Q: Is it required by law to have a P.E. before one can do consulting work? Or is it just required for opening one's own consultancy?
A: -In general, the Consumer Affairs division of the State government requires anyone calling themselves an "engineer" or anyone offering "engineering" in any form to have a license to do so, i.e. P.E. The only exception to this is if the engineer is working for a manufacturing company. Anyone working for a manufacturing company is exempt from this law. But the minute they start working for themselves, or a consulting firm, and they continue to offer engineering, they must have a license. The only reason you will find people breaking this law is that the State doesn't provide adequate resources to prosecute the offenders. As a result, the Board of Engineers usually chooses to focus on construction type engineering, since that is where the most harm to the public can occur from abuse and unlicensed engineering. -I am registered in several states and am of the general opinion that registration is required if you wish to offer services to the public. I suggest you check out the website of the state you are interested in practicing in... they should be able to give more accurate info.
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