Texas soon will require continuing education credits for geoscientists renewing their licenses.
The Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists has drafted a set of continuing education rules with the aim of adopting them later this year, according to board vice chairman Edward G. Miller.
The new rules require 15 hours of continuing education credit per year. Barring major revisions, the rules probably will go into effect Sept. 1, 2006, Miller said.
Although petroleum and other resource geoscientists are exempt from licensing, many choose to obtain a license because the energy industry remains volatile and they may find themselves taking a career path where licensure is required, Miller said.
"I would do it -- in fact, I did do it," said Rick Erickson, chairman of the AAPG Division of Public Affairs' State Registration and Licensing Committee. Erickson also serves as liaison between the DPA and the National Association of State Boards of Geology.
Erickson, who also is executive director of the Mississippi State Board of Registered Professional Geologists, said roughly 90 percent of resource geologists in that state register even though they are exempt.
"The oil and gas industry has so many ups and downs that it's more or less an insurance policy," he said.
"I'm sure the same thing can be said of every other state, especially in the petroleum areas," he added.
"There is a broad scope of things people can do to acquire the continuing education credits," Miller said.
Some of the opportunities include:
- Completing or auditing college courses.
- Attending or presenting technical sessions at trade shows or professional meetings such as those offered by AAPG.
- Taking in-house and other training sessions or seminars.
- Participating as an official or committee member in a professional society.
- Publishing papers, articles, books or software programs.
Military personnel deployed outside the United States more than 120 days are exempt for that year.
Professionals employed outside the United States more than 120 days in a year are exempt, except for five hours of self-directed study.
Miller said up to 30 hours in excess of the requirements may be carried over to the next year.
Geoscientists must keep track of their credits on a form provided by the Texas board and save receipts or other documents to verify attendance. Miller said the board audits a certain percentage of renewals each year, and only those license holders are required to present the documentation. The fee is $150 per year.
Beginning in July, geoscientists will be able to renew their licenses online at www.texasonline.com using a credit card or electronic check and print a receipt for their own records.
More than 6,000 earth scientists are licensed in Texas, which began requiring licensure in 2003. The TBPG licenses professionals in three disciplines -- geology, geophysics and soil science.
States that require continuing education for license renewals include Alabama, Kansas, Delaware, Minnesota, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Erickson said, adding that Mississippi has a voluntary program.
States considering licensing include Oklahoma, Hawaii, Michigan and New York, Erickson said.
AAPG encourages states going through the process to exempt petroleum and other resource geologists from licensing or registration because their work usually does not directly impact public health, safety or welfare, he said.
The proposed continuing education rules may be viewed online at www.tbpg.state.tx.us, Miller said.