Proposed Rules for Professional Geoscientist Continuing Education ProgramBy Henry M. Wise, P.G.The Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists (TBPG) will require continuing education to maintain your Professional Geoscientist (PG) license. There have been numerous questions and comments regarding the proposed rule. This article is based on the TBPG draft version 2.1 of the proposed rule. As will be seen, there are a wide variety of ways to fulfill the continuing education requirement, and not all of them are expensive.The proposed rule will require 15 professional development hours (PDH) per year plus a minimum of one PDH per year in the area of professional ethics, roles and responsibilities of PGs, or review on-line of the Texas Geoscientist Practice Act and Board Rules. If the license holder exceeds the 15 PDH in a year, up to 30 PDH units may be carried forward for the next two years. For example, if you take a course worth 45 PDH, you can apply 15 PDH units per year for 3 years and not have to take another course until the fourth year.PDH units may be earned as follows:
- Successful completion or auditing of college credit courses.
- Courses offered by professional or trade organizations, universities or colleges, offered in-house by a corporation, other business entity, professional or technical societies, associations, agencies, or organizations.
- Presenting or attending qualifying seminars, in-house courses, workshops, or professional or technical presentations made at meetings (including professional society luncheon or dinner meetings), conventions, or conferences sponsored by a corporation, other business entity, professional or technical societies, associations, agencies, or organizations.
- Teaching or instructing, but not if you earn your livelihood as an instructor, unless it’s a new course. Teaching credit is valid for teaching a course or seminar for the first time only.
- Authoring published papers, articles, or books.
- Active participation in professional or technical societies, associations, agencies, or organization, by serving as an elected or appointed official, or serving on a committee of the organization. PDH credits are not earned until the end of each year of service is completed.
- Patents issued.
- Engaging in self-directed course work. This includes reading relevant published books, papers, or articles.
- Learning to use relevant, specialized, published software. Common software used for such things as word processing or spreadsheets are not considered to be specialized software.
All of the above must be relevant to your practice of geoscience and include technical, ethical, or managerial content.The conversion of other units of credit to PDH units is as follows:
- 1 college or unit semester = 15 PDH
- 1 college or unit quarter hour = 10 PDH
- 1 continuing education unit (CEU)= 10 PDH
- 1 hour of professional development in course work, seminars, or professional or technical presentations made at meetings, conventions, or conferences = 1 PDH
- Attendance at qualifying programs presented at professional and/or technical society luncheon or dinner meetings will earn PSH units for the actual time of each program.
- 1 hour of professional development through self-directed course study (not to exceed 5 PDH) = 1 PDH
- Each published paper or article = 10 PDH; each published book = 45 PDHActive participation in a professional or technical society, association, agency or organization (not to exceed 5 PDH per year) = 1 PDH
- Each patent issued = 15 PDH
- Each software program published = 15 PDHTeaching or instructing as described above = 3 times the PDH credit earned
- The TBPG will not pre-approve or endorse any continuing education activities during the first two years after the effective date of this rule. It is the responsibility of each license holder to assure that all PDH credits claimed meet the requirements. However, a course provider may contact the TBPG for an opinion as to whether or not a course or technical presentation would meet the requirements. Two years after the effective date of this rule, pre-approval will be required.
You need to keep a record of all credits claimed. Required records include:
- A log provided by the TBPG (Figure 1), showing the type of activity claimed, sponsoring organization, location, duration, instructor or speaker’s name, and the number of PDH credits earned. This log must be submitted along with your renewal application.
- Attendance verification records in the form of completion certificates, receipts, attendance roster, or other documents supporting evidence of attendance. These other documents include handouts and copies of the abstract.
If you do not certify that continuing education requirements have been met for a renewal period, your license will not be reviewed until you certify that the continuing education requirements have been met. A determination by audit that continuing education requirements have been falsely reported shall be considered to be misconduct and will be subject to disciplinary action.All logs and associated supporting evidence should be kept for three years. Approximately 10% of all logs and associated supporting evidence will be audited each year. If you get audited, you’ll need to present these records to the TBPG. If it’s determined that you lack the required number of hours, you’ll need to acquire the additional PDH to fulfill the minimum continuing education requirements.There are several exemptions to the continuing education requirement. They are:
- If you obtain your PG license by way of taking the ASBOG exam (that is, you’re not grandfathered) you don’t need any continuing education PDHs for the first year.
- If you are serving on active duty with the military and deployed outside the United States, its possessions and territories for more than 120 consecutive days in a year, you’re exempt from the PDH requirements for that year.
- If you’re employed outside the United States, its possessions and territories, actively engaged in the practice of geoscience for a period of time exceeding 300 consecutive days in a year, you will only need to obtain 5 PDHs of self-directed course work.
- People listed as “inactive” and who further certify that they are no longer receiving any remuneration from providing professional geoscience services in Texas are exempt from the PDH requirement.