Converting Continuing Education Credits to PDH

Converting Continuing Education Credits to PDH

Converting Continuing Education Credits to PDHContinuing education is a vital and necessary factor in the career of a Professional Engineer (PE). In some places, it is considered so important that it is required in order to maintain one’s engineering license. In 42 states, PEs must earn continuing education credits to renew their licenses. Each state has its own requirements, but most boards require 15 hours annually or 30 hours biennially. Many engineers elect to use continuing education provides like PDH-Pro to satisfy their requirements.

The good news is that there are now a variety of options for professional engineers to choose from to earn continuing education credits. PEs can also earn credit by taking college courses, teaching a class, or presenting at a conference. These alternative programs are great, but it can be confusing and difficult to know how much credit a state engineering board will accept. The rules vary from state to state, and each board makes the professional engineer responsible for knowing what is allowed.

This calculator converts the various credits systems into the standard used by all state boards— professional development hours, also known as PDHs.

To use this tool, fill out the form below for each type of continuing education activity. The form will convert the credit to PDH hours and provide you with a total. Please note that every state has its own rules, and this tool is only intended to provide you with an estimate of the credit you can potentially earn. You should check with your state engineering board to determine what they will accept.

College Courses

Many professional engineers go back to college to continue their professional education. All state engineering boards accept college courses for continuing education credit as long as they meet the requirements. Generally, the only requirement is that the course must be technical and related to the licensee’s practice. Some states do not allow credit for general science courses such as chemistry or physics. Be sure to check with your state board before you register for a course if you’re planning to take a college course to earn credit.

Semester Hours [15 PDH]

Quarter Hours [10 PDH]

Continuing Education Units

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are units of credit that measure the student’s level of involvement in a continuing education program. The International Association of Continuing Education Training (IACET) established standards for colleges and training organizations to use. For professional engineers, one continuing education unit is equal to 10 contact hours or PDH credits.

CEU Hours [10 PDH]

Professional Technical Presentation

You can usually earn CEU credit by making a professional or technical presentation at meetings, conventions, or conferences. The credit you can claim is based on the length of your presentation. For example, a one-hour talk will earn you one PDH hour.

Presentation (hours) [1 PDH]


If you teach an engineering or technical course, you will be able to claim continuing education credit. The rule of thumb is 2 PDH hours for every hour of course credit.

Teaching (hours) [2 PDH]

Authoring a Course

If you write a continuing education course, your state board will allow you to take credit. Generally, the credit is twice the number of hours that the course is worth. If you think this is a good idea, you can become a course author with PDH-Pro – click here to learn more.

Course Author (course hours) [2 PDH]

Publishing a Paper, Book, or Article

If you author a paper that is published in a technical journal, you may be able to claim credit towards your continuing professional competency requirement. Generally, the paper must be on a technical topic that is related to your area of practice. Some states limit credit to peer-reviewed journals – not all do.

Each state has its own requirements and restrictions, so be sure to verify with the board before you add a paper to your CEU goals.

Published Paper [10 PDH] [5 PDH]

Receiving a Patent

If you are granted a US patent, you can probably receive credit towards your continuing education goal. Most states will allow you to earn as many as 5 hours of PDH credit for a patent issued to you. The patent must be in your area of practice, and related to engineering.

Patent [5 PDH]

Standards or Code Development

Several state engineering boards recognize active participation in technical committees that develop standards and codes as a suitable continuing education activity. The credit received depends on your role and the level of the committee. Not all states accept credit for this activity.

Standards or Code Development [4 PDH]

Developing Professional Licensure Exams

If you volunteer to prepare examinations for professional licensure, you may be able to earn continuing education credit. Not all states accept this activity, but several do. Check with your state engineering board to determine applicability and their requirements.

Professional Licensure Exam Development [1 PDH]

Active Participation in Engineering Organization

If you are an officer or serve on a committee in an engineering society, you may be able to claim continuing education credit for your service. This category varies widely by state, so be sure to check with your board.

Some states require you to be an officer in the organization. Others will give you credit for participating in society events such as conferences, outreach programs, or writing a newsletter.

The Mississippi board defines active participation as paying annual dues, and they allow 1 hour of credit for each society, up to a maximum of three hours.

Participation in Engineering Society [3 PDH]

Educational Outreach

A few state boards also accept active participation in educational outreach activities . This term is not universally defined, and varies from state to state. The reason for allowing this credit is to recognize that it takes time to prepare for an outreach event. It also reflects positively on the profession to have engineers talking to and training students.

Educational Outreach Activity [1 PDH]

Not All Activities Count

Be careful not to take credit for activities that your board won’t accept. We published a comprehensive article that will help clear up questions on this topic: Activities That Don’t Count for Engineering Continuing Education | Surprising Answers.

Important Definitions

It is important to understand the jargon that state engineering boards use. Many people use terms interchangeably, but this leads to confusion and sometimes incorrect interpretations of state board rules.

Professional Development Hour (PDH): A Professional Development Hour is the most common unit, representing one hour of participation in instruction or presentation. Most other units of credit refer to this as a standard unit.

Continuing Education Unit (CEU) – The term Continuing Education Unit is used specifically for credits earned from continuing education courses. One continuing education unit is equivalent to ten hours of any course approved by the state boards.

College/Unit Semester/Quarter Hour – These terms include credit earned for any course in programs approved by ABET, or any other approved college courses that relate specifically to the licensee’s field and continuing education.

Course/Activity – Any course or activity that meets the requirements of the state licensing boards, and which has a defined goal of developing and maintaining the skills of a licensee in that field.

The Takeaway

PDH Pro features original, cutting edge, and accredited courses on a broad range of engineering topics designed to help advance your career. Backed by more than 30 years of experience, our content is the trusted source of continuing education for professional engineers every year. Our top priority is to help you grow, develop, and maintain your technical competency.