The qualifications and requirements of the license this engineer holds in his/her own state must be at least as high as those in Louisiana. This temporary permit allows for only 120 consecutive days of practice on a specific project in any one year. There is a fee to obtain this permit.

For a Louisiana license, a professional civil engineer licensed in another state whose qualifications and requirements for licensure are at least as high as those in Louisiana and who provides documentation of successful completion of all Louisiana P.E. license requirements can apply for licensure as a professional engineer.

All plans, reports, working drawings, specifications and other civil engineering documents prepared by an out-of-state licensed engineer for work in Louisiana who has not received a temporary permit or Louisiana P.E. license must be approved and certified by a Louisiana-licensed professional engineer. The Louisiana civil engineer then assumes responsibility and liability for these documents.

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