TBPE Logo

Is a Texas Licensed Engineer Required?

One of the most common questions to our agency is;
"When is a Texas licensed engineer required for a project?" Click on the link below to view and print out a flow chart of the process used to evaluate this question.
DIAGRAMMATIC INTERPRETATIONpdf icon

The following are extracts from The Texas Engineering Practice Act which are used to determine this requirement.
The most current, entire Practice Act can be found at: http://engineers.texas.gov/downloads.htm

Texas Occupations Code, Title 6, Chapter 1001 (Law and Rules revised 7/20/09)
§ 1001.301. License Required
(a) A person may not engage in the practice of engineering unless the person holds a license issued under this chapter.
(b) Except as provided by Subsection (f), a person may not, unless the person holds a license issued under this chapter, directly or indirectly use or cause to be used as a professional, business, or commercial identification, title, name, representation, claim, asset, or means of advantage or benefit any of, or a variation or abbreviation of, the following terms:
(1) “engineer”;
(2) “professional engineer”;
(3) “licensed engineer”;
(4) “registered engineer”;
(5) “registered professional engineer”;
(6) “licensed professional engineer”; or
(7) “engineered.”
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (f), a person may not directly or indirectly use or cause to be used an abbreviation, word, symbol, slogan, or sign that tends or is likely to create an impression with the public that the person is qualified or authorized to engage in the practice of engineering unless the person holds a license and is practicing under this chapter.
(d) A person may not receive any fee or compensation or the promise of any fee or compensation for engaging in the practice of engineering unless the person holds a license issued under this chapter.
(e) A person, sole proprietorship, firm, partnership, association, or corporation that engages in or offers or attempts to engage in conduct described by this section is conclusively presumed to be engaged in the practice of engineering.
(f) Notwithstanding the other provisions of this chapter, a regular employee of a business entity who is engaged in engineering activities but is exempt from the licensing requirements of this chapter under Sections 1001.057 or 1001.058 is not prohibited from using the term “engineer” on a business card, cover letter, or other form of correspondence that is made available to the public if the person does not:
(1) offer to the public to perform engineering services; or
(2) use the title in any context outside the scope of the exemption in a manner that represents an ability or willingness to perform engineering services or make an engineering judgment requiring a licensed professional engineer.
(g) Subsection (f) does not authorize a person to use a term listed in Subsections (b)(2)-(6) or a variation or abbreviation of one of those terms.

§ 1001.003. Practice of Engineering
(b) In this chapter, “practice of engineering” means the performance of or an offer or attempt to perform any public or private service or creative work, the adequate performance of which requires engineering education, training, and experience in applying special knowledge or judgment of the mathematical, physical, or engineering sciences to that service or creative work.

§ 1001.401. Use of Seal
§ 1001.401. Use of Seal
(a) On receiving a license, a license holder shall obtain a seal in a design authorized by the board, showing the license holder’s name and the legend “Licensed Professional Engineer” or “Registered Professional Engineer.”
(b) A plan, specification, plat, or report issued by a license holder for a project to be constructed or used in this state must include the license holder’s seal placed on the document. A license holder is not required to use a seal required by this section if the project is to be constructed or used in another state or country.
(c) A person may not place a seal on a document if the license of the license holder named on the seal has expired or has been suspended or revoked.
(d) A license holder is not required to use a seal under this section for a project for which the license holder is not required to hold a license under an exemption provided by Subchapter B.
(e) A license holder shall not be required to provide or hold any additional certification, other than a license issued under this chapter, to seal an engineering plan, specification, plat, or report.

§ 1001.402. Enforcement by Certain Public Officials
A public official of the state or of a political subdivision of the state who is responsible for enforcing laws that affect the practice of engineering may accept a plan, specification, or other related document only if the plan, specification, or other document was prepared by an engineer, as evidenced by the engineer’s seal.

§ 1001.407. Construction of Certain Public Works
The state or a political subdivision of the state may not construct a public work involving engineering in which the public health, welfare, or safety is involved, unless:
(1) the engineering plans, specifications, and estimates have been prepared by an engineer; and
(2) the engineering construction is to be performed under the direct supervision of an engineer.

§ 1001.053. Public Works
The following work is exempt from this chapter:
(1) a public work that involves electrical or mechanical engineering, if the contemplated expense for the completed project is $8,000 or less; or
(2) a public work that does not involve electrical or mechanical engineering, if the contemplated expense for the completed project is $20,000 or less; or
(3) road maintenance or improvement undertaken by the commissioners court of a county. § 1001.051. Limitation on Exemption
An exemption under this subchapter applies only to a person who does not offer to the public to perform engineering services.

§ 1001.052. Employee of License Holder
A person who is an employee or subordinate of an engineer is exempt from the licensing requirements of this chapter if the person’s practice does not include responsible charge of design or supervision.

§ 1001.054. Federal Officer or Employee
An officer or employee of the United States is exempt from the licensing requirements of this chapter during the time the officer or employee is engaged in the practice of engineering for the United States in this state.

§ 1001.055. Mechanical, Electrical, or Other Equipment
(a) A person is exempt from the licensing requirements of this chapter if the person is installing, operating, repairing, or servicing a locomotive or stationary engine, steam boiler, diesel engine, internal combustion engine, refrigeration compressor or system, hoisting engine, electrical engine, air conditioning equipment or system, or mechanical, electrical, electronic, or communications equipment or apparatus.
(b) This exemption does not permit a person to:
(1) sign an engineering plan or specification if the person is not an engineer; or
(2) use the term “engineer” or “engineering” in any manner prohibited by this chapter.

§ 1001.056. Construction or Repair of and Plans for Certain Buildings
(a) A person, sole proprietorship, firm, partnership, joint stock association, or private corporation is exempt from the licensing requirements of this chapter if:
(1) a representation that engineering services have been or will be offered to the public is not made or implied; and
(2) the person or entity is erecting, constructing, enlarging, altering, or repairing or is drawing plans or specifications for:
(A) a private dwelling;
(B) apartments not exceeding eight units for each building in the case of one-story buildings;
(C) apartments not exceeding four units for each building and having a maximum height of two stories;
(D) a garage or other structure pertinent to a building described by Paragraph (A), (B), or (C);
(E) a private building to be used exclusively for:
(i) farm, ranch, or agricultural purposes; or
(ii) storage of raw agricultural commodities
(F) a building having no more than one story that:
(i) is not a building exempt from the licensing requirements of this chapter under Section 1001.053 or subject to Section 1001.407;
(ii) has a total floor area of not more than 5,000 square feet; and
(iii) does not contain a clear span between supporting structures greater than 24 feet on the narrow side. (b) If a structure described by Subsections (a)(2)(F)(i) and (ii) contains unsupported spans greater than 24 feet, only the trusses, beams, or other roof supporting members must be engineered or pre-engineered.
(c) The exemption provided by this section does not apply to a person or entity that is:
(1) providing engineering design or inspection services necessary to comply with windstorm certification standards for a residential dwelling under Subchapter F, Chapter 2210, Insurance Code; or
(2) providing engineering design relating to constructing, enlarging, altering, or repairing, or drawing plans or specifications for, a residential dwelling slab located on expansive soil that meets the expansive soil classification provisions of the International Residential Code as applied in the jurisdiction in which the residential dwelling is located, unless the construction, enlargement, alteration, repair, or drawing of plans or specifications meets the International Residential Code requirements as applied in the jurisdiction in which the residential dwelling is located.

SUBCHAPTER K. ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTY
§ 1001.501. Imposition of Administrative Penalty
The board may impose an administrative penalty on a person who violates this chapter or a rule adopted or order issued under this chapter.

§ 1001.552. Criminal Penalty
(a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) engages in the practice of engineering without being licensed or exempted from the licensing requirement under this chapter;
(2) violates this chapter;
(3) presents or attempts to use as the person’s own the license or seal of another; or
(4) gives false evidence of any kind to the board or a board member in obtaining a license. (b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

BOARD SEALING RULES
§137.31 Seal Specifications

(a) Upon issuance of a license, each license holder is required to obtain a seal under the requirements of §133.97 of this title (relating to Issuance of License) and submit an impression of the seal or an electronic seal, and an original or an electronic signature to the board for board records. (b) All physical seals obtained and used by license holders shall be capable of leaving a permanent ink image or permanent impression of the seal attached to the engineering work. The physical and electronic seals shall be of the design illustrated in this paragraph. The physical seals may be one of two different sizes:
(1) a pocket seal (the size commercially designated as 1-5/8-inch seal), or
(2) a desk seal (commercially designated as a two-inch seal).

(c) Electronic seals may be of a reduced size provided that the engineer's name and number are clearly legible. (d) All seals obtained and used by license holders shall contain any given name or initial combination with the surname as currently listed with the board and in the usual written signature. Nicknames shall not be permitted on a seal in lieu of a given name or initial combination. (e) Preprinting of blank forms with an engineer's seal, or the use of decal or other seal replicas is prohibited. (f) When signing an engineering work, the engineer may utilize the designation "P.E" or other terms as described in §137.1 of this chapter (relating to License Holder Designations). (g) This section does not prevent the reproduction of sealed and signed, original works for distribution.

§137.33 Sealing Procedures
(a) The purpose of the engineer’s seal is to assure the user of the engineering product that the work has been performed or directly supervised by the professional engineer named and to delineate the scope of the engineer’s work. (b) License holders shall only seal work done by them, performed under their direct supervision as defined in §131.81 of this title, relating to Definitions, or shall be standards or general guideline specifications that they have reviewed and selected. Upon sealing, engineers take full professional responsibility for that work. (c) When a license holder reviews and elects to use standards or general guideline specifications, those items shall be clearly labeled as such, shall bear the identity of the publishing entity, and shall be:
(1) individually sealed by the license holder; or
(2) specified on an integral design/title/contents sheet that bears the engineer’s seal, signature, and date with a statement authorizing its use. (d) License holders shall take reasonable steps to ensure the security of their physical or electronic seals and electronic signatures. For electronic seals and electronic signatures, the engineer must have reasonable security measures in place to protect these files. In the event of loss of a seal or electronic signature, the engineer will immediately give written notification of the facts concerning the loss to board. (e) Preliminary documents released from a license holder's control shall identify the purpose of the document, the engineer(s) of record and the engineer license number(s), and the release date by placing the following text or similar wording on the title sheet of bound engineering reports, specifications, details, calculations or estimates, and each sheet of plans or drawings regardless of size or binding, instead of a seal: "This document is released for the purpose of (Examples: interim review, mark-up, drafting) under the authority of (Example: Leslie H. Doe, P.E. 0112) on (date). It is not to be used for (Examples: construction, bidding, permit) purposes." (f) License holders shall affix their seal and original signature or electronic seal and signature with the date on the final version of their engineering work before such work is released from their control.
(1) The signature and date shall not obscure the engineer's name or license number in the seal.
(2) Engineering work required to bear a seal and signature includes the original title sheet of bound engineering reports, specifications, details, calculations or estimates, and each original sheet of plans or drawings regardless of size or binding.
(3) All other engineering work, including but not limited to research reports, opinions, recommendations, evaluations, addenda, documents produced for litigation, and engineering software shall bear the engineer's printed name, date, signature and the designation "P.E." or other terms as described in §137.1 of this chapter (relating to License Holder Designations). A seal may be added on such work if required or at the engineer's discretion. (g) Work performed by more than one license holder shall be sealed in a manner such that all engineering can be clearly attributed to the responsible license holder or license holders. When sealing plans or documents on which two or more license holders have worked, the seal and signature of each license holder shall be placed on the plan or document with a notation describing the work done under each license holder’s responsible charge. (h) Licensed employees of the state, its political subdivisions, or other public entities are responsible for sealing their original engineering work; however, such licensed employees engaged in review and evaluation for compliance with applicable law or regulation of engineering work submitted by others, or in the preparation of general planning documents, a proposal for decision in a contested case or any similar position statement resulting from a compliance review, need not seal the review reports, planning documents, proposals for decision, or position statements. (i) A license holder, as a third party, may alter, complete, correct, revise, or add to the work of another license holder when engaged to do so by a client, provided:
(1) the client furnishes the documentation of such work submitted to the client by the first license holder;
(2) the first license holder is notified in writing by the second license holder of the engagement immediately upon acceptance of the engagement; and
(3) any work altered, completed, corrected, revised, or added to shall have a seal affixed by the second license holder. The second license holder then becomes responsible for any alterations, additions or deletions to the original design including any effect or impact of those changes on the original license holder’s design. (j) A local authority may require an original seal and/or signature on reproduced documents. (k) A plan, specification, plat, or report issued by a license holder for a project to be constructed or used in this state must include the license holder's seal placed on the document. A license holder is not required to use a seal if the project is to be constructed or used in another state or country. (l)An engineer may securely transmit his or her final version of engineering work electronically provided that work bears the engineer's seal and uses one of the techniques described in §137.35(a) of this chapter (relating to Electronic Seals and Electronic Signatures) and must employ reasonable security measures to make the documents unalterable. Electronic correspondence of this type may be followed by a hard copy containing the engineer's printed name, date, signature and the designation "P.E." or other terms described in §137.1 of this chapter (relating to License Holder Designations). (m)A license holder is not required to use a seal for a project for which the license holder is not required to hold a license under an exemption set forth under the Act, Texas Occupation Code §§1001.051 - 1001.066. (n) All engineering documents released, issued, or submitted by a licensee, including preliminary documents, shall clearly indicate the firm name and registration number of the engineering firm by which the engineer is employed.
(1) If the engineer is employed by a local, State, or Federal Government agency, then only the name of the agency shall be required.
(2) If the engineer is exempt from sealing a document under subsection (m) of this section, but elects to seal a document, then only the name of the employer shall be required.

§137.35 Electronic Seals and Electronic Signatures
(a) Licensed professional engineers shall maintain the security of their electronic seals and electronic signatures. The following methods are allowed:
(1) Licensed professional engineers may electronically copy their original hard copy work that bears their seal, original signature, and date and transmit this work in a secure electronic format.
(2) An engineer may create an electronic seal and electronic signature for use in transmitting electronically formatted engineering work, regardless of whether the work was originally in hard copy or electronic format.
(b) As an alternative to electronic sealing and electronic signatures, engineers shall affix their original seals and signatures and date to their engineering work as specified in §137.33(f) of this chapter (relating to Sealing Procedures).

§137.37 Sealing Misconduct
A license holder is guilty of misconduct and subject to disciplinary action if the license holder:
(1) knowingly signs or seals any engineering document or product if its use or implementation may endanger the health, safety, property or welfare of the public.
(2) signs or affixes a seal on any document or product when the license is inactive or has been revoked, suspended, or has expired.
(3) alters a sealed document without proper notification to the responsible license holder.
(4) allows others access to his or her electronic files containing his or her seal and/or electronic signature, unless access is explicitly authorized for particular engineering work.

 

Resources

Outreach Scheduling
Exam Information
Disciplinary Actions
Download Forms
PE/EIT Address Changes
NCEES
Law and Board Rules
Fees
Public Information Requests