Frequently asked questions about geologic licensure in New York State
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the bill to establish the profession of geology in New York State on November 21, 2014. The signing of the bill into law was recorded as Chapter #475, with Approval Memo #10.
The Governor's memorandum approving the law references that Chapter Amendments are needed to correct a few minor technical errors. The amendments were shared with the NYSCPG's Legislative Sponsors for their approval prior to implementation. The amendments will be passed through both the Senate and Assembly during the 2015 Legislative session.
The law has an effective date of two years, meaning that licensure will begin on November 21, 2016. The two-year window is to provide the State Education Department the needed time to produce the regulations to add geology to the list of professions in the state of New York.
The period of crafting the regulation will be followed by a one year grandfathering period in which a license can be obtained by a qualified person without the requirement of passing a written exam. Passage of an exam will be required after November 21, 2017. It is the goal of NYSCPG to use the national exam produced by ASBOG, but this provision will need to written into the yeti-to-be-crafted regulations.
The law states that a candidate must be qualified to apply for a professional license in New York. A qualified person is defined by:
Education: Have received an education, including a Bachelor's or higher degree in geological sciences, in accordance with the regulations.
Experience: Have at least five years of practical experience satisfactory to the Board in appropriate geologic work; up to one year of experience may be credited for an advanced degree (Masters, Doctorate, or and equivalent thereof) in accordance with the regulations.
Age: Be at least 21 years of age.
Character: Be of good moral character as defmed by SED.
Twelve years of practical experience in geological work of a grade and character satisfactory to the Board may be accepted to replace the Education and Experience requirement.
New York State does not have a reciprocity license category for any of its professions. An out of-state applicant would need to apply for a standard resident license similar to a NYS resident. If an applicant has passed a written exam that is on par with what NY requires (hopefully the ASBOG exam), then those test results can be submitted for an application in New York. An out-of-state applicant may apply for a "grandfather" license, if they meet the remaining qualifications and apply during the grandfathering period. Residency in NY is not a requirement of applying for a professional license.
IMPORTANT: More details on corporation structures, the process, and other developments will follow in the corning months through the NYSCPG newsletters, website, and/or bulletins to members, so please be sure that we have your current contact information.
We encourage anyone who is not currently a member to consider joining to stay aware and get the straight facts about the path of our profession.
A common misconception is that everyone will be required to hold a professional geologist license, but that is not the case. A license will be required for those geologists who are or wish to become an owner, officer, etc. of firms offering geological services, or individuals wishing to provide professional services. Additionally, future New York Stare officers and employees of a certain grade will be required to possess a license. Employees who work under a licensed professional, persons working for a firm offering engineering services, and current state officers and employees will not be required to hold a license. The geologic licensure requirements will be analogous to the current practice of professional engineering.
The fee structure of the licensing law requires paying an initial application fee of $220, plus a triennial licensing fee of$210 that covers the first 3 years. A one-time fee for person taking the written exam will be added to the initial fee schedule after the exam cost is determined. The initial licensing fee total will be $430 plus exam fee, if required. The renewal fee (following the initial three years) will be $210 every three years, resulting in a net $70 per year licensing maintenance fee.
All of the licensure fees go directly to the Office of the Professions in the NY State Education Department. The Office of Professions receives no external funds from the state and relies on licensing fees to cover it operational costs, including Licensing Board meetings, researching complaints against licensed professionals, and staff costs.
Corporations conducting business in geology-related fields (offering geologic services) in New York will need to re-incorporate with the NYS Department of State into Professional Corporations. A company offering services labeled as strictly engineering would not need to re incorporate, but will not be able to advertise professional geology services, nor use any employee's professional geologist stamp. Significantly, once in effect, the law will allow geologists to enter partnerships with members of our sister professions.
The current tract of the regulation process would require all geologist-owned companies in NY to re-incorporate from business or general corporations into professional corporations. There will not be a grandfathering of an existing corporation per se, but the Council hopes to work with the state to establish a pre-qualification period for existing companies.
The Council's objective in 2015 is to craft legislation to allow the needed modification as a name change, instead of closing one company and forming a new entity. Similar legislation was passed for businesses owned by engineers and land surveyors in 2012 when the Design Professionals Corporation (DPC) law was instituted. The Council's lobbyist is reviewing the DPC law to prepare similar language for geologists. The objective is to allow individuals to continue practicing as an NYS Subchapter S-Corp, for example, but with the designation of a professional corporation.
For more information regarding the design professional corporation (DPC) structure, the NYS Office of the Professions has information at http://www.op.nysed.gov/corp/pcorpdpc.htm. NYSCPG will provide additional information as it becomes available in the coming months.What amendments are needed? Will the amendments affect the law?
The Chapter Amendments will not change the law, but will make the language consistent among the related professions. The amendments are as follows, with strikeouts showing the removal of text and underlined words representing additions of text:
1. Paragraph g of subdivision 1 of section 7206-b of the Education Law is amended, to read as follows: (g) Fees: pay a fee of two hundred twenty dollars to the department for (admission to a department conducted examination and for] an initial license, and a fee of two hundred ten dollars for each triennial registration period.
2. Subdivision 4 of section 7206-b of the Education Law is amended, to read as follows:
4. An applicant who applies for licensure within one year after the effective date of this section shall be qualified for a license as a professional geologist without a written examination if the applicant has satisfied the requirements of education and [degree] experience described in paragraphs (b) and (c) of subdivision one or subdivision two of this section no later than one year after the effective date of this section.
3. Section 28 of Chapter xx ofthe Laws of2014, the effective date, shall be amended, to read as follows:
§ 28. This act shall take effect two years after the date on which it shall have become a law; provided however that the authority of the commissioner to promulgate regulations and the board of regents to appoint board members, and take any other action necessary for the implementation ofthis act shall take immediately.