This page contains several documents that deal with licensure issues. The index provides a brief summary of the documents with a direct link to the document.
Candidates should take note that ASBOG® does not license or register geologists. Individuals must become licensed/registered by the regulatory agency in the state in which they practice.
1. Why Licensure? - Prepared by The Committee on Professional Licensure of the Association of Engineering Geologists as a Public Education Service. This document deals with the issues of why geologists should be licensed as a profession.
2. Why Geologists? - A pamphlet prepared by ASBOG® dealing with such issues as registration, protection of the public, and which states register geologists. This document also deals with the issue Why not hire engineers to certify geologists' work?
3. Evaluating A Geology Degree - This one page paper discusses using the ASBOG® Fundamental of Geology (FG) examination as a measure to evaluate the graduate and the geology program.
The Fundamentals of Geology Examination is a requirement for a
person to become a Licensed Professional Geologist and to offer geologic
services to the public in states that register geologists by examination.
Pass-fail analyses of the Fundamentals of Geology Examination indicate that
nearly 50 percent of the applicants who take the examination are unqualified to
practice geology in the 1990s.
Much of today’s geological practice affects the health, safety and welfare of the public, the environment, and the economy and feasibility of engineered works. Thus the public should be protected.
Unqualified geologists, who are employed in jobs that affect the public, place an undue risk on the health, safety and welfare of that public. The risks include:
1. The possibility of an error that will cause a loss of life or property
2. The higher costs of supervision
3. The costs of repeating incorrect and incomplete work
4. Lower cost/benefit ratios brought about by an inability to do efficient work
The registration examinations used by state boards of
geologist registration are carefully developed and designed. The initial step in
developing an examination is to carry out a task analysis. The task analysis is
based on a survey of registered geologists to determine
1. The amount of time spent on a specific task,
2. The importance of the task in protecting the public, and
3. The extent of competence required for an entry level geologist at the time of initial licensure.
The results of these three independent responses are used to determine the relative significance of the tasks that are performed by geologists and therefore set the blueprint for the examination. If constructing geologic maps is the most significant task, then the examination will have more questions on constructing geologic maps. If, on the other hand, the identification of minerals based on their chemical formula is the least significant task, it may be dropped from the examination all together. The blueprint is the form for the examination and ensures that it represents the practice of the profession.
Subject Matter Experts who represent the full spectrum of the profession, are brought together to write and review questions for the examination. These experts must prepare questions in their field that other experts will approve. The criteria for a question includes:
1. Does it have only one answer?
2. Is it related to a blueprint task?
3. Is it related to public protection?
4. Is the question clear and direct?
5. Is it written at the entry level?
6. Is it free of trickery?
7. Does it avoid assessing trivia?
If the question passes each of these criteria it will be approved for the examination. After a question has been used on an examination it is reviewed and evaluated by the subject matter experts. The first step in the evaluation of each examination is to require each expert to take the examination. The experts, working as a committee, review each examination question to determine:
1. The correct answer,
2. That there is only one correct answer,
3. That the question meets the criteria.
If the question passes review, the experts assign a difficulty score to the question. The score for each question is combined to determine the degree of difficulty of the examination, which determines the minimum level of competence required for a person to practice geology before the public.
Many people will claim that the use of an examination as a
requirement for registration is unnecessary and that it is only used to limit
membership. This claim is supported by the fact that a geologist must have
a 4-year college degree and be sponsored by their peers and superiors for
registration. History, however, shows that a 4-year college degree and
recommendations by peers and superiors does not prove that a candidate has the
academic preparation or understanding of geology necessary to practice geology
that affects the public or the environment.
Geologists make use of their special knowledge for the benefit of others. No profession affects the public more than geology. "Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice, " a popular quotation with much merit.
Why register geologists?
The application of geologic data are integral parts of many actions involving public health, safety, and welfare (including the public's financial welfare). Professional geologists working with others can determine and apply sound geologic procedures that will serve to avoid endangerment of the public or the environment.
How will the public be protected?
First, no one may be represented as a geologist unless duly registered. Second, registration boards are typically endowed with the authority to monitor and enforce the registration law.
Who can become registered as a geologist?
While it will vary from state to state, typically individuals who have a college degree in geology and four more years of geological work experience can qualify for registration. In all states which have fully implemented their registration laws, two or more examinations are also required to demonstrate minimum competence in both the fundamentals and the practice of geology.
Registration assures that qualified reputable individuals provide accurate geologic information to the public in such areas as - a few of which may include the following:
groundwater resource and development protection
oil and gas development
safe oil, gas, water, or mineral drilling
accurate and reliable information to government agencies for public use
environmental geology issues
land surface stability
sanitary landfill siting
toxic, nuclear, and hazardous waste disposal siting
contaminated soil and groundwater investigations
acid mine drainage
dam and impoundment construction
Geology sounds a lot like engineering.
What's the difference?
Geologists are trained to consider the entire physical environment, the materials that compose it and the dynamic processes that drive it. Engineers are more concerned with facility design including material and structural properties, construction considerations, and safety factors.
Geologists and engineers generally work together making sure that all natural and man-made influences are considered in a project.
Why don't geologists register as engineers?
Geologists have education and professional experience that is specifically directed toward investigating the earthen materials that affect the public.
No other profession has similar education and professional experience.
Why not hire engineers to certify geologists' work?
For public protection, persons can only certify work for which they were trained in the fundamental geologic principles and have the necessary experience. Geologists are trained and have experience in geologic interpretation of earthen materials; engineers are trained and have experience in designing and building. These are two distinctly different professions. However, because of the close relations between those who interpret and those who design and build, geologists and engineers must work together and in a supportive fashion.
Can an engineer register as a geologist?
Yes, if qualified as a geologist.
How do they work together?
Geologists interpret, engineers design and build. Geologists investigate earth materials and processes and advise how to compensate for those conditions to assure safety. Engineers take this information, and working with geologists, determine how to design and build safe structures.
What will it cost taxpayers?
Nothing. Registration is typically self-funded by fees paid by the registrants.
Who serves on registration boards?
Ordinarily, these boards are composed of representatives from the profession and the public. The board members are generally appointed by state governors with the advice and consent of the legislature.
Do any states register geologists?
Yes. Twenty-eight states and one US territory (Puerto Rico) now have registration, licensure, or certification laws: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Note: To find out the latest on states which are actively pursuing registration laws visit our Member Board States page on this site.
A need for a creditable means to evaluate the effectiveness of baccalaureate degree programs in geology will become even more imperative because of limited financial resources, increased academic competition, enrollment declines and changing characteristics of academic programs.
A survey to assist in the development of a performance-indicator system for state universities was recently completed by Texas A&M University. Survey forms were sent to state policy makers, faculty and staff at state universities, students at selected state universities, opinion leaders, and families with 17- and 18-year-old children living at home. The respondents indicated that only two of the commonly used evaluation measures were considered valuable and reliable indicators for the effectiveness of academic programs: the percentage of courses taught by tenured faculty, and success of graduates on licensure examinations. Various other measures were all considered to be less significant measures of the effectiveness of academic programs.
Twenty-eight states now register/license geologists. All require registrants to pass examinations on the fundamentals and practice of geology, similar to the examination requirements for many other licensed professions---engineering, law, and medicine.
In many engineering programs the national fundamentals of engineering examination developed and administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Science (NCEES) is required of students during the senior year. The cumulative results of these examinations have provided a significant measure of the program effectiveness and have assisted graduates in their effort to become licensed professional engineers.
The National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG®), an organization of state registration/licensure boards, has developed and administers, in concert with state boards, national examinations for the licensure of professional geologists. The Fundamentals of Geology (FG) examination assumes that registration candidates have a bachelor=s degree in geology. This examination can be used to evaluate academic programs in geology and to prepare graduates for their first step into careers as licensed professional geologists. Use of ASBOG®=s FG examination as an exit examination, even in states without licensure laws, will meet two important goals: evaluation of academic programs as well as preparation for licensure in states with licensure laws.
The use of ASBOG®=s Fundamentals of Geology examination as an exit examination, however, may be restricted by some state licensure laws. Therefore, geology departments must contact their respective state registration boards for details.