Issue 70: Meeting the Requirements for Continuing Education
By James D. Lake
When it comes to continuing education for professional engineers the
requirements vary widely from state to state, Washington DC and Puerto
Rico. According to the National Society of Professional Engineers1
thirteen states as well as Washington, DC and Puerto Rico have no
continuing education requirements whatsoever. The requirements are
broken out into five categories; 1) Number of hours, 2) Renewal, 3)
Pre-Approval, 4) Self-Study and 5) Special Requirements.
Number of Hours
The number of hours ranges from 8-15 hours annually.
Renewal requirements range from annually to biennially to triennially.
Of the thirty-seven states have some form of
continuing education (CE) requirement, the overwhelming majority (33) do
not have any requirements for pre-approval of continuing education
programs. Only Florida, New York, Oklahoma and North Carolina have
When it comes to the source of the training, less than half of the
states (17) permit a self-study program. In seven of those states, the
self-study is subject to restrictions such as a limit on the number of
hours that can be atrtained by self-study or the need for an exam upon
conclusion of the study.
One phrase that appears regularly in the matrix of requirements appears
in the "special requirements" column, and that is that the educational
program must be "related” or "relevant” to the profession of
To most professional engineers, this is not necessarily surprising,
nor is it a source of great stress. But with so few specific
requirements, it is critical to evaluate each educational program for
relevance, not just because of any mandate, but so valuable time is not
wasted. Training and education programs should be evaluated on five
criteria: continuing education units, course description, learning
objectives, assessment methods and instructor qualifications.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
The education and training industry relies heavily upon the CEU. A CEU
is equal to 10 hours of learner contact with the content of the
learning activity (includes classroom, self-paced instruction, pre/post
assignments, and/or homework in support of a learning outcome). But in
states where pre-approval is required, there may be a different means of
calculating. It is important to verify that CEUs are coordinated with
the training hours requirements in each state. Typically, a full day of
training results in less than 8 hours of learner contact with the
content. Simply because the schedule says 8am to 4pm does not mean the
course provides eight hours of training.
Learner readiness is affected by the availability and timeliness of
information prior to the learning event. Information that assists the
learner may include program content, prerequisites, learning outcomes
and expectations, required instructor/learner interaction, continuing
learning units to be awarded, learner-required technological competence
and skills, technical equipment requirements, support services, and cost
and payment policies. This information should be provided to learners
before they decide to attend a learning event.
Clear Learning Objectives
In order to select a relevant learning event, it is critical to note
the learning objectives. Learning objectives are statements that
identify the performance the learner should be able to accomplish, the
conditions under which the learner is to perform, and the criteria for
Providers should avoid vague language, such as "understand,” "know,”
demonstrate knowledge of,” etc. Instead, they should use specific
language such as "identify,” " analyze,” or "discuss,” which can measure
whether educational objectives have been met through assessment.
Assessment methods demonstrate mastery of knowledge and skills
identified for each learning event. How people demonstrate mastery of
learning outcomes depends on the level of knowledge or skill intended.
If hands-on application of a skill must be demonstrated, then some
observation of demonstrated activity should occur during the learning
event, with feedback from qualified reviewers or the instructor. If
knowledge is the desired learning outcome, then some form of assessment
demonstrating that knowledge was attained is necessary. If critical
thinking or comprehensive thinking is part of the learning outcome, then
some form of critical analysis or problem solving should occur during
or at the end of the course. If assessments are used, but not completed
until sometime after the learning event has occurred, then credit should
not be awarded until the assessments have taken place.
It is imperative that individuals involved in the program development
and delivery are qualified in their assigned roles. This means that
they are competent in the learning event content, credentialed or
trained in planning or facilitating the learning event, and
knowledgeable in instructional methods and learning processes.
Knowledge in the underlying subject matter alone does not qualify
someone as a skilled instructor. Some instructors are experts in some
content area but lack the knowledge and skills necessary to translate
that expertise into effective learning for others. Program planners rely
on their own values, perceptions, and experience in making planning
decisions. Accordingly, they must be prepared by virtue of their
education and/or experience to plan, administer, and/or conduct and
deliver learning events and programs for adults. This can be
accomplished by reviewing the credentials of the persons involved in
program planning and instruction.
James D. Lake is with the National Fire Sprinkler Association
"CEU Requirements - Engineering," National Society of Professional Engineers, Alexandria, VA, 2012.
1st Quarter 2012 - What's Up With Mandatory Continuing Professional Competency? -- Chris Jelenewicz, P.E.
As the trend toward mandatory continuing professional competency (CPC)
continues to rise, there are many unanswered questions about the best
way to ensure life-long learning in the profession of fire protection
engineering. This article attempts to answer some of the questions fire
protection engineers may have as they navigate the CPC system. READ MORE
1st Quarter 2012 - A "Roundtable" Discussion on the Education of Fire Protection Engineers -- Moderated by Morgan Hurley, P.E., FSFPE
The education programs that teach fire protection engineering have had
to evolve to stay ahead of the profession. The Society of Fire
Protection Engineers conducted a roundtable discussion of 11 leading
faculty members from universities that offer degree programs in fire
protection engineering. The purpose was to gain insight into the
academic focus of the programs, the challenges that they face, and their
vision of the future. READ MORE
4th Quarter 2012 - Fire Safety Engineering Education - Part of a Certification Framework -- Peter Johnson, CP Eng.
A discussion of efforts underway in Australia to improve fire safety
engineering design education; adopt a national approach to
accreditation; establish certification of fire safety engineers and all
practitioners in the industry, based on established levels of competency
appropriate to their roles; and develop compulsory requirements to
carry adequate PI and PL insurance. READ MORE
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