The Basics of Navigating CPC Requirements

Engineering Continuing Professional Competency RequirementsThe Basics of Navigating CPC Requirements

Navigating CPC Requirements can be a bit of a minefield. Learn the basics here so you know where to start.

Professional engineers need to refresh their knowledge and deepen their education. This is imperative if they want to renew their licenses.

The frequency of these educational requirements isn’t universal. In fact, states have different stipulations for engineers where certifying their continued studies is concerned. But typically, this occurs either bi-annually or yearly.

In light of that, it’s essential to know how to navigate CPC requirements to stay up to date. That way, you can be prepared to renew your license when its due.

Even though state requirements vary, the idea of continuing professional competency remains the same. So, there are some general rules you can keep in mind which we’ve outlined below…

Let’s dive in!

What are CPC Requirements?

CPC stands for continuing professional competency. It describes the need for skilled professionals (like engineers) to prove their ongoing expertise and knowledge in their field.

The purpose of renewing an engineer’s license is to ensure structural work (that could affect the safety of others) is carried out by those with up-to-date knowledge. Most notably, on all the necessary legislation and best practices.

Different states demand different educational steps from their engineers. But, in general, you should keep the following in mind:


PDH stands for professional development hours. This refers to the number of certified hours you’ve dedicated to your continuing education.

For example, one hour attending a lecture is one PDH. There’s usually a specified number of hours an engineer needs to fulfill to renew their license.

Depending on the state, the number of hours you need to complete varies between 15 and 40.

Renewal Date

This is the date all CPC requirements need to be fulfilled and submitted by to renew an engineer’s license. In some states, like Alabama, this occurs every year on the same date (31st of December). In other states, it occurs biennially.

Special Requirements

Some states will define specific guidelines to describe permittable use of the PDH. Some states also allow self-study and internet courses.

Requirements may also specify that continuing education must be relevant to the profession of engineering. Or, may only include a limited number of managerial or professional ethics hours.

What Are Acceptable Courses?

Acceptable topics are those that maintain and enhance your professional competency and improve upon your engineering skills.
This means acceptable courses can include:

  • Technical, research, analytical or design aspects of engineering
  • Local laws and regulations applicable to engineering practices
  • Hardware and software courses relating to engineering
  • Standards of practice or care
  • Professional engineering ethics
  • Project management, health and safety, risk assessment or emergency and disaster management

Courses must generally relate and be relevant to the licensee’s field of practice.
More specifically, they should meet the following requirements:

  • There must be a clear purpose and goal for each activity. Namely, to maintain, improve, or expand your engineering skills
  • There must be evidence of pre-planning. This should include input from the target group
  • The content of each presentation should be well organized and presented in a sequential manner
  • Presentations should be given by individuals who are well qualified and experienced
  • There must be a way for each participant to register and record their efforts, so they can prove they participated in the course

They don’t, however, have to take place in a classroom setting, nor do courses have to be supported by the board.

In fact, qualifying programs can be:

  • Live
  • Televised
  • Videotaped
  • Audiotaped
  • Online
  • Through other board approved formats

Qualifying programs are organized and classified as either university, college, or community college courses. That’s as well as professional workshops, seminars, and technical presentations.

But, providers of such courses have to be board approved, except for some pre-approved organizations. For instance, regionally accredited academic learning institutions. That’s as well as national or local professional engineering societies, ACEC, NCEES, and ABET.

What to Hand in at the End of the Renewal Period

Simply put, all you need to do during each renewal period is to certify that you have completed the required number of PDHs. For this, you may need to keep records as specified in the regulations.

Forms can also be found on the board’s website to make the process easier. These records should be kept for a few years following the course.

Taking an Online Course

Online courses are a convenient and straightforward way of fulfilling your CPC requirements for each renewal period.

E-courses may require you to download course materials to help you with your self-study. You may also have to certify your participation by completing a quiz or exam at the end of each lesson or module.

PDH-Pro is one premier online provider of continuing education courses for professional engineers. They host engineering webinars that meet board requirements for both live and interactive sessions.

Top Tip: Try Googling online entities that offer courses that meet NCEES standards. This will enable you to complete your PDH requirements in your own time.

The advantages of meeting the criteria with an online course are numerous. Most notably:

  • The courses are available immediately
  • You can complete them in your own time when it’s convenient
  • You can retake tests as often as you need to
  • Keeping records and certifying your participation to the board is pretty simple.

Just to name a few.

Navigating CPC Requirements Doesn’t Need to be Complicated

We hope having read this article you now know more about CPC requirements.
If we’ve piqued your interest, please feel free to browse our courses. Or, learn more about specific state stipulations and board approval on our blog!