IEEE-USA, CS to Create Professional Software Engineering Exam

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 10 September, 2009 -- IEEE-USA and the IEEE Computer Society will be working together to develop an examination requested by state licensure boards for prospective use in licensing software engineering professionals.

The National Council of Examiners of Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) approved the development of a Principles and Practice of Engineering examination -- PE exam -- for software engineering in August. NCEES develops and administers the engineering and surveying competency exams used for licensing purposes in all US jurisdictions.

NCEES had received requests for the software engineering exam from engineering licensure boards in 10 states, a requirement that must be met prior to beginning the development of a new exam. These boards contend that because software engineers play a significant and ever-increasing role in the design and operation of safety-critical systems, they should be regulated in the same manner as other engineering disciplines. Projects affecting public safety require licensed engineers to verify that the engineering was done properly.

Software engineers agree. Nearly two-thirds (62.9 percent) of respondents to a September 2008 survey of software engineers conducted by the Computer Society said that they should be licensed if they practice in areas affecting public health, safety and welfare. In addition, 61.5 percent supported development of a path to software engineering licensure through the NCEES Model Law.

The Computer Society has been laying the foundation for greater professionalism in the software engineering field with “The Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge,” or SWEBOK, a 2004 guide that established a baseline for knowledge in the field and is now being updated. Under the new ISO/IEC 24773 standard approved in October 2008, all software certifications must conform to SWEBOK. The Computer Society’s two certifications -- the entry-level Certified Software Developer Associate credential and the mid-career Certified Software Developer Professional credential, are the first two certifications that conform to the new ISO/IEC 24773 standard.

NCEES expects the software engineering PE exam to take between 24 and 30 months to develop. The Computer Society, NCEES, the National Society of Professional Engineers, IEEE-USA and the Texas Board of Professional Engineers will share the cost of developing and maintaining the exam, and will provide subject matter experts to help develop it.


IEEE-USA advances the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of more than 210,000 engineers, scientists and allied professionals who are US members of IEEE. IEEE-USA is part of IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional society with 375,000 members in 160 countries..

About the IEEE Computer Society

With nearly 85,000 members, the IEEE Computer Society is the world’s leading organization of computing professionals. Founded in 1946, and the largest of the 39 IEEE societies, the Computer Society is dedicated to advancing the theory and application of computer and information-processing technology. The Society serves the information and career-development needs of today’s computing researchers and practitioners with technical journals, magazines, conferences, books, conference publications, certifications and online courses.

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