Continuing Education Helps Virginia Engineers Remain Sharp
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Virginia had the fourth highest concentration of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) employees in the nation in 2018. As this sector of the economy continues to grow, how will you stand out from the other professional engineers in Virginia?
Continuing education gives you the opportunity to develop professionally, advance your career, and make yourself more competitive. Find out the benefits of Virginia continuing education for engineers and how you can fulfill state requirements as efficiently as possible.
Virginia Continuing Education for Professional Engineers
The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill in 2006 that instructed the Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects (APELSCIDLA) to create and implement a continuing education program for architects, professional engineers, and land surveyors. The regulations came into effect in 2009, and the program started in 2010.
Continuing education is part of the mission of APELSCIDLA. The Board seeks to ensure a competent workforce and protect the public.
As a Virginia engineer, you need to complete 16 hours of continuing education to renew or reinstate your license. Virginia doesn’t require a certain number of hours for courses on ethics or state law. Those types of courses can count towards your 16 hours, though.
Benefits of Professional Development
Continuing education benefits you in several ways. You gain personally and professionally.
Continuing education makes you more competitive for promotions or a new position. You don’t have to commit to earning a higher degree, either. Choosing professional development courses that build on your strengths and expand your skillset also increases your marketability.
Advances in Technology
You stay current with the latest technology and industry processes. The technology and equipment that engineers use changes rapidly. Learning about these changes helps keep you interested in your field. You also gain a competitive edge.
Legal and Ethics Changes
You’ll be up-to-date on any changes in laws or ethics regulations that affect professional engineers. Failure to comply with new rules will result in disciplinary action, even if you didn’t know about the changes. Avoid potential problems with continuing education.
Professional development also promotes safety. Learning about the latest safety procedures protects you, your coworkers, and the general public.
Complying with the Virginia engineer continuing education requirement benefits your career. It keeps you engaged in your profession.
What Counts as Professional Development?
The guidelines for Virginia engineer continuing education are broad. You have flexibility in choosing how to meet the continuing education requirement. APELSCIDLA doesn’t pre-approve courses or provide a list of approved activities.
The Board lists 5 criteria to determine if an activity counts as professional development.
1. Subject matter
The activity should cover material related to the practice of engineering.
The activity must have a clear objective that will maintain, improve, or expand your skills and knowledge. The topic should be relevant to your area of practice. Subjects like business practices, project management, risk management, and ethics are also valid.
If the activity has an instructor, the instructor must be competent in the subject matter. Education or experience is acceptable for judging instructor competency.
If the activity is self-directed, you need to complete an assessment at the end. This assessment, such as a quiz or exam, verifies that you achieved the purpose of the activity.
The activity should result in a document that verifies you successfully completed it. Certificates of completion or grade reports are examples of documentation.
If you do an activity with the same content more than once during a renewal or reinstatement cycle, you can only claim the credit once.
Within these guidelines, a variety of types of activities count towards your continuing education. Courses at a college or university, seminars, and conference presentations can count. Online classes and webinars can count too.
APELSCIDLA doesn’t limit the number of hours you can earn through online activities. All your professional development can be online if you choose.
Calculating Credit Hours
The sponsor of each professional development activity should say how many hours are required to complete it. You can’t claim more continuing education hours than the sponsor has determined are possible.
An activity that lasts 50 minutes counts as an hour of continuing education. If an activity is divided into sections shorter than 50 minutes, you should add them together.
A semester hour of college credit gives you 15 hours of continuing education. You receive 10 hours of professional development for a quarter hour of college credit.
Teaching or Leading an Activity
Teaching a course or leading another type of activity gives you more hours than being a participant.
You receive double the credit that participants get if you develop, substantially update, or teach an activity. For example, if participants earn 6 hours, they receive 12 hours. However, you can’t claim the double credit more than once. If you earn double credit for teaching a course during your current renewal cycle, you can’t claim the same course again.
Timeline for Continuing Education Hours
You need to complete your 16 hours of professional development every 2 years when you renew your license. You can’t carry hours over from previous years.
The renewal date for your license is the last day of the month 2 years after the date it was issued.
Be sure to plan ahead. If you don’t submit your license renewal before the deadline, you’ll face disciplinary action.
Documentation and Audits
You need to keep documentation of your professional development hours. However, you don’t need to submit the documents with your application for renewal or reinstatement. You just have to certify on your application that you met the Virginia continuing education requirement.
APELSCIDLA may periodically audit engineers who are applying for renewal. If they audit you, they’ll request your continuing education documentation. You must submit the paperwork within 21 days of their request. The Board will accept digital or paper records.
If the Board decides that any of your professional development activities don’t meet the requirements, you have to make up those hours. If you didn’t properly earn the hours, you’ll also have to make them up.
In case of an audit, you should keep your continuing education documentation for 3 years.
Continuing Education that Works for You
As a Virginia engineer, continuing education is an important part of maintaining your license. It also helps you develop as a professional. Meeting the state requirements doesn’t have to be a hassle. Online continuing education simplifies the process.
PDH-Pro offers state-specific courses and course packages that meet APELSCIDLA guidelines. We guarantee that the Board will accept our courses or we’ll give you a full refund. In addition, we keep your certificates of completion for 10 years. You’ll be ready in the event of an audit.
Our live and on-demand webinars are relevant to your area of practice. We have courses for chemical, civil, electrical, environmental, geotechnical, mechanical, and structural engineers.
Check out our Virginia continuing education courses today and start your professional development.