Introduction to Professional Geologist Licensure Requirements and the ASBOG® National Geology License Examinations, by the American Geosciences Institute
A license gives you governmental permission to practice applied geology in a particular state. Licences ensure that practicing geologists are qualified to undertake work that may affect public and environmental health and safety. Many employers of applied geologists in industry and government require licenses for positions beyond entry-level.
Licensure also supports your credibility as a geoscientist, and may increase your career opportunities, earning potential, and flexibility. Graduates who note on their resume that they have taken the ASBOG® Fundamentals of Geology exam have an advantage over job candidates who have not started the process of licensure (even in states that do not require a license). Employed geoscientists with a Professional Geologist license have greater flexibility for working in new areas of the field as the geoscience workforce evolves.
License requirements are set by each state requiring licensure, and may vary from state to state. To view requirements and contact information for your state, visit the ASBOG® State Index.
The typical requirements include:
1) education (typically a bachelor's degree in geology, sometimes with required courses)
2) experience (generally three to five years working under a licensed professional geologist)
3) examinations (ASBOG® Fundamentals of Geology, ASBOG® Practice of Geology, and any state-specific exams)
ASBOG® is the National Association of State Boards of Geology, which links individual state geology licensing boards. ASBOG® administers the Fundamentals of Geology and Practice of Geology exams twice per year, typically in March and October. The ASBOG® website contains detailed information on the exam application process, exam schedule, and study materials.
The Fundamentals of Geology (FG) exam tests whether you have a basic understanding of geologic principles and processes, typically obtained through an undergraduate degree in geology. This exam can be taken toward the end of your undergraduate program before completing your degree. The areas of knowledge and skills tested include: general and field geology, mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry, sedimentology, stratigraphy, paleontology, geomorphology, structure, tectonics, seismology, hydrogeology, engineering geology, economic geology, and energy resources. Further information about the FG exam can be found in the Candidate Handbook on the ASBOG® website.
The Practice of Geology (PG) exam is the final step toward licensure and is taken after you have passed the FG exam and met your state's work experience requirement. Refer to the ASBOG® Candidate Handbook for details.
To apply for the ASBOG® exams, contact your State Board Examination Administrator.
A Professional Geologist (PG) license is only issued to those who have fulfilled all state licensure requirements, including passing both the ASBOG® Fundamentals of Geology (FG) and Practice of Geology (PG) exams.
The Geologist-in-Training (GIT) certification is awarded to those who have passed the ASBOG® FG exam. While GIT is not a license to practice geology, the certification can bolster the resumes of graduates entering the workforce. The GIT certification demonstrates to your potential employer that you are competent, proactive, and on the path to advance to full licensure.
Though license requirements are state-specific, all states will accept the results of ASBOG® exams passed in another state. Some states have reciprocity agreements with other states, meaning that the states' licensing requirements are similar and geologists can obtain a license in a new state through a streamlined process. Other states require state-specific exams or additional experience.
Many traditional geology occupations in government and industry require professional geologist licenses for positions beyond entry-level. But what if you pursue other geoscience careers where licensure is not required?
Since the ASBOG® Fundamentals of Geology (FG) exam is the first step toward licensure and can be taken before or just after you graduate, many working geoscientists recommend taking the FG exam at this time. There are multiple benefits to taking the FG exam at this stage of your career:
1) your geology knowledge and skills are fresh in your mind
2) passing the FG exam demonstrates to potential employers that you have basic knowledge and skills in geoscience
3) earning the Geologist-in-Training (GIT) certification can make your resume more competitive
4) completing this first step for obtaining your license will make it easier to complete the licensure process later on if needed
Geoscientists who obtain their GIT certification or Professional Geologist license will be competitive for a wider range of positions compared to those without these qualifications. Given that the geosciences are constantly evolving to meet new societal and environmental challenges, this competitive advantage and flexibility can be key to advancing in the workforce.
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