PENNSYLVANIA COUNCIL of
PROFESSIONAL GEOLOGISTS
 

PCPG FAQs - Continuing Education Requirements

September 2010

PCPG has prepared this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page to assist Pennsylvania Professional Geologists with understanding and successfully completing the newly enacted continuing education requirements included in PA Act 25 of 2010.

NOTE: The term “Board” used below refers to the Pennsylvania State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists, part of Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs.  It is the State Registration Board, not PCPG, that issues professional licenses and requires continuing education.  PCPG is not legally affiliated with the Board and does not represent the Board or its decisions and opinions.  This summary does not commit the Board in any way.  It is provided solely to help state PG licensees comply with Board requirements.

Q.  I am a Pennsylvania Registered Professional Geologist.  Do the continuing education requirements affect me, and what are they?
A.
  Yes.  Licenses are valid for a two year period.  Under the requirements of Act 25, you will be responsible for obtaining 24 Professional Development Hours (PDHs) with each renewal.  Beginning with the biennial renewal period starting October 1, 2009, all licensees must complete the required 24 PDH during the biennial renewal period.  The September 30, 2011 renewal will require that licensees affirm that they have completed the required continuing education course work during the current 2009 through 2011 licensing period.  There are several exceptions:

Exception — Continuing education is not required during the biennial cycle which includes the licensee’s initial registration.  If you were first licensed in the two-year period ending September 30, 2011, you are required to affirm the necessary continuing education course work for renewal on September 30, 2013.
Exception — Annual continuing education is not required for licensees who serve active military duty for at least 120 days in a year.
Exception — The Board may waive continuing education requirements for a licensee with illness or demonstrating other extenuating circumstances.

Q.  What is the “Professional Development Hour” or “PDH”?
A.
  Act 25 defines a Professional Development Hour or PDH as "50 minutes of instruction or presentation relevant to professional practice or any equivalent."  And the Act states that Course "shall mean any qualifying course with a clear purpose and objective which will maintain, improve or expand the skills and knowledge relevant to a licensee’s professional practice.”  Courses to improve or expand skills and knowledge of groundwater hydrology could, for example, include groundwater sampling techniques, flow modeling, statistics, and setting data quality objectives.  For geology, examples may include field trips or courses focused on visiting type sections or high quality exposures, and coursework in structural geology, sedimentary petrology or petrography.  For economic geology, continuing education may include explanations of the Marcellus Shale play, quarries, or mine reclamation.

Q.  What do I have to do to comply with the new state continuing education requirements?
A.
  Complete courses or activities totaling 24 PDHs during the license renewal biennium that are relevant to maintaining, improving or expanding the licensed professional practice, which may include mixtures of the following:

1 — Attend a college course (one semester hour class = 45 PDHs; one quarter hour class = 30 PDHs);
2 — Attend a correspondence course, a short course or tutorial delivered by television, videotape or other delivery means, a seminar, or an internal company course (one hour = 1 PDH);
3 — Teach a course, class, tutorial or seminar, except as a full-time faculty member (double the number of attendance PDHs); or
4 — Author a paper, article or book, or obtain a patent. (10 PDHs).

Q.  What is the deadline for completing the continuing education requirements?
A.
  The first cycle ends September 30, 2011.

Q.  Can I carry credits forward from one renewal period to the next?
A.
  Up to 12 PDH units may be carried forward into the subsequent renewal period after the 24 required units are earned.

Q.  Do classes have to have final quizzes or examinations to count?
A.
  A quiz or examination is not a requirement.

Q.  Can I use OSHA 1910.120 HAZWOPR training for some of these requirements?
A.
  While still being discussed, the Board has initially decided to accept up to 8 PDH credits for HAZWOPR training within a renewal cycle.

Q.  Can I use other required health and safety training courses?
A.
  Provided a course completed by a licensee will maintain, improve or expand skills and knowledge obtained prior to initial licensure, including law and ethics applicable to the profession, or develop new and relevant skills and knowledge, the Board will accept credits for continuing professional competency-related health and safety training, including HAZWOPR, once per renewal cycle.  Annually completed training may only be counted once during a renewal cycle.

Q.  Can I take a legal course, say on restrictive real estate covenants, real estate law, PA Act 2 or CERCLA liability.  Do these courses count?
A.
  These topics seem to fit the law and ethics conditions in the law.  The Licensing Board will make the final determination.

Q.  Can I use online training, such as EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) training, to meet these requirements?
A.
  A short course or tutorial delivered by television, videotape or other delivery means should meet the requirement, provided the content will maintain, improve or expand skills and knowledge obtained prior to initial licensure.  This includes law and ethics training but does not include practice building or office management.

Q.  Can I get credit for classes that I teach?
A.
  Yes, teaching a course, class, tutorial or seminar, except as a full-time faculty member, earns double the number of credits instructed (double the number of attendance PDHs)

Q.  Do I have to have a receipt or certificate proving my attendance at a continuing education class?
A.
  Yes, the licensee is responsible for maintaining records to demonstrate they have completed the required continuing education.

Q.  Will the State Board of Registration pre-approve courses?
A.
  The Board is not required to pre-approve CE courses, but to give some reassurance to licensees that they will be meeting the requirements with courses selected, the Board may decide to pre-approve course providers.  Brown bag lunches provided internally by private companies may also qualify.  Licensees should expect to collect details of the dates, times, instructors and contents to satisfy the Board of its merits, if requested.

Q.  What if I do not have enough credits within a registration biennium?
A.
  Each licensee is required to obtain 24 PDH units during each biennial renewal period.  The first cycle ends September 30, 2011.  Barring an exception described elsewhere, the licensee may be subject to disciplinary action by the Board.

Q.  What if the Board does not approve all of my claimed continuing education PDHs?
A.  The Board is not required to pre-approve continuing education courses.  It is the responsibility of the licensee to choose appropriate PDH activities.  The Board has the final authority to approve or reject PDHs claimed.  The Board may approve course providers.  Licensees are required to maintain a training log and other documentation to demonstrate attendance at an appropriate number of PDHs.  During the renewal process, licensees will answer a question to attest to their maintenance of the training requirements.  The Board will audit the records of a portion of all licensees.

Q.  What kind of continuing education is the Board looking for?
A.  Continuing professional competency obtained by a licensee should maintain, improve or expand skills and knowledge obtained prior to initial licensure.  It includes law and ethics training, but does not include practice building or office management.

Q.  Where can I take continuing education classes?
A.  The licensee may take part in any qualifying activities within or outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Q.  How is the credit calculated?
A.
  Act 25 states that credit for PDHs is calculated as follows:

For College Courses — 45 PDHs for each Semester-Hour Class, and 30 PDHs for each Quarter-Hour Class.
— For Seminars, Correspondence Courses, Short Courses or Tutorials delivered by television, videotape or other delivery means, or a course internal to the organization 1 hour=1 PDH.
For teaching a course, class, tutorial or seminar, except as a full-time faculty member double the number of attendance PDHs.
For authoring a paper, article or book, or obtaining a patent 10 PDHs.

Q.  Can I use credits used for other state’s renewals for Pennsylvania credit?
A.
  PDHs may be obtained outside the Commonwealth.  A course credit claimed for another state’s renewal requirement may also be used as a Pennsylvania PDH as long as it meets the PDH requirements.

Q.  Can I count credits twice?
A.
  PDHs may be claimed only one time.

Q.  How can I get more than one hour credit for a class contact hour?
A.
  Teach a course, class, tutorial or seminar, except as a full-time faculty member (double the number of attendance PDHs).

Q.  Can I count publications that I author?
A.
  Authoring a paper, article or book qualifies for 10 PDHs.

Q.  Are there any written guidelines for the continuing education requirements?
A.
  Pennsylvania’s PDH requirements are based in part on National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) guidance, an organization of professional licensing boards.  They have several publications, including “Continuing Professional Competency Guidelines,” dated June 2008.

Q.  When are the new continuing education requirements effective?
A.
  Now.  Beginning with the biennial renewal period starting October 1, 2009 and ending September 30, 2011, all licensees must acquire the required 24 PDHs during the biennial renewal period.

Q.  Can I obtain credit for internal company seminars I attend?
A.
  Credit can be obtained for seminars, correspondence courses, short courses, or tutorials delivered by television, videotape or other delivery means, including courses internal to the organization (one hour=1 PDH).  The standard is that continuing professional competency obtained by a licensee should maintain, improve or expand skills and knowledge obtained prior to initial licensure.  It includes law and ethics training but does not include practice building or office management. 

Q.  Can I obtain credit for internal company seminars I teach?
A.
  Credit can be obtained by teaching a course, class, tutorial or seminar, except as a full-time faculty member (double the number of attendance PDHs).

Q.  Where can I find qualified continuing education classes?
A.
  The Board is not required to pre-approve CE courses.  It is the responsibility of the licensee to choose appropriate PDH activities.  The Board has the final authority to approve PDHs claimed.  The Board may approve course providers.  PCPG provides a wide variety of continuing education classes that satisfy PDH requirements.

Q.  Will I have to submit copies of my completed continuing education with the board?
A.
  According to the Board, the licensee is responsible for maintaining records of PDH activities, including a log showing the activity dates, location, duration, speaker or presenter names, sponsoring organization, and PDHs claimed.  This documentation will not be submitted when applying for renewal.  Rather, the Board expects to request that a percentage of Professional Geologists provide the log and supporting documentation for audit.  Attendance verification records may include certificates or other evidence of attendance.

Q.  Do I have to submit copies of my publications?
A.
  Most renewal applicants will only be required to complete a single question on the renewal application affirming that they have obtained the CE requirements.  A percentage of the renewal applications will be verified, with the Board requesting the log of CE activities and a form of verification for each activity.  Applicants are responsible for maintaining the records to support the PDHs they claim.

Q.  Do I have to submit copies of course outlines for my continuing education credits?
A.
  If verification of claimed PDHs is requested by the board, applicants will be expected to provide sufficient backup for activities claimed.  This may be in the form of certificates of completion, web recordings (such as a recorded copy of a webinar), and prepared materials.

Q.  I understand that the continuing education requirement is not effective for the (current) 2011 renewal period.  Is this true?
A.
  No.  The continuing education requirement is fully effective during the current biennial renewal period, covering the period between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2011.

Q.  What records must I keep?
A.
  The Board requires a log of activities that describes activity dates, location, duration, speaker or presenter names, sponsoring organization, and PDH units claimed.  Attendance verification records may include certificates and other evidence of attendance.  Records should be maintained for a period of five years.

Q.  What do I do with my record of continuing education?
A.
  All licensees are required to maintain their individual records, including the log of activities for which continuing education credit is claimed and verification that each of these activities were successfully completed.  At the time of renewal, each licensee will answer an additional question to affirm their compliance with the CE requirements.  Only a percentage of the applicants will be requested to verify this claim.  If requested, the licensee must provide the log and documentation to verify attendance and content to the Board.

Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists
116 Forest Drive, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania 17011



 
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