The Importance of Continuing Education for Professional Engineers

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Posted on April 12, 2022 by Laura Worker in Business Compliance.

Professional engineers are responsible for obtaining continuing education credits, also referred to as professional development hours (PDH), to maintain their licenses. Continuing education ensures firms and their employees are expanding and improving their engineering skills and cultivating new and industry-relevant abilities. While continuing education requirements vary by state, most jurisdictions mandate PE exams and certifications on a scheduled basis.

Why State Boards Require Continuing Education for Engineers

The primary purpose of licensing and PDH requirements is to protect consumers from unqualified or unethical practitioners. Professional development is also intended to reinforce the importance of staying on top of changing technology, equipment, procedures, processes, and previously established standards.  

Continuing education requirements can include activities such as attending engineering conferences, taking online courses, or participating in engineering webinars. The majority of state boards require continuing education to complete renewals. Requirements vary by state licensing board. 

The Benefits of Continuing Education 

Whether you are looking to renew your engineering license or you wish to advance your technical skills in your chosen field, there are several benefits to pursuing continuing education. 

  • Technical competence. Engineering is constantly evolving, so engineers need to grow alongside technological developments. Continuing education ensures engineers know the most up-to-date information for their industry. 
  • Career advancement. Engineers looking to make career advancements will benefit from PDH. Not only do courses expand their knowledge base, but they can also show initiative to potential employers and clients. 
  • Networking. The majority, if not all, of the individuals attending continuing education courses in engineering will be professional engineers or owners of professional engineering firms. Participants can leverage the opportunity to make new connections. 
  • Job satisfaction. Learning new material can result in higher job satisfaction, as engineers will feel more prepared for their work and confident in their skills and abilities. 
  • Staying compliant. Ultimately, continuing education is required to practice as a professional engineer. PDH courses will ensure that firms and their employees can continue to work without interruption or penalties. Manage your CE for PE renewals with compliance solutions from Harbor Compliance.  

Continuing Education Requirements: FAQs

Are engineers required to take ethics courses to satisfy continuing education requirements?

While not every state requires ethics courses as a part of PDH, most states accept ethics course credits. The goal of covering ethics topics is most often to ensure engineers understand their duty to protect the public and maintain client confidentiality.  Courses that provide ethics training typically discuss the following topics:

  • Engineers as social experiments 
  • Engineers’ responsibility for safety 
  • Global issues 
  • Moral reasoning and ethical theories 
  • Relationships between engineers and managers 
  • Respect to engineers and rights of engineers 

How many PDH credits are needed to renew an engineering license?

The number of PDH credits needed to renew an engineering license varies by state; however, most engineers can expect to earn upwards of 20 credits per renewal period. 

Can PDH credits be carried over to the next renewal period? 

In some states, licensing boards allow a maximum number of credits to be carried over to the subsequent license renewal period. 

Are there free sources of continuing education?

Not every state board provides free PDH courses. However, there are a number of professional institutions that offer free courses as a benefit to members, including the following:

  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)

Course providers may provide free development hours as a way for prospective customers to evaluate their program. Some providers offer several hours for free before requiring payment. States engineering boards that offer free courses typically focus on state engineering laws and ethics. 

What documentation is required to prove PDH credits?  

On average, professional engineers are required to keep continuing education records for at least five years. The records should include the name of the education provider, when and where the activity took place, the instructor’s name, and the number of credit hours earned. 

State boards typically accept certificates of completion, assuming they contain that information.  Some states provide professionals with an activity log to help engineers keep track of their courses and earned credits. 

Stay on Top of CE Requirements With Harbor Compliance 

While the process can seem arduous, Harbor Compliance keeps up with each state’s requirements, tracks renewals, and submits applications on firms’ behalf. A dedicated compliance expert can help you keep track of varying jurisdiction requirements and updated laws.

At Harbor Compliance, we handle all aspects of compliance for architecture and engineering firms, and a full range of other businesses. If you are looking for help keeping your business compliant, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our software and services.

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