Monday, August 22, 2011

PG problems

When I moved here from grad school and started job-hunting, I quickly realized that I needed to be registered as a professional geologist (PG) in this state. I had spent my pre-grad school years in a state that didn't have any PG certification, so this was all new to me. When I started the application process, I found the following requirements:

1. must have taken particular courses
2.required courses must be worth a particular number of credit hours
3. must have at least x number of years of geologic work supervised by a PG
4. take a big exam

So what's the problem?

1. I got a straight geology degree, and they had fairly standard requirements, but I didn't get all of the recommended courses then. I picked up some additional somewhat relevant courses in grad school, but they weren't necessarily from the geology department. So...maybe I was ok for this requirement?

2. Neither my undergrad or grad school gave credits by the credit hour. Each used a slightly different credit system. I never did find a simple conversion for either. I don't know - I took full courses in accredited institutions. Isn't that sufficient?

3. I've never been supervised by a PG. I haven't had an official supervisor who was even a geologist. I've had lots of unofficial mentors who had a combination of registrations, and peers who were PGs. Is that ok? Also, I fit the full length of experience requirements in my old state. Can some of that experience transfer, or is it only experience it this new state that counts?

4. I've been out of (undergrad) school a long-ass time. How much memory do you think I've retained from those classes I took more than 10 years ago? Stuff like paleontology fell out of my head years ago, and I was flummoxed by way too many of the example test questions.

This whole process was intimidating. So I asked all the PGs I know how their application went. Turns out EVERY SINGLE GEOLOGIST I know who has a PG applied before the tests (and other requirements) were put in place and never had to jump through all those hoops. If I were just a couple years older, I too could have been grandfathered in. But I'm not.

In my instructing gig, I meet lots of different junior-level scientists. The number of geologists I've met who are trying to get a PG in this state, but who have been stymied by various requirements, is astounding.

I think part of the problem is poor communication by the board that oversees PG licensure, and that some of those folks probably would be accepted based on the totality of their record. The other part of the problem is also one of "place". It looks like the board expects a certain applicant: one who went to the big state university (which evidently reports their coursework in credit hours), worked for a big firm that had an official mentoring system for new geologists, and spent their entire career in this state. Too bad I'm not that applicant.

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