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RE: SECB Certification Program for SE's

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While I certainly won't really disagree with Stan, I would like to add to
his comments.

While it is certainly true that the certification effort originally
proposed and now apparently being put in place has really NOTHING to do
with licensing in a direct manner (they are two different animals), there
certainly was an hoped-for, yet indirect, relationship.

In the short term, certification will be as Stan put it "client-driven".
This may take the form of "quality clients" wishing for it as Stan put.
Or it could take the form of "not-so quality clients" being forced to use
certified structural engineers by their insurance companies (i.e.
earthquake insurance companies).  Several people on the committee when I
was involved had made the point that insurance companies would likely be a
huge driving force behind certification (i.e. they seems to really like
the idea).  All this will be the short to mid range effect/goal.

The longer range goal is to have it potentially become part of the
licensing process.  As Stan pointed out, licensure is done by the states
and will likely remain so (unless the "state's rights" arguements are
overcome and national licensing comes into existance...not likely).  And
as such the certification board/group will not grant or deal with issuing
licenses.  It could, however, end up that states MAY choose to decide to
say that "in order to become a licensed structural engineer in our state,
all you need do is be a certified structural engineer and pay the
administrative fee".  This is because for all intents and purposes, the
certification process will be very much like the licensure process (i.e.
some period of formal education such as 4 years, some period of work
experience such as 4 years now required by most states, and take & pass
some exams).  So, it will be relatively easy for a state to just have the
certification body deal with verifying education and experience and then
administering the exams.

Now, as Stan pointed out, the things in the way of uniform SE licensing is
basically two fold: 1) convincing people/states that there is a need for
seperate SE licensing and 2) coming up with a uniform process that all
states will accept.  The certification process (I believe...based upon the
direct things were heading when I left the committee...but I have not kept
track) was being kind of designed to handle #2 by way of having a base
certification and then specialties.  This could then allow a state such as
California to require base certification AND specialty certification in
seismic design, if they decided to make use of the certification system in
their licensing program.  While this will not really mean a uniform
licensing system, it would potentially ease the process quite a bit (i.e.
you only deal with the certification folks for work experience, education
and exam theory...but then deal with the states on paying an
admin fee and then following the states rules/regulations of practice,
which WOULD likely still vary from state to state).

Item #1 is the bigger hurdle in my mind.  This requires convincing
politicians that there is a need for seperate licensing.  This will mean
"fighting" against those PEs who either practice structural engineering
full time, but don't want to go through the effort additional exams, etc
AND those PEs who in general do "general" civiling engineering but do on
occasion do structural engineering and won't want to have to get a
seperate license just for the minor structural engineering work that they
do.  To some degree, this issue gets a little easier with certification in
place as then states don't have to worry about figuring out what exam to
require and then administering that exam in some fashion.  But, it does
not really make it that much easier.

So, I think Stan was right on point for the most part.  Certification is
NOT licensing, but that does not mean that it is not hoped/meanted to
change how licensing is done, maybe even to the point of becoming part of
the licensing process...if the states decide to go in that direction.


Adrian, MI

On Wed, 23 Jun 2004, Caldwell, Stan wrote:

> Nels:
> Most structural engineers would certainly like to have uniform SE licensing in all states.  That would require consensus in the thinking of 55 state and territorial legislatures, both with respect to the need for separate (from PE) SE licenses as well as the specific requirements for earning and maintaining those licenses.  These are lofty goals that probably are not attainable in our lifetimes.  Nationwide certification by the profession is being offered as an alternate and interim step toward uniformity and recognition.
> Stan
> PS:  Look for an all-new NCSEA website next month!
> `,,``,,``,,`
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Nels Roselund, SE [mailto:njineer(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 4:35 PM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: Re: SECB Certification Program for SE's
> Thanks, Stan for the thorough explanation.
> On first reading, the notice that I received from the SECB did not seem to make a clear distinction between licensure and certification in the way that you explained it.  It requests support for Certification, but the stated goals deal with licensing.  However, as I it read carefully, I guess that that is the intent -- it will use the influence of Certificated SE's to work for national uniformity of SE licensing standards.
> Nels Roselund
> Structural Engineer
> South San Gabriel, CA
> njineer(--nospam--at)
>   _____
> 	----- Original Message -----
> 	From: Caldwell, Stan <mailto:scaldwell(--nospam--at)>
> 	To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> 	Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 1:25 PM
> 	Subject: RE: SECB Certification Program for SE's
> 	Nels:
> 	Structural engineering certification should eventually be a broadly supported program.  It was approved by a 2/3 vote of the NCSEA member organizations on 12/15/03 after several years of debate and development.  Several western states were particularly strong proponents, including: Texas, California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Hawaii.  Illinois was the leading opponent.  SECB was subsequently created by NCSEA as an entirely separate non-profit organization.  The SECB board of directors includes representatives from NCSEA, SEI, and CASE.
> 	Certification should not be confused with licensure.  Professional licenses are issued by state agencies and are required of all practitioners.  That will never change.  Certification is a separate and supplemental process of self-regulation directly by the profession.  Doctors, lawyers, accountants, and many other professions have had certification programs in place for decades.  Structural engineering certification will not seek, and will not require, endorsement by state PE boards.  However, over time, the certification program should serve to encourage both uniformity and specialization of SE licensure by the states.
> 	Certification is voluntary, and the need will be client-driven.  Eventually, it is hoped that most "quality" clients will prefer to use certified structural engineers.  As this occurs, most good structural engineers will want to be certified.  Of course, the smart ones will do so at the earliest opportunity and thereby take advantage of what is expected to be a broad grandfathering program.
> 	HTH,
> 	Stan R. Caldwell, P.E., F.ASCE, F.AEI
> 	Chair, NCSEA Advocacy Committee
> 	~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> 	Vice President
> 	Halff Associates, Inc.
> 	8616 Northwest Plaza Drive
> 	Dallas, Texas  75225
> 	Phone:  (214) 346-6280
> 	Fax:  (214) 739-0095
> 	Email:  scaldwell(--nospam--at) <mailto:scaldwell(--nospam--at)>
> 	Website: <>
> 	~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> 	I've received an announcement that NCSEA has voted to establish an independent national SE certification board [SECB] to help establish SE licensing in all 50 states; establish uniform standards for examinations, licensure and practice throughout the U.S.; and define education and training levels for SE Licensure.
> 	The letter is from SECB and requests prepayment of certification fees, projected to be $350; as initial capitalization for SECB.
> 	Is this a broadly supported effort?  Is it likely to be endorsed by State Boards of Registration?  Is this an program that all good SE's should support, ignore, or wait and see?
> 	Nels Roselund
> 	Structural Engineer
> 	South San Gabriel, CA
> 	njineer(--nospam--at)

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