Continuing Education for Engineers – What’s It All About
At the end of 2019, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) estimated that there were more than 800,000 professional engineers in the U.S. If you are just getting into engineering, at some point in time, you are going to need continuing education for engineers.
Each state has different requirements when it comes to engineering license renewal. Some states require a certain amount of continuing education credits every year. Others allow you to obtain the credits every 2 to 3 years.
No matter which state you live in or how many credits you need, finding the education courses that will help you renew your license is imperative.
Read on for the best ways to obtain and keep track of your continuing education credits to renew your engineering license.
Continuing Education for Engineers: How Many Hours Do You Need?
In general, most states in the U.S. require that professional engineers obtain 10 to 15 hours of continuing education courses to renew their license.
Depending on where you live, the state may require that some of those hours focus on ethics, state laws and/or regulations, or business management.
Your state might also require that you take courses that relate to your specific engineering field. For example, if you are a civil engineer, then the vast majority of education credits you receive should be from courses that are geared specifically toward civil engineers.
Some states allow for general engineering classes to be applied to your license renewal. Since engineering requires skills and expertise in a wide range of subjects, you may be encouraged to take courses that will help improve your skills.
This might include taking classes in math, project management, and business management, among others.
Visiting the state board’s website will let you know exactly what they are looking for.
Can Any Hours be Carried Over?
Some states allow you to carry over any hours that go above and beyond the requirements into the next renewal period.
There is usually a cap on how many can be used. However, if you acquire more hours in the renewal period than you need to renew your license, you won’t have taken the classes in vain. They can still be used in the future.
Are There Any Exemptions?
Again, this will depend on the state in which you live. Some of the most common exemptions include the following:
- Engineers in their first year who have just taken the professional engineering exam may not have to renew their license until the next cycle.
- Professional engineers who are also on active duty with the U.S. military may not have to take continuing education courses.
- If you experience a disability, illness, or temporarily leave the engineering field, you may be exempt from obtaining license renewal credits.
- If you have retired or become inactive.
When it comes to inactivity, in many states, to renew your license, you have to fill out a separate application form and pay a renewal fee. This may be in addition to obtaining the continuing education credits necessary to be a professionally licensed engineer.
How Do You Obtain Continuing Education Credits?
Again, depending on the state in which you live, the board that takes care of engineering license renewal may need to approve the course providers and credit hours.
Not all states do this, so visiting the board’s website and finding out for sure is in your best interest. This will also ensure that you are taking the right classes and not wasting your time.
There are a variety of different ways to earn your education credits. Some of the most common include the following:
- Attending or presenting workshops
- Attending engineering conventions or conferences
- Taking courses and classes offered by an accredited college or university
- Publishing a book, article, or paper in a subject related to your engineering field
- Obtaining a patent
- Being an active member of a professional engineering society, including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
- Taking online courses
One of the most widely accepted ways that you can earn continuing education credits is by taking online courses by an approved provider.
State engineering boards are aware of how time-consuming and challenging it can be to work your full-time job and take classes on the side. Thus, many states are more than happy to allow you to take classes online.
There are numerous sites that offer engineering courses. Some are pre-approved providers of CEU courses for numerous states.
How Do You Keep Track of Your Credits?
Keeping track of your professional development hours (PDH) can be achieved in different ways.
You can input the information into a spreadsheet. You can also use software and apps to help with this endeavor. Your state may require that you turn in CEU logs with your license renewal.
If you already have this up to date and ready to go, it will make the process more efficient and smoother.
When you take a PDH class, you will receive a certificate of completion. These will come in either paper or electronic form. You’ll want to keep these on file.
Most states don’t require you to turn your certificates in when you apply to renew your license. Although, they may conduct random audits. If you are chosen for a random audit, you need to have this documentation to prove you took the classes you claimed.
How long you keep this documentation will depend on state requirements. In general, you will need to keep your certificates for at least 4 to 6 years.
If you don’t comply with the rules and regulations set forth by your state’s licensing board, then you may not be able to renew your license. There is no grace period when it comes to professional engineering license renewal.
If you don’t get your application in on time and have the required courses, your license won’t get renewed. Continuing to practice engineering with a lapsed or expired license could result in disciplinary actions.
Stay on Top of License Renewal Requirements
When it comes to continuing education for engineers, it is your responsibility to know how many credits you need and when your renewal application is due. Visiting the state’s licensing board site can help, as can visiting PDH-Pro.
We are committed to providing you with useful information and the continuing education courses you need to renew your professional engineering license. We have also been pre-approved in many states.
Check out our site to find the courses you need to keep your professional engineering license in good standing.