It’s Important to Ensure That Your Licensing Applications are Positioned for Approval the First Time Around
By Jerri-Lynn Wier, J.D.
For large engineering firms, keeping up with changes in state licensing requirements can be a challenge. To help your firm maintain compliance, we’ve gathered these highlights of recent changes in the regulatory landscape.
The Alabama board recently clarified that providing proposed pricing for engineering work prior to being properly selected based on qualifications violates state law. The fee may be negotiated after a selection is made, and at that point, the client may make another selection if the price is unsatisfactory. Providing pricing in advance may lead to disciplinary action by the board.
The Alaska board updated regulations to stipulate that an engineer in responsible charge of a discipline may grant other engineers who are registered in that discipline the authority to seal drawings on behalf of the firm. This does not relieve the engineer in responsible charge from responsibility for the work.
Regulations were also updated to clarify that while the state requires a licensee in every office, firms do not need a licensee in each office for every engineering discipline. Engineers may be in responsible charge of work done within their discipline through other offices so long as the company has at least one engineer who is regularly employed and licensed in that discipline. The board defined regularly employed as working at least 20 hours per week.
The board also updated requirements to add structural engineering registration by comity, among other changes. The changes took effect in March 2019.
In 2018, Connecticut tightened ownership requirements for engineering firms. Professional corporations and limited liability companies must be at least 66.67 percent owned and controlled by Connecticut-licensed engineers or land surveyors. This is part of a larger, ongoing trend of increasing ownership requirements for engineering firms.
District of Columbia
The D.C. board recently implemented continuing professional competency (CPC) requirements of 20 hours per renewal cycle for P.E.s and 12 hours for land surveyors.
The District has yet to release an application for the design firm license introduced in 2017. The license, when implemented, will encompass architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture.
In February 2019, the board approved a new application for P.E. licensure by reciprocity for Model Law Engineers (MLEs). Applicants may submit an official National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying record to the board showing their MLE designation for expedited processing.
The Hawaii board recently clarified that for licensing purposes, experience must be supervised by a licensed professional in the same jurisdiction. If work is done in Hawaii, the licensed supervisor needs to be licensed in Hawaii.
Maine’s licensing board voted in January to permit engineering graduates working under the supervision of a licensed P.E. to use the title “engineer” so long as they have graduated from an approved degree program, such as an accredited engineering or engineering technology program, and are working under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer.
Effective May 13, 2019, Minnesota enacted new rules to allow applicants for the Architect Registration examination and the Fundamentals of Engineering examination to apply directly to their respective national councils to take the examination.
Nebraska recently eliminated the requirement for firms to secure a separate certificate of authorization for every branch office location. Nebraska still requires a resident engineer in responsible charge for each branch office.
Oklahoma is now requiring foreign qualification in order to obtain firm licensing. This requirement has become nearly universal for engineering firms.
In Oregon, licensed professional firms, including engineering firms, will likely need separate name approval in order to obtain a license.
In September 2018, the South Dakota board ruled that the Structural Engineering I exam alone would no longer be accepted as a Principles and Practice of Engineering (P.E.) exam. Applicants must pass the Structural Engineering I and II exams to qualify for licensure.
The Lone Star State has introduced an online firm registration system to make it easier to submit your license application.
In April 2019, the Vermont board issued guidance on the distinction between civil and structural engineering qualifications, noting that applicants for civil licensure sometimes provide a record of experience that is substantially structural. The state requires applicants for licensure to demonstrate progressive experience in the appropriate specialty discipline. The board also affirmed that experience toward an advanced degree may not also be used to satisfy real-world experience requirements.
In October 2018, the West Virginia board published updated regulations stipulating that firms with the word “engineer” or “engineering” in their names, or firms planning to offer engineering services in West Virginia, must obtain a certificate of authorization from the engineering board before registering with the secretary of state.
Grow With Confidence
For engineering firms, the license review process is measured in months rather than days in many states, so it’s important to ensure that your applications are positioned for approval the first time around. By staying on top of the nuances from state to state, you can safeguard your firm’s compliance and move forward with confidence in pursuit of the next opportunity.
Harbor Compliance is not an accounting or law firm and does not provide tax, financial, or legal advice.