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Thoughts on Professional


                              Practice and Education


                              Article 5: Removing Examination Pre-requisites
                              By: Knud E. Hermansen   P.L.S., P.E., Ph.D., Esq.
                                                        †


        About the Author:

           Knud E. Hermansen began his surveying career in the United States   After many years at other firms he currently has his own practice consult-
         Marine Corp. over 30 years ago and spent over 20 years in the military re-  ing on matters pertaining to boundary disputes, easements, land develop-
         serves much of it with engineering and construction units within the Unit-  ment, liability, title, and contract issues.
         ed States Army Corp of Engineers.                       He is the author of numerous books and articles and taught at Penn
           He has a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Pennsylvania State University   State University for four years. Although retired, he currently teaches 3 to
         and a law degree from West Virginia University. He is a licensed profes-  4 courses per semester at the University of Maine in their civil engineering
         sional engineer, a licensed professional land surveyor and attorney at law.   technology program.


           his is the fifth article I have prepared in the series offering   Once the graduate is employed, vacation time or personal days
        Tthoughts on professional practice and education. In this article, I   must often be used for testing. Time off from work must often be
        wish to discuss the timing of professional exams. In particular, I wish   scheduled in advance and authorized only when work allows. While
        to advocate allowing an applicant to take their licensing exams be-  college can be stressful, the stress of college often pales in compari-
        fore obtaining any required experience.                son to balancing family responsibility, home, and work commitments.
          There are two common models of examination sequence found   The second reason for allowing all tests while in college or short-
        in the United States. The first model, that appears to be most com-  ly after graduation is the extent of retained surveying knowledge.
        mon at the present time, requires the applicant take the profes-  Broad knowledge of surveying is usually at a maximum retention
        sional surveyor exam and state specific exam after the experience   just before or soon after graduation. Therefore, the best chance to
        requirements have been met.                            pass all three exams with minimum study is at or near graduation.
          The second model is to permit an applicant to take all three exams   Some would argue that testing the graduate on knowledge re-
        at or near graduation and before meeting minimum qualifications.   tention after the graduate has some experience is a reasonable
          There was a third model that may still be present in some states.   procedure to protect the public’s safety. Perhaps this statement is
        The third model was to require the experience first then allow the   true. Yet, on that basis, all licensed surveyors should be periodically
        applicant for licensing to take all the exams within a short window   tested from time to time to insure knowledge retention after the
        of time. When I was first licensed almost fifty years ago, I took the   passage of time. I suspect there are very few licensed surveyors that
        first exam one day and the second exam the very next day.  would advocate that they be subject to periodic retesting to ensure
                                                               knowledge retention.
          In this article, I would like to advocate that states allow an appli-
        cant to take the exams on sequential days at or near graduation. I   Having given my opinion, I now offer advice by suggesting pro-
        offer two reasons for my position.                     fessional societies encourage statute or rule changes allowing all
                                                               exams be taken near or at graduation. Of course, the soon-to-be
          For my first reason, I would suggest that taking the professional   graduate has another option. The student can apply to test in a
        exams near graduation is the best time in life’s journey to schedule   state that does allow all testing at or near graduation. The applicant
        and have time to take the exams. By the time the graduate achieves   does not need to journey to a particular state since NCEES offers
        the pre-requisite experience for licensure, they are often married –   the same exams at testing centers throughout the United States.
        perhaps with young children, involved in community activities, and   Perhaps the applicant would have to delay taking the state specific
        have a full employment commitment. It is difficult to find time to   exam until they are eligible for licensing within that state. Of course,
        study or even take time off from work for testing. College breaks   the one hurdle that may arise from this recommendation is a state
        are usually far less stressful and a less busy time than the hectic and   that will not accept the NCEES test score for an exam taken before
        stressful work schedule a graduate will encounter after graduation.   experience was achieved. I know of at least one state that will not
        To emphasize this, let me remind surveyors that as a full-time stu-  accept the PE exam score if the PE exam was taken before experi-
        dent in college, the student could count on two to three weeks off   ence was met. I know this does not make much sense but bureau-
        at Christmas, one week off during Thanksgiving, and a one or two-  cracies and their rules often do not make sense.n
        week spring break. College breaks were known well in advance, al-
        lowing for professional test scheduling.               † Other books and articles by Knud can be found at https://umaine.edu/
                                                               svt/faculty/hermansen-articles/



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