What is geoscientist licensure? Why does the practice of geoscience require a license?
Professional Geoscientists (P.G.s) perform services that directly impact public safety. P.G.s (which include geologists, geophysicists, and soil scientists) provide an array of services that, along with other industry professionals, protect and manage groundwater and perform other vital services. Environmental P.G.s investigate potential contamination sites to determine whether remediation (clean-up) is warranted and help to plan, execute, and monitor remediation plans. Hydrogeologists perform reserve estimates of groundwater and look for new sources of groundwater. Engineering geologists evaluate soils for the structural designing of buildings, roads, and bridges. P.G.s also evaluate soil conditions as they relate to agricultural use. Licensure is a means to protect the public from unqualified and unethical practitioners of the profession. Licensing establishes a degree of legal accountability for the work product of the regulated practitioners. The State legislation establishing a licensure program defines basic experience and educational requirements that all licensees must meet. The legislation also sets civil penalties that can be enforced on licensees determined to have violated the practice and ethical standards required by the legislation.
How was Professional Geoscientist licensure established in Texas?
The Texas Geoscience Practice Act (the Act) was enacted by the 78th Texas Legislature upon passage of SB-405 in May of 2001.
How is the Act administered and enforced?
The Act established the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists (TBPG or Board), and it requires the Board to administer and enforce the Act. The Board consists of six Professional Geoscientists and three members of the public, all appointed by the Governor to implement the Act. The Board appoints an executive director, who is responsible for hiring staff and managing the day-to-day affairs of the Board. The Board has developed administrative and licensing rules (22 TAC 850 and 22 TAC 851) to implement the Act.
Where can the Act, the Rules, and other information on this licensure program be found?
Links to the Statute and Rules are available on the website, or you may contact us at (512) 936-4400 for more information.
Who must be licensed and who is exempt from licensure?
Unless the activity is exempt from the requirement of licensure by Texas Occupations Code §1002.252, any individual practicing geoscience or offering to perform geoscience work before the public, including state and local governmental entities, must be licensed. Practicing means taking “Responsible charge” of a geoscientific work product. In addition, firms or corporations who engage in the public practice of geoscience must have their geoscientific work performed by or under the supervision of a Professional Geoscientist who is responsible for and signs/seals such work. Additionally, all such firms must be registered by TBPG, unless an exemption applies in statute. For a list of exemptions, please see Texas Occupations Code 1002.252.
What are the disciplines of geoscience in which a person may be licensed?
The Board licenses three geoscience disciplines: Geology, Geophysics, and Soil Science. Applicants must select one discipline in which to be licensed; however, once licensed, a P.G. may practice in any of the disciplines, provided they are qualified.
What were the key dates in the implementation of the licensure program?
September 1, 2001: The Texas Geoscience Practice Act became effective.
September 1, 2003: A Professional Geoscientist license (P.G.) is required to engage in the non-exempt public practice of geoscience in Texas.
What are the requirements and eligibility criteria for licensure?
Please see TBPG Rule 851.20.
I am not a citizen of the United States and I do not have a social security number. Am I eligible to become certified as a Geoscientist-in-Training or to become licensed as a Professional Geoscientist? What do I need to submit to become licensed?
An applicant who is a citizen of another country shall show sufficient documentation to the TBPG to verify the immigration status for the determination of their eligibility for a professional license in accordance with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. In most cases, a copy of a current visa or something equivalent will be sufficient. For applicants from countries that have a standing trade agreement, with the US, that specifically and adequately addresses professional licensure, such as NAFTA or AUSFTA, a copy of a visa is not required; however, the applicant must identify the trade agreement under which the applicant would be working in the US, and must establish the applicant has the required legal status to work in Texas.
How do I get forms and information about licensure?
Licensing information and application forms are available from the Board’s website under the “Forms” link or they can be requested from the Board.
Can the Board waive any of the license eligibility requirements?
The Board is authorized by the Act to waive any of the eligibility requirements, except for the payment of fees. It is the responsibility of an applicant seeking eligibility requirement waivers to submit a written request for a waiver and demonstrate, to the Board’s satisfaction, justification for the requested waiver. All waiver requests undergo a rigorous review by the Application Review and Continuing Education Committee, and ultimately require a 2/3 vote of the entire Board. Please see the “Waiver Requests” page for more information. An applicant should provide a written justification, along with supporting documentation. An applicant may also appear before the Committee and the full Board to provide testimony to support the request.
Does the Board have reciprocal license arrangements with other states?
The Act authorizes the Board to enter into reciprocity or comity agreements with other states that regulate the practice of geoscience. Currently, TBPG reciprocity agreements can be viewed on the Reciprocity Agreements page. TBPG staff and Board Members continue to communicate with states seeking reciprocity agreements that have substantially equivalent requirements for licensure.
Do geoscience licenses/registrations from other states, professional society certifications, or state agency-granted certifications (e.g. TCEQ’s CAPM Certification) count towards license eligibility?
Generally speaking, they do not. However a person who is currently licensed as a Professional Geologist or Professional Geoscientist with another state and has practiced for at least 5 years under that license may be eligible for P.G. licensure in Texas without taking a qualifying licensing examination if certain criteria are met (see TBPG Rule 851.29). However, applicants are required to list all current and previously held licenses on the initial application for licensure and are encouraged to cite professional association certifications in their application as further evidence of their overall qualifications.
What is the length of the term of a license and what are the license renewal requirements?
An initial license is valid for a period of one year. After the first year of licensure, the second licensure period is adjusted so that expiration coincides with the licensee’s birth month. In order to renew a license, a licensee must submit a completed renewal application, attest to have completed the continuing education requirement, pay the renewal fee, update contact information as needed, and answer certain legal questions regarding any possible criminal and other activity.
Regarding Business Card, Advertisement, and Signature Requirements, is the individual licensee or registered firm required to place the license number or firm registration number on business cards or advertisements or on signature lines on general correspondence or e-mails?
No; business cards, advertisements, general correspondence, and e-mails are not in the category of professional geoscience services being performed for the public and do not have to include the license or registration number.
Regarding “other equivalent educational requirements.” According to the Texas Geoscience Practice Act at §1002.255(a)(2)(B) and TBPG rule §851.20(a)(4), to be eligible for a license as a Professional Geoscientist, a person must have graduated from a course of study in a discipline of geoscience satisfactory to the Board that consists of at least four years of study and includes at least 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours credit in geoscience, of which at least 20 semester hours or 30 quarter hours of credit must be in upper level college courses in that discipline or “satisfactorily completed other equivalent educational requirements, as determined by the Board.”
What are the characteristics of “other equivalent educational requirements” that would be acceptable to the Board?
The Board may consider a continuing education course that is taught as a technical/scientific course to be “equivalent educational requirements” if the course is designed to be equivalent to an upper division academic course with a primary learning objective of providing professional level education. Basic training courses, such as “first responder” or “well driller,” that are designed to provide basic skills in non-technical activities are not considered equivalent technical/scientific courses. Candidates wishing to have continuing education courses accepted as equivalent educational courses must submit a copy of a certificate of completion and the course description materials as part of their application for licensure.
Does the Board have a policy for examination waivers?
Yes. All requests for waiver of examination would need to meet the following minimum criteria in order to be considered by the Board: 1) must meet ALL other qualifications for licensure; and 2) must meet the minimum geoscience working experience practicing as a geoscientist. Degree must be in a relevant discipline. See also: Waiver of Examination Policy.
|B.S.||Fundamental Exam (Geology, Soil Science)||15 Years|
|M.S.||Fundamental Exam (Geology, Soil Science)||13 Years|
|PhD||Fundamental Exam (Geology, Soil Science)||10 Years|
Is there a fee for a waiver request? No. However, application fees are non-refundable.
What forms and/or documents are required for a waiver request? A complete application package is required. Please see also the P.G. Application Checklist.
An applicant requesting an examination waiver must also read the Exam Waiver Policy and submit a request using the following policy statement form Request for Waiver Acknowledgement (Form VI) along with any supporting documentation.
“Supporting documentation” is individualized, depending on the requirement being requested to be waived and the qualifications of the applicant submitting the request. Staff can help an applicant identify what documents and information might be helpful for a requestor to submit, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the requestor to provide to the Committee/Board the information needed to consider the merit of the request.
What is the waiver request process? Upon completion of the required forms and documentation, the request is scheduled to be reviewed by the AR/CE Committee. The committee may deny, approve, or revoke the request. Requests that are recommended for approval will be scheduled for review and vote by the Board. Requests the Committee does not recommend to approve may be scheduled for review by the full Board only at the applicant’s request.
Will I be able to attend the meetings at which my request is considered? Applicants and any witnesses are encouraged to attend the public portion of the meetings, provide testimony, and respond to questions from Board Members.
May I request reconsideration? Whenever the Board makes a decision to deny a waiver request, there is no opportunity for reconsideration for the same waiver request unless new evidence that pertains directly to the request is submitted and a request for reconsideration is made. Upon receipt of the request, the Board may choose to sustain (uphold) their original decision rather than to grant a waiver.
In the review of a request to re-review an application/waiver request because new information has been submitted, the Board will first determine by a simple majority vote whether to reconsider the application/waiver request, based on whether relevant new information has been submitted. If the Board were to determine by vote that the new information warrants the re-review of an application, the Board would then reconsider the waiver request, including all of the information available at that time. The Board will consider the re-review of a waiver request only once.