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August 2017

The "Should I Stay or Should I Go" Conundrum

Mark A Grevas, PE (PA, SC, NC and GA) graces "The Credential" this month sharing his relocation experiences and alerts you to additional issues for consideration before making a career move.

It has almost been two years since I was recruited to write an article which addresses moving an all-important occupational credential to a new state. I told the story of how I failed to get my credential before moving, was let go and eventually did get that license in my new state. The goal of this article is to give you an even greater appreciation for maintaining those pesky continuing education requirements and managing the credentials you so heavily rely on.

First, let's touch on the consequences of not protecting your career with some hidden details on the damage to any career that such a move can make.


Without work to go to each day, I did not need the studio apartment I was using weekdays. So, I gave it up. That cost a month and a half of rent to get out of the lease, and another month of giving required notice.

There was a fee for a lawyer to represent me in my telephonic unemployment hearing.

Another expense associated with being out of work was my effort to get licensed in South Carolina and anywhere else that was convenient. In addition to the application fee in South Carolina, the transcript review was almost four times the application fee. And then the NCEES records which have changed since then, but in total I spent hundreds of dollars there. Licenses in North Carolina and Georgia set me back further for the applications and, in Georgia, for the wall art which proclaimed my legal authority to practice engineering in that state. Not that I have done so to date.

We can include the expenses of travel while looking for work. Many long drives to interviews throughout South Carolina, into North Carolina and then Virginia. Then there was my successful trip back up to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York City, and Washington, DC for interviews. There were hotel rooms involved in that five-day excursion.

And on top of it all, the largest cost was that generally egregious by-product of not having a job that is not receiving income. For the twenty months, six days and about twenty hours before I did finally get a job, I lost more that one hundred sixty thousand dollars. So, I was also spending money on the above items that I just did not have.

I hope that all of you appreciate how the love of my life stood by me each day and encouraged me to do what I had to do to find work.


In realizing that there are no paychecks on my immediate horizon, I turned to the internet to find a new job. I signed up to sights, kept detailed records and monitored requests for proposals coming out of the state to learn the local landscape. Turns out that was pretty much six months of wasted effort. Because for as many interviews I went on, saying that I was working my South Carolina license just didn't meet employer expectations.

My initial article discussed how my South Carolina license effort went, but since I also applied to North Carolina and Georgia to expand my possibilities. Applying to those states was simple and convenient. Each has written into their law methods for comity or reciprocity that include if you have a license elsewhere, several years of applicable experience and the NCEES records to prove it, you can get a license. So, while they also have the EAC/ABET requirement to take the test to acquire your first license, they recognize the validity of licenses of other states. It was an interesting education on licensing.


So, eventually, I now had four licenses. Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina. And four sets of continuing education requirements to go with them. They are all different. One state requires twenty-four professional development hours (PDH) every two years, one is fifteen for their yearly renewal while the other states are thirty for a two year period. Also, the jurisdictions allow for some carry over of excess credits, but if you earn more than about half too many, the rest remain unused. That is the unusual place I find myself in today. My Pennsylvania renewal is due and I will be about 40 PDH's over, even after I bank 12 on my next license.

So, how did I get to such a surplus? First you have to understand how PDH credits are earned and what makes them so important. You get them for training sessions, seminars, conferences with project presentations and at professional society meetings when speakers are invited, there is a certificate to pick up on your way out the door. You may even get them through lunch time presentations made at your own company. This last one can include sales presentations wherein the product is generically mentioned but the technology is developed in detail. It can also include co-worker presentations on their area of expertise in a far-off office.

One side benefit of earning a single PDH or even a dozen or more of them is the opportunity to meet other professionals in your business. Most call it networking, others call it meeting people in the industry, but I simply call it marketing. It may be getting that little known company name out there or, for large firms, it may involve creating personal relationships with client representatives. But either way, it is discussing your services, your company, your expertise and even your first-hand experiences so that a connection is made so that future work may be shared.

In fact, there are so many ways to get a professional development hour that there should never be a reason, enough PDH's cannot be earned for each license renewal. The marketing or "meet and greet" benefit is the primary reason that professionals want to meet PDH requirements.

Besides training, companies send people to conferences, seminars and create their own presentations for professional development in efforts to market the company to potential clients and raise the visibility of their people in the industry.

Okay, I digress. We haven't discussed how I got to such a surplus for my upcoming license renewal. It is a simple story really, after a rocky start that is.

Two weeks before being let go by the firm in South Carolina, I got back from a two week training session, three states away, for a federally mandated certification. That training alone was worth 67 PDH's. Added to some I had from Pennsylvania prior to moving to South Carolina, I really had no need to pursue more before my next Pennsylvania renewal. And while not working, I renewed that license and carried 12 PDH's over for my upcoming license. So essentially, I used about half of the sixty-seven.

When I went back to work the company offered continuing education through lunch time seminars. Taking advantage was certainly a no-brainer. Then to raise my own visibility in a new area, I attended a handful of professional society meetings which, if you needed them, offered certificates for the evening's presentation. Then the company sent me twice to a national conference so that our name would become more recognizable in the industry. Just one of those was more than enough for my needs because of the 12 I had banked.

All set, correct? No, that only got me to maybe a dozen over the requirement. To lead the company into a certain type of work in Pennsylvania, I needed an "extension" of the national certification I went to training for three years prior. It involved a week of classes in Harrisburg. Seven and half hours for four days and five and one-half hours on Friday, let's see, that's another 37 PDH credits. It is even shown on my certification for the class.

But let's not forget I am still attending professional meetings, now in Western Pennsylvania, to meet and greet other professionals doing what I have made my career doing...creating marketing opportunities and having to lug home that ever present PDH certificate.

So, where do I put them all?

Mark concludes his professional career journey diary with a question. "So, where do I put them all?"...those "pesky" continuing education certificates. is the solution. We manage all licensing requirements and records concerning your professional credentials. Give us a call at 913-608-7880.

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