It's no secret that engineering groups are trying to figure out how to entice more engineers to become professionally certified. Notwithstanding all the midnight oil that must be burned to prepare for the punishing 8-hour exam, some states—which are free to set their own rules and fees—may be spoiling the pot with their mercenary ways. Case in point: Stephen Austin, an R&D Manager at Gerber Technology in Tolland, CT, says that the State of Connecticut is essentially holding his PE license for ransom. He passed the exam in 1987, when the annual renewal charge was $50. Shortly thereafter, he says that a budget shortfall prompted the state to raise the annual fee by a factor of five. Having moved from the state, Austin refused to renew his license. Upon returning to Connecticut, he inquired about reactivating it. He was advised that in order for the reinstatement to be considered, all back license fees must be paid. "Although I have a certificate that I passed the exam, and maintained my credentials through continuing education and seminars, the reinstatement of my license and legal recognition as a Professional Engineer is subject to the payment of all back fees—which amounts to thousands of dollars," complains Austin. So far, he's not paying. His advice to engineers: Be aware that states can change rules (and fees) at will.
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