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On Licensure: Linking surveyors with CPC providers.

July 23, 2008
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A map of CPC requirements by jurisdiction. Captured from www.ncees.org with permission.

Professional surveyors across America know the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) as the organization that develops, administers and scores the two exams every licensee must pass: Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) and Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS).

What they may not know is that NCEES is more than the licensure exam coordinator and administrator. Because the council is made up of the licensing boards that oversee professional engineers and surveyors in each of the 50 states and several territories, our organization works to promote comity across state lines. While professional regulation falls under the jurisdiction of individual states, there is much to be gained from promoting comity among jurisdictions and facilitating professional mobility for licensees who practice in more than one state.

NCEES, working with its member licensing boards, has developed several professional services specifically designed to make it easier for professional engineers and surveyors to pursue and manage licenses in multiple states. The best known and most widely used of these services is the Council Records Program, which has existed in one form or another since the 1920s. The program provides a centralized location for information related to the qualifications for licensure of licensed engineers and surveyors. It is popular among those who work, or expect to work, in multiple jurisdictions because it eliminates the duplication of paperwork.

More recently, NCEES and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) joined forces to create a program to address the issue of continuing education requirements for professional engineers and surveyors, especially those licensed in more than one state, by linking licensees with qualified course providers.

The issue of comity with regard to continuing education is relatively new for NCEES. The member licensing boards that make up the council generally agree that licensure mobility should be as easy as possible. This is in the best interest of licensed professionals, whose careers require them to be licensed in more than one jurisdiction, but it’s also in the best interest of the public, which depends on licensure as a means of protecting them from incompetent practice. And as more states have begun to require continuing education for licensure renewal, it has become increasingly difficult for multistate licensees to track and manage their continuing education credits. As a licensed professional land surveyor in four states and a licensed professional engineer in seven, I am all too familiar with this difficulty. Requirements can vary according to the number of credit hours required each year, the types of courses accepted and the course providers approved. For example, some states grant credit for membership in a professional or technical society, while others don’t. A professional engineer or surveyor with licenses in multiple jurisdictions could conceivably spend more time keeping up with continuing professional competency (CPC) requirements than he or she could spend earning a university degree.

The online searchable database of the NCEES-ACEC CPC program provides several options for various disciplines and market sectors. Captured from www.ncees.org with permission.

The continuing education program developed by NCEES and ACEC has kept these issues in mind. For example, the program’s Web site at www.rcepp.org provides a description of CPC requirements in each state. A master calendar provides information on courses available in a licensee’s area, and the providers directory contains a listing of program-affiliated organizations that offer continuing education courses that fulfill CPC requirements. These providers have distinct advantages over unlisted providers: They reach a greater number of potential course-takers and demonstrate that they have met the standards of quality required by NCEES for inclusion in the directory.

In turn, registered users of the NCEES-ACEC continuing education program can easily find credit courses from providers that have met the standards of quality demanded by NCEES. The program enables users to track their progress in meeting the CPC requirements in the jurisdictions where they are registered. It maintains a transcript of requirements met and automatically adds new credits from registered providers. Licensees can also self-report credits earned from providers not listed in the directory. Additionally, the program allows licensees to upload documents, such as certificates of completion, that verify progress in meeting CPC requirements.

More than ever, professional mobility is necessary for professional engineers and surveyors who work on projects across state lines and are faced with the challenge of renewing their licenses in multiple states--each with unique CPC requirements. The continuing education program of NCEES and ACEC is a means of addressing this difficult challenge. After all, engineers and surveyors are used to finding solutions to problems such as this. It’s the nature of our professions.

For more information on the NCEES-ACEC continuing education program, including its costs, visit www.rcepp.org.

Sidebar:

Our goal for the program is for it to become the national clearinghouse for continuing professional competency requirements for professional engineers and surveyors. We are actively seeking course providers for the surveying listing of the registry. Currently, the surveying profession is underrepresented in the directory, although licensed surveyors face the same challenges as engineers in obtaining continuing education credits to renew their licenses. If you are involved in or know of organizations that offer courses that meet the CPC needs of professional surveyors, we encourage you to direct them to NCEES.

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