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Applying for the Certified Plant Engineer (CPE) Program

Frequently Asked Questions

This credential is designed to validate that the certified person possesses the professional expertise and knowledge required to successfully perform plant and facilities supervisor activities.

What does the exam cover? What is it like?

The CPE exam has a total of 100 questions in multiple-choice format. Questions cover the electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, economics/management, environmental engineering, maintenance, OSHA, energy, controls and instrumentation, and HVAC. A score of 67% is required to pass.

Is there a time limit?

Yes. There is a eight hour time limit to this exam.

Alternatively, you can take the exam in four separate modules. Each module has a two hour time limit.

Am I eligible?

There are two CPE Certification categories. The first is the CPE category A. With this certification you are eligible if you have a minimum of four years in management in plant/facility engineering or six years in the field overall with a four-year degree in engineering, architecture or a related field.

If you do NOT have a degree you must have minimum of six years in management in plant/facility engineering or eight years in the field overall.

With the CPE Category B, you are eligible if you have a minimum of four years experience as a registered Professional Engineer. Additionally, a copy of your PE license is requried

Do I need to show proof of my employment history?

Yes. An employment verification form needs to be completed by your employer(s) based on your employment history and eligibility. For example, if you have been with your current employer for eight or more years, one form is required. If you have been with several employers within a four-year period, a form from each employer is required.

Is there an application or exam fee?

Yes. There is an application and exam fee. Please see the application for pricing. All fees are non-refundable.

What happens if I do not qualify to take the exam?

If AFE finds you are not eligible for the exam, all fees will be returned.

Do I have to be an AFE member to take the test?

No. However, exposure to the many resources available to AFE members will enhance your knowledge of the plant/facilities field. AFE members receive free access to webinars, a searchable electronic library and Facilities Engineering Journal.

How can I prepare for the exam?

AFE offers a CPE Review Pack, which covers the 11 topics contained in the exam. Sample questions are available in the review pack. These questions will give you an idea of how prepared you are in each subject.

Does AFE offer CPE review Classes?

We offer frequent in-person certification review courses at locations throughout the United States as well as online “virtual” seminars.  View the schedule of upcoming course offerings in the AFE Calendar of Events.

Do I have to attend a Review Session to take the CPE Exam?

No, You may study independently, using our Review Pak and recommended reference books located here.

How much time do I have to complete the process of becoming certified?

AFE will approve your application after reviewing your qualifications and verifying your employment. Your window to take the exam expires one year after approval. If that time period lapses and you remain untested, you will need to re-submit the necessary fees and paperwork.

Where is the exam given?

The exam is available in paper form or online. You may take the test in one of two ways:

  • Paper exam at your workplace, using a proctor from your employer's human resources department.
  • Online at your workplace, using a proctor from your employer's human resources department.

You also may request a substitute proctor if your human resources department is unable to assist you. Please contact AFE at (571) 203-7239 to make other arrangements. Test materials are forwarded to the proctor one day in advance of your exam date. Upon completion of the exam, the proctor will return the materials to the certification department for grading.

Is the CPE exam broken into modules?

Yes. We give you the choice of either taking the full 100-question exam or you can choose to take it in modules. The modules are broken up into four exams, each covering two to three sections of the material. Each module exam is a two-hour exam.

If I fail, can I take the exam again?

Yes. However, you are subject to a re-test fee. If you attend a review program and do not pass the exam you will not be charged a re-test fee.

What happens if I pass the exam?

AFE will notify you of your successful passing of the exam. We also can share your success with your boss, to let him or her know of your achievement. You will receive a CPE certificate.

Is my certification good for life or does it expire?

Your certification expires every three years. You must earn at least eight renewal credits every three years. Three of those credits come simply from being continuously employed in the plant/facilities field. The other credits will come from professional development seminars, workshops, etc. When it is time to renew, AFE corporate headquarters will send you the CPE renewal guidelines along with the renewal application.

AFE is committed to assisting you achieve your certification goals. Please contact AFE, (571) 395-8772, with any questions.

Association for Facilities Engineering (AFE)
1101 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Suite 300
Washington,  DC  20004
Phone: (888) 432-1264 | Fax: (571) 766-2142