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What are CEUs
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Continuing Education Units, known as CEUs, are a unit of credit that equals 10 hours of participation in an accredited program developed for licensed professionals who practice various professions. Some of the professions that use CEUs include engineers, financial advisers, doctors, nurses, CPAs, lawyers, real estate agents, and other professionals who are required to participate in continuing education programs. Each profession has requirements that specify the number of hours registrants are required to earn every year in order to keep their certificates or licenses to practice, current. The annual number of CEUs required varies by state and profession. Examples of CEU and pdh credit hours for engineering continuing education can be found on our Texas Board of Engineering Laws & Rules course.
In 1968, a national task force on continuing education and training was commissioned by the Department of Education. This task force created the CEU and established universal guidelines for training and continuing education. In 2006, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) released guidelines for the CUE which are now the most widely used CEU guidelines. Training program providers who want to ensure that their programs meet the proper criteria for becoming accredited, use these ANSI standards for CEUs.
One Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is defined as 10 contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience under responsible sponsorship, capable direction, and qualified instruction. The CEU is primarily intended to provide a permanent record of the participants who completed one or more non-credit educational courses. Universities, continuing education providers, or professional associates that can demonstrate compliance with the ANSI standards can award CEUs to professionals.
Many professions require their members to earn a minimum number of CEUs every year to ensure they are up-to-date with current practices in their field. Proof of course completion is necessary to renew a license in most states. The number of credits required varies by profession and state. In general, certificates are issued to provide tangible proof that a practitioner has completed the required continuing education units. Many professionals display these certificates in their offices as further proof of their competency and expertise.
Continuing Education Opportunities
Many professions coordinate international conferences to allow their members the opportunity to network and learn. Trade shows are often a significant component of these conferences, allowing professionals the opportunity to learn about the many products and services that are innovative and enhance their profession. In addition, a lot of colleges and universities offer continuing education courses. A good strategy for earning CEUs is to inquire about whether or not your local school is accredited to offer approved continuing education in your specific field.
It is important to know that many state engineering boards allow professional engineers to earn continuing education credits online. Remember, be careful. Make certain the organization providing the training is approved (if your state pre-approves course providers) before you invest any time or money. If you have concerns about a provider, check with your state engineering board.
The Importance of Continuing Education
Technology and professions are constantly evolving and changing. Continuing education is essential for engineers to remain current with the latest developments, best practices, and new technologies required for their engineering discipline. Today’s professional engineers must commit to a philosophy of life-long learning that enhances their professional effectiveness, maintains competency, and allows them to provide high value service to their clients. Most states require continuing education to renew a professional engineering license. Overall, continuing education is considered the best manner for professional engineers to remain abreast of their fields and to prevent them from lagging behind.
Many other careers in addition to professional engineering require continuing education. For example, teachers, real estate agents, and nurses are required to have an undergraduate degree and then receive updated education as they continue to work in their fields. Professionals in these fields must continue to develop the skills necessary for the ever-changing modern world.
Because of the fast pace of change that exists today, it is critically important that engineers stay current and in compliance with engineering laws and regulations, as well as technological advancements. Education requirements for professional engineers are established by each state engineering board. Professional engineering requires an undergraduate degree for entry, and then professionals must complete continuing education courses as they renew their license and progress in their careers.
Continuing Education Formats
Continuing education courses are delivered in a variety of formats, with many designed to provide flexibility to accommodate demanding work schedules. These programs can take place at training centers, live webinars, or via self-directed online courses. Continuing education is often delivered via webinars using many of the conferencing applications such as GoToMeeting and WebEx. Whether it is required or not, continuing education can be important for career development and professional growth. Continuing education can boost confidence and create opportunities for career advancement.
Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin–Madison were among the first higher education institutions to offer university-based continuing education. Initially, these CEUs were only available to teachers, but they expanded their offerings to other professionals, including engineers.
The desire to remain current and broaden your horizons is one of the most important characteristics of the modern day professional engineer. The vast majority of professions, and most national or state governments, require professionals to regularly participate in continuing education learning experiences to remain licensed in the profession. Professional engineers must obtain professional development hours (PDH) credits to renew their license. These requirements are either base on an annual or biennial renewal cycle.
The various engineering societies that exist all emphasize the importance of continuing education. Many of these organizations offer continuing education opportunities to their membership. Some provide their own learning programs such as online courses, conferences, video-on-demand, and webinars. When certifying a continuing education course or webinar for credits, often called Continuing Education Units, the assessor looks at a variety of things.
1. Relevance to the profession
This can be broadly applied. It is not always necessary to take a course within your discipline. In fact, some of the most useful training can come from other engineering disciplines. Consider this: an electrical engineer may need to learn anatomy to implement a new biomedical sensor.
2. The difficulty or degree of the course
Basic information that the engineer would be expected to learn in high school or college generally does not count toward professional development. However, refreshers are still beneficial in certain situations.
3. The instructor’s qualifications
The instructor should be a subject matter expert in the topic of the course being offered.
Acceptable educational training comes in many forms. Traditional college classes and seminars are increasingly being replaced by on-line education and webinars. Regardless of the delivery method, the fundamental principles will continue to apply – continuing education is a good and necessary thing. Engineers must continue to evolve to maintain their professionalism and widespread respect.
State Engineering Board Strategies
As a professional engineer, you are responsible for determining which courses will meet the state board continuing education requirements. For engineers registered in multiple states, this can be difficult and time consuming: the Texas Board CEU requirements are different than those established by the Wisconsin Engineering Board. You can minimize the time required to maintain CEU compliance by relying on the expertise of others – your peers, continuing education providers, and state board personnel. Other good sources of information include engineering forums, engineering organization newsletters, and all correspondence received from your state licensing board. The value of being a licensed professional engineer is significant, and it is well worth the investment of time to maintain and protect your PE registration.