Meeting Geotechnical Engineering Continuing Education Requirements | Top 7 Strategies

Continuing Education Requirements for Geotechnical EngineersMeeting Geotechnical Engineering Continuing Education Requirements Top 7 Strategies

Currently, 42 state engineering boards require geotechnical engineers to earn continuing education credits.

Geotechnical engineers, like all PEs, must complete 12 to 15 hours of continuing education courses each year. In addition, they may have to earn PDH credits in engineering ethics, professional behavior, and state engineering laws. Courses should be technical and relevant to the practice of engineering.

Geotechnical Engineering and Professional Licensing

Geotechnical engineers work collaboratively with geologists, structural engineers, and construction project managers to design and build critical infrastructure projects such as buildings, bridges, dams, and pipelines. Geotechnical engineers are licensed by state engineering boards where they practice and must meet the continuing education standards for PE license renewal. Geotechnical engineers have a lot of options when it comes to meeting their engineering continuing education requirements.

Many of the geotechnical engineering societies and organizations offer continuing education courses for their members. Several of the course providers offer CEU courses with topics that focus on the geotechnical engineering discipline. Geotechnical engineers can also earn PDH credit by completing undergraduate and graduate courses at colleges and universities.

If you are a geotechnical engineer looking for more information on engineering continuing education for your license renewal, you will find a lot of useful information and guidance in the following discussion.

Continuing Education Course Topics for Geotechnical Engineers

Are you wondering what continuing education courses you should take? You’re not alone. Many geotechnical engineers ask us which courses are appropriate for them. Although you aren’t limited to courses within the geotechnical discipline, courses of interest to your colleagues include tunnel design and construction, slope stability, geotextiles, foundation design, and testing methods. Other subjects that are available to geotechnical engineers include state rules and laws, project management (some states limit this topic), and ethics. Geotechnical engineers also enjoy courses that focus on general engineering and technical areas. Rather than focus on what other professionals might be doing, you should select continuing education courses that fit in with your overall career development plans so you can maintain your professional development and achieve your long-term goals.

Do Engineering Boards Accept Courses from Another Discipline

Geotechnical engineers must often incorporate technical solutions that come from other engineering disciplines into their design work. As a result, they often wonder if they can earn continuing education credit for courses that do not fall within the umbrella of geotechnical subjects. More importantly, will their state engineering board accept the CEU hours if the courses  aren’t considered to be strictly geotechnical engineering? Each state licensing board develops its continuing education requirements, and while there are differences from state to state, most state boards WILL ACCEPT engineering continuing education courses in other engineering disciplines. The most common requirement for acceptance is the course must be beneficial to your area of practice and expand your skills and knowledge of the engineering profession. Remember, the reason state boards require continuing education for engineers is to protect the public welfare. This is best achieved by making certain your skills are current and you are knowledgeable about current best practices. It is always best to review your state’s continuing education requirements and to check with both the course provider and the engineering board.

Is One Format Best for Continuing Education Courses

In addition to selecting the course topics for your continuing education requirements, you must also choose from a variety of formats. The most commonly used type of courses are the self-directed online courses. With these courses you can complete the work at your own pace and on your schedule. The course materials are usually in an electronic format, such as Adobe PDF, which allows you to either print or save it to your computer to study and use. In the past several years, live webinars have become the most popular type of CEU course for geotechnical professionals. Webinars are set up to mimic a traditional classroom setting where the professor delivers a lecture to the class and students can interact with the instructor and each other. The benefit of the online version is the participants do not need to travel, and they can learn from their office or home. Another widely used method of earning engineering PDH credits is technical conferences and engineering seminars. If you are a member of an engineering organization or society, you can earn CEU credits by becoming an officer or serving on a committee.

What do State Engineering Boards Think About Online Continuing Education

The most commonly used type of courses are delivered online. These so-called self-directed courses are offered by a lot of continuing education providers. If this type of course appeals to you, you should confirm that your board will accept them. Most do, but several limit how many hours you can earn from this type or course or require you to obtain them from an approved course provider. Many of these providers offer courses specifically developed for geotechnical engineers which makes it easier to identify engineering courses for your license renewal.

The key thing to remember as you evaluate geotechnical engineering continuing education courses, the courses you select must maintain, improve and expand your technical knowledge and be of use in your engineering practice. A nice way to earn your CEU credits is geotechnical engineering webinars and geotechnical engineering seminars. They are interesting, convenient, and fit in well as part of your PE license renewal.

Although state boards do not have specific geotechnical engineer continuing education requirements, you still have to meet all of their requirements to renew your engineering license.You have a lot of choices when it comes to the continuing education courses you ultimately select for your professional engineering license renewal. Check with the course provider to see if the specific offering includes all of the elements you need for your learning objectives and if it meets your state board’s requirements.In the end, you are responsible for ensuring your engineering continuing education courses meet all of the board’s requiements.

Are Engineering Webinars Accepted by My State Board

Our research indicates that every state engineering board will accept live webinars as part of the required continuing education standard. However, each webinar must comply with the engineering board requirements. The topic should be technical and expand your knowledge and skills. Some states require pre-approval of the course and/or the course provider. In addition, your state board may have more limitations, so you should review the requirements for each state where you hold a professional engineering license. New York, Ohio, and Nebraska are the most restrictive, so if you are licensed in these states pay close attention to the rules.

New York Geotechnical Engineers: The New York board allows you to meet the continuing education requirement using engineering webinars. Every course in New York must be from an approved continuing education provider.

Ohio Professional Engineers: The Ohio board established timed and monitored requirements for engineering CEUs. Live webinars meet this requirement as long as the provider verifies attendance and monitors your participation in the course.

Wisconsin Geotechnical Engineers: The Wisconsin board requires professional engineers to earn 13 hours of continuing education courses where you can interact with the instructor. Live webinars meet this condition and the Wisconsin engineering board will accept engineering webinars for CEU credit.

Iowa Geotechnical Engineers: The Iowa board requires that some of your engineering CEU’s must be live and interactive. Live webinars from PDH Pro meet this requirement.

Nebraska Professional Engineers: The Nebraska board has strict limits regarding the use of online courses that can be applied towards your engineering CEU credits. Live webinars are exempt from this limit.

What Do Geotechnical Engineers Do

A geotechnical engineer is a person who practices geotechnical engineering. Geotechnical engineering is a subsect of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behavior earth materials. Although geotechnical engineers are important to the civil engineering field, they are also vital in other sectors like the military, petroleum and mining fields disciplines among others. So, what exactly do they do?

An in-depth look into what the discipline of geotechnical engineering encompasses may help define what a geotechnical engineer does. The discipline uses the principles of soil and rock mechanics to analyze surface materials and their conditions. The purpose of the analysis is to determine the relative physical, mechanical and chemical properties of the materials relative to construction projects.

How the Leaning Tower of Pisa Was Saved: Crash Course Engineering #40 [9:53]
PBS Digital Studios looks at how structures connect to the ground and transmit loads through their foundations, and how those foundations need to provide a high bearing capacity. They discuss how properties of the soil, like shear strength, affect bearing capacity. They also consider happens when the ground experiences stress from seismic activity and how seismic engineers work to counteract those effects.

Therefore, a geotechnical engineer does the following:

  • Investigate geological material on earth and how it will affect construction projects
  • They gauge the stability of both man-made and natural slopes
  • They assess risks posed by site conditions to avert any potential disasters
  • Design earthworks and structure foundations while monitoring site conditions

These are multi-disciplinary tasks undertaken by the engineers over all fields. It can be in oil sands projects, oil and gas operations, hydrological engineering, civil engineering or marine operations.

Their main characteristic is possessing analytical skills to be able to deduce facts found after geological investigations.

Required Skills for a Geotechnical Engineer

A geotechnical engineer is a multi-disciplinary position hence the engineer should have a working knowledge of the numerous engineering fields. They include structural engineering, ocean engineering, petroleum engineering, and material science. This is part of processing both practical and technical skills.

They should also have an interest in the natural world. The interest helps them enjoy and stay committed to the important work they do. The job can become disastrous when no passion is involved.

Characteristics of Geotechnical Engineers

In addition to the general skills technical and engineer skills outlined above, geotechnical engineers should:

  • Have problem-solving skills
  • Possess organizational and planning skills
  • Have strong oral and written communication skills
  • Possess the ability to work unsupervised as well as work as part of a team

As a geotechnical engineer, you should understand that the field is constantly changing with new equipment, updated regulations and other factors beyond your general duties and responsibilities. Therefore, you must always work to maintain your competency and ensure the quality of your work meets the general standards of care for the profession.