Human Resources and Security Specialists should use this tool to determine the correct investigation level for any covered position within the U.S. Federal Government.
Visit this federal site to search for our regulatory notices, proposed and final rules.
See the latest tweets on our Twitter feed, like our Facebook pages, watch our YouTube videos, and page through our Flickr photos.
Degree: professional engineering. To be acceptable, the curriculum must: (1) be in a school of engineering with at least one curriculum accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as a professional engineering curriculum; or (2) include differential and integral calculus and courses (more advanced than first-year physics and chemistry) in five of the following seven areas of engineering science or physics: (a) statics, dynamics; (b) strength of materials (stress-strain relationships); (c) fluid mechanics, hydraulics; (d) thermodynamics; (e) electrical fields and circuits; (f) nature and properties of materials (relating particle and aggregate structure to properties); and (g) any other comparable area of fundamental engineering science or physics, such as optics, heat transfer, soil mechanics, or electronics.
Combination of education and experience -- college-level education, training, and/or technical experience that furnished (1) a thorough knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying professional engineering, and (2) a good understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the engineering sciences and techniques and their applications to one of the branches of engineering. The adequacy of such background must be demonstrated by one of the following:
Professional registration -- Current registration as a professional engineer by any State, the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico. Absent other means of qualifying under this standard, those applicants who achieved such registration by means other than written test (e.g., State grandfather or eminence provisions) are eligible only for positions that are within or closely related to the specialty field of their registration. For example, an applicant who attains registration through a State Board's eminence provision as a manufacturing engineer typically would be rated eligible only for manufacturing engineering positions.
Written Test-- Evidence of having succesfully passed the Engineer-in-Training (EIT) examination, or the written test required for professional registration, which is administered by the Boards of Engineering Examiners in the various States, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
Applicants who have passed the EIT examination and have completed all the requirements for either (a) a bachelor's degree in engineering technology (BET) from an accredited college of university that included 60 semester hours of courses in the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences, or (b) a BET from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) may be rated eligible for certain engineering positions at GS-5. Eligibility is limited to positions that are within or closely related to the specialty field of the engineering technology program. Applicants for positions that involve highly technical research, development, or similar functions requiring an advanced level of competence in basic science must meet the basic requirements in paragraph A.
Because of the diversity in kind and quality of BET programs, graduates of other BET programs are required to complete at least 1 year of additional education or highly technical work experience of such nature as to provide reasonable assurance of the possession of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for professional engineering competence. The adequacy of this background must be demonstrated by passing the EIT examination.
Specified academic courses -- Successful completion of at least 60 semester hours of courses in the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences and in engineering that included the courses specified in the basic requirements. The courses must be fully acceptable toward meeting the requirements of a professional engineering curriculum as described in paragraph A.
Related curriculum -- Successful completion of a curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree in engineering technology or in an appropriate professional field, e.g., physics, chemistry, architecture, computer science, mathematics, hydrology, or geology, may be accepted in lieu of a degree in engineering, provided the applicant has had at least 1 year of professional engineering experience acquired under professional engineering supervision and guidance. Ordinarily there should be either an established plan of intensive training to develop professional engineering competence, or several years of prior professional engineering-type experience, e.g., in interdisciplinary positions. (The above examples of related curricula are not all-inclusive.)
An applicant who meets the basic requirements as specified in A or B above may qualify for positions in any branch of engineering unless selective factors indicate otherwise, or unless he/she qualifies under the provisions of B.2 related to the EIT examination or BET degree.
Back to top
Definition of Professional Engineering Experience: The professional engineering experience required for grades GS-7 and above is defined as nonroutine engineering work that required and was characterized by (1) professional knowledge of engineering; (2) professional ability to apply such knowledge to engineering problems; and (3) positive and continuing development of professional knowledge and ability.
Professional knowledge of engineering is defined as the comprehensive, indepth knowledge of mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences applicable to a specialty field of engineering that characterizes a full 4-year professional engineering curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree, or the equivalent.
Professional ability to apply engineering knowledge is defined as the ability to (a) apply fundamental and diversified professional engineering concepts, theories, and practices to achieve engineering objectives with versatility, judgment, and perception; (b) adapt and apply methods and techniques of related scientific disciplines; and (c) organize, analyze, interpret, and evaluate scientific data in the solution of engineering problems.
Professional work in engineering, like that in other professions, is marked by continuing personal effort to keep abreast of the advancing and changing discipline. Continuing education in engineering and related fields is an important element of full professional competence as an engineer that should be considered in evaluating the qualifications of applicants for professional engineering positions.
In some situations, experience may be creditable even if it is not clearly professional engineering work. In such cases, the experience must have been preceded by prior responsible professional engineering experience and must contribute directly and significantly to the applicant's engineering competence. For example, an engineer might be assigned to a management-type position in preparation for assumption of higher-level responsibilities in engineering project or program management.
Special Competence in Particular Areas of Engineering: Many engineering positions demand specific competence in a particular function or area. For such positions, agencies may use selective factors to identify those applicants whose records show evidence of the required capabilities. Such selective factors can be used for positions at all grade levels covered by this standard.
Engineering Registration: Registration as a professional engineer is an appropriate selective factor for appointment to certain, typically high-level, engineering positions. The key consideration is that registration must be essential for acceptable performance of the work of the position to be filled. Accordingly, it is an appropriate requirement for positions with duties and responsibilities that satisfy one of the following criteria:
When an engineering position has duties and responsibilities that would support a requirement for registration and a requirement is established, the position description should clearly document the basis for the requirement. It would be inappropriate to require that applicants be registered for positions with less responsibility than that indicated above, for positions that involve responsibilities and functions such as research and development, or for the sole purpose of improving the "image" of engineers in the Federal service. For those positions where registration is an appropriate requirement, such positions have been characteristically filled by registered professional engineers. If a currently filled position is newly identified as requiring a professional engineer, the requirement for registration should be waived for the duration of the employee's incumbency.
The Engineer-in-Training Test: The Engineer-in-Training (EIT) test is the first part of the professional registration examination for engineers in the various States. The EIT test is a test of engineering fundamentals generally taken by engineering school seniors or recent graduates. Those who pass are certified as Engineer-in-Training. The second part of the registration examination, covering practice in a branch of engineering, is taken after a specified period of experience required for registration as a professional engineer.
The EIT test is used under this standard to determine whether competitors without a degree in engineering or other qualifying education have a knowledge and understanding of mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences required to perform professional engineering work in a specialty field of engineering. This test is not to be considered as being in lieu of the requirement of at least 4 years of experience and/or education that might be regarded as providing such knowledge.
The EIT test is developed and administered by the State Board of Engineering Examiners in each State or comparable jurisdiction. The test is not administered by the U. S. Office of Personnel Management. Persons who desire to take the Engineer-in-Training test should direct their inquiries to the Secretaries of the appropriate State Boards.
College Teaching: College-level teaching of engineering may be considered as professional experience in engineering. In accepting and evaluating teaching experience, all specific qualification requirements pertaining to the evaluation of professional experience such as grade level, responsibility, scope, specialization, and knowledge required are also applicable to the evaluation of teaching experience. Teaching experience that is accompanied by a significant amount of research, direction of research, investigative, or similar work may be credited at full value in meeting a specific requirement for research, investigative, or similar experience.
Guide for the Evaluation of Engineering Curricula: The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (formerly the Engineers' Council for Professional Development) accredits specific engineering and engineering technology curricula; it does not accredit institutions. Thus, an accredited college may have (1) ABET-accredited professional engineering curricula; (2) professional engineering curricula that are not ABET-accredited; and (3) 4-year curricula in engineering technology that may or may not be ABET-accredited.
The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology publishes two bulletins: "Accredited Curricula Leading to First Degrees in Engineering" and "Accredited Curricula Leading to First Degrees in Engineering Technology." Those wishing to obtain copies of these bulletins should contact the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, 345 East 47th Street, New York, N.Y. 10017. A summary of ABET-accredited engineering programs also appears periodically in the Journal of Engineering Education.
Some engineering curricula are acceptable as meeting the basic requirements even though such curricula are not specifically accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. As a general rule, any professional engineering curriculum in an engineering school that has one or more of its curricula accredited by ABET may be accepted. It should be noted, however, that some universities have curricula identified as engineering curricula outside the engineering school, e.g., in the school of architecture or forestry. Such curricula need to be reviewed to see if they comply with the requirements of paragraph A.(2) of the basic requirements.
Back to Top
Use the Group Coverage Qualification Standard for Professional and Scientific Positions for this series in conjunction with the Individual Occupational Requirements described below.