By Michael Krepsik
Anyone with a PE license in a state requiring Board-approved courses can tell you about the difficulties they’ve had finding, traveling to, and registering for courses. If you are an out-of-state PE trying to maintain a license, the opportunities to achieve the required continuing education credits can be daunting. The states of Florida and New York are notability difficult and the regulations are confusing. As a Florida license holder and co-workers with several New York PE’s, I set out to learn the continuing education requirements for the 2015-2017 renewal cycle and, specifically, if local and National ASCE courses and webinars would count for continuing education credit for either state.
For the 2015-2017 renewal cycle, Florida has completely dropped the requirement for 8 PDHs in Board-approved courses. Instead, a total of 18 PDHs are now required, 1 hour of which must cover ethics and 1 hour of which must cover laws and rules. While waiving the Board-approved course requirement initially sounds promising, the language in Florida’s statues about qualifying continuing education courses is vague and outdated. And of course, if you are audited and fail to supply sufficient back-up information, your license maybe revoked. For example, a continuing education course is typically considered acceptable if the provider is registered as a continuing education provider with NCEES, a regionally accredited educational institution, a commercial educator, a governmental agency, or a state of national professional association whose primary purpose is to promote the profession of engineering. Based on my conversation with a contact at the Florida Board of Engineers, MOST courses offered by ASCE on the local or national level will qualify towards license renewal. I include the caveat MOST, as item 9 under Non-Qualifying Activities includes such language as “Courses the content of which is below the level of knowledge and skill that reflects the responsibility of engineer in charge.” Bad punctuation and grammar aside, this statement leads me to believe that if the Florida Board doesn’t feel a particular course is not presented at a high enough level then that course will not be counted towards bi-annual credits.
Take-Away – ASCE courses should count but make sure you obtain more PDHs than you need as not everything may count!
For the 2015-2017 renewal cycle, New York will continue to require 36 hours of continuing education for engineers, with a minimum of 1 hour on ethics. A minimum of 18 hours must be obtained through courses and a maximum of 18 hours may be in educational activities, such as preparing and teaching courses, publishing a journal or book, making a technical presentation, obtaining a patent, and a few other options. To be considered acceptable, the courses/education activities must be:
- Administered by an approved New York State provider
- About an approved subject area
- Submitted in an approved format
- Include opportunity for immediate interaction with an instructor/presenter.
While the ASCE National live webinar series seem to meet the above requirements, I was unable to ascertain if ASCE National is an approved provider. The Metropolitan Section of ASCE is listed as an approved provider of courses, in order to provide their members with local presentations which yield valid PDHs. The only reference on the ASCE National website (and the general consensus when I called) concerning the suitability of ASCE national webinar courses for continuing education requirements was that engineers are advised to check with their state licensing boards before registering for a course to determine eligibility. The few out-of-state New York PE’s I spoke with indicated that they usually booked a 2 or 3-day seminar in New York state each year to fulfill the bulk of their requirements; then looked for specialty on-line courses from vendors who are approved providers.
Take-Away – Research carefully before registering and learn the approved course sponsors: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/pels/pecesedsponsors.htm (Tip: most approved courses will proudly announce they are approved in New York; obtaining an approved course certification is not easy.)