Geology

Frequently Asked Practice Questions

We are pleased to provide you with the following list of questions and answers about licensure and practice for licensed professional geologist. This information is intended to provide general guidance to those who may have questions about licensing or professional conduct. The answers to the questions have been derived from provisions of Education Law, Commissioner's Regulations and Rules of the Board of Regents and administrative decisions made by the State Education Department. While they reflect provisions of Law, Regulation and interpretations, the legal application will depend upon the facts of a particular situation. Title VIII of the New York State Education Law and Title 8 of the Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York (8NYCRR) control both licensing and professional regulation. See pertinent sections of the Law, Rules and Regulations at www.op.nysed.gov/title8/. If you have questions that are not directly addressed by this section or believe special factual circumstances may distinguish your question from those addressed here, you are advised to consult private legal counsel or you may contact the Office of the Professions' State Board for Engineering, Land Surveying and Geology.

  1. Are state employees exempt from needing a geology license to perform their jobs?

    Answer: The state employee exemption from licensure provision applies under the following conditions:

    • The exemption applies to New York State employees, who were employed on November 21, 2016 in a position where they perform geologic services (as defined in the scope of practice of geology in the statute). If the employee is subsequently promoted to a position where they are expected to perform geologic services, they would retain their exemption from the licensure requirement.
    • The exemption from licensure does NOT apply to those who were employed by the State of New York on November 21, 2016, if at that time, they were in a position that performed work that was outside of the scope of practice of geology.
    • The exemption from licensure does NOT apply to those who were employed by the State of New York on November 21, 2016 at that time and they were in a position that was NOT in the scope of practice of geology. The exemption from licensure does NOT apply to such individuals if they are subsequently promoted to a position with job duties that are within the scope of practice for geology, because the position requires them to provide geologic services. Such individuals would need to obtain a professional geology license in NYS, since they were not exempt at the time the statute went into effect.
    • The state employee exemption does NOT apply to employees of New York City or any other municipality.
    • If an exempt New York State employee leaves state service and is employed in their new job to provide geological services, the former state employee would need to obtain a professional geology license to perform those services in New York State.

  2. What is the definition of the profession of geology in New York State?

    Answer: Section 7204-a of the Education Law defines the practice of the profession of geology as performing professional service such as researching, investigating, consulting and geological mapping, describing the natural processes that act upon the earth's materials, predicting the probable occurrence of natural resources, predicting and locating natural or human-induced phenomena which may be useful or hazardous to humankind and recognizing, determining and evaluating geological factors, and the inspection and performance of geological work and the responsible supervision thereof in furtherance of the health, safety and welfare of the public; provided, however, that geological mapping must not include the practice of land surveying as defined in section 7203 of the Education Law.

  3. In New York State, who can practice professional geology?

    Answer: Under Section 7204-b of the Education Law only a person licensed or otherwise authorized under Article 145 of the Education Law practice geology or use the title "professional geologist." A "person licensed" is an individual, who has satisfied the education, experience and examination requirements for licensure and has been issued a New York State professional geologist license by the State Education Department.

  4. Who would be considered "otherwise authorized"?

    Answer: Persons "otherwise authorized" may include an individual person (but not a New York State corporation of any kind) licensed in another state that has applied for and received a limited permit to practice for a specific time period or with respect to a specific project in accordance with the Commissioner's Regulations, part 68.11. Application information may be found on our website.

  5. What are the grand parenting provisions for licensure?

    Answer: An applicant who submits an application to the Department for licensure within one year of the November 21, 2016 effective date of statute, which would be on or before November 20, 2017, and meets the moral character, education and experience requirements may be qualified for a license as a professional geologist without a written examination. Although the grandparenting licensure pathway will expire on November 20, 2017, the licenses issued under it will not.

  6. If I am already licensed as a professional geologist in one or more states, how can I become licensed in New York State?

    Answer: The Department may license an applicant who meets all requirements for licensure in New York State, except examination, and has been issued a license or certificate to practice professional geology upon written examination by a legally constituted board of examiners in any other state or political subdivision of the United States, provided that the examination for such license or certificate was the equivalent of the examination required in this State at the time it was issued, in accordance with Commissioner's Regulations part 68.10.

  7. What is the difference between "licensure" and "registration"?

    Answer: When an individual successfully completes the licensure requirements they are awarded a professional license. The license is valid for life unless it is surrendered or revoked following disciplinary action by the Board of Regents.

    Professional geologists in New York State must register with the State Education Department every three years to practice their profession, pursuant to Commissioner's Regulations part 59.8.

  8. Is there a continuing education requirement for professional geologists licensed in New York State?

    Answer: No there is currently no continuing education requirement for NYS professional geologists.

  9. What kind of business entities can provide professional services?

    Answer: Some professionals practice their profession as individual licensed practitioners. Others practice in some sort of corporate or business entity structure. Not all such structures may legally provide professional services. The following brief descriptions are based in law and address different corporate practice venues. These descriptions provide basic information on acceptable organizational structures for professionals. This general information is no substitute for consulting the law and/or an attorney directly for guidance before deciding to practice in a specific corporate arrangement. There are many factors, including tax consequences, and personal and professional liability, to consider when deciding which form a professional practice should take.

    • Professional service corporations (PSC) authorized under Article 15 (domestic - New York) of the New York State Business Corporation Law. All shareholders, officers, and directors must be licensed by New York State in one or more of the design profession(s) they are practicing (engineering, land surveying, geology, architecture, landscape architecture).
    • Design Professional corporations (DPC) authorized under Article 15 (domestic- New York) are corporations that have the flexibility of offering an ownership interest in the corporation to non-licensees. The law requires that greater than 75% of the stock be owned by licensed design professionals, greater than 75% of the directors and officers be licensed design professionals, and that the largest single shareholder be a licensed design professional or, with certain restrictions, an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The president, chief executive officer and the chair of the board of directors also must be licensed design professionals.
    • Professional service corporations (PSC) authorized under Article 15-A (foreign PSC) of the New York State Business Corporation Law. Only the individual(s) actually providing professional services must be licensed in New York State. All other officers, directors, and shareholders must be licensed design professionals in some jurisdiction.
    • Professional limited liability companies and foreign professional limited liability companies. All members must be licensed to provide professional services in New York State.
    • Partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and foreign limited liability partnerships. All partners must be licensed to provide professional services in New York State.
    • General Business Corporations "inc."
      • General business corporations cannot provide professional geology services, exercise any judgment over the delivery of professional geology services, have employees who offer professional geology services to the public, hold themselves out as offering professional geology services, or share profits or split fees with licensed professionals.
      • A General Business Corporation may employ licensed professionals to provide in-house services. For example, General Motors may employ licensed or unlicensed geologists to provide geology services for the corporation. However, General Motors may not set up a business to provide geology services to the public.

  10. Are business entities required to be certified to provide professional geology services?

    • All business entities legally permitted to provide professional geology services in New York State are required to obtain a "Certificate of Authorization to Provide Professional Geology Services in New York State" from the State Education Department according to section 7210 of Education Law. This requirement applies to all types of business entities listed in question 9.
    • Individual licensees, who are legally permitted to practice geology in New York State, can obtain a "Certificate of Authorization" according to section 7210 of New York State Education Law, however, they are not required to do so.
    • Additional information and the Application for a Certificate of Authorization to Provide Professional Geology Services in New York State is available on this site or can be obtained by contacting the Office of Professions, Professional Corporations Unit at 518-474-3817 ext. 400; Fax 518-473-5515; e-mail opcorp@nysed.gov.

  11. Is a business entity that provides more than one of the following services: professional engineering, professional geology, or land surveying required to obtain multiple Certificates of Authorization?

    Answer: Yes - business entities, as listed in question 9, that are legally permitted to provide multiple professional services (meaning professional services in multiple and different licensed professions) in New York State are required to obtain Certificates of Authorization for each professional service offered by the firm. For more information contact the Office of Professions, Professional Corporations Unit at 518-474-3817 Ext. 400; Fax 518-473-5515; e-mail opcorp@nysed.gov.

  12. Can a general business corporation that is authorized to practice geology in another state, do so in New York?

    Answer: No entity or individual except those described in the preceding (including a general business corporation that may be authorized under the laws of another state to practice there) may practice professional geology in New York State.

  13. Can a person who is licensed in New York and is an officer or employee of an out-of-state business corporation that provides professional geology services in the other state provide geology services in New York, as an officer or employee of that company?

    Answer: No. Not as an employee or officer of that company. A person who is licensed (or otherwise authorized) to practice in New York State and is an officer or employee of a general business corporation operating in New York State or in a state other than New York cannot provide professional geology services in New York as an officer or employee of that firm, but can do so as an individual. In other words, a contract with a New York client must be between the individual licensee and the client and not the corporation employer and the client.

  14. Can an entity not authorized to provide professional geology services in New York, such as a general contractor, subcontract with a licensed professional geologist in order to provide such services?

    Answer: No. An entity not authorized to provide professional geology services, such as a general contractor, cannot subcontract with a licensed professional geologist in order to provide professional services to a third party client. The basis for professional regulation is that the service of the professional must be provided directly from the professional to the client without any unlicensed third party between the client and the professional. This unlicensed third party may have other interests (such as financial) that could jeopardize the level and/or quality of the professional service received by the client.

  15. What are the consequences of someone engaging in unlicensed or unauthorized practice?

    Answer: The laws of the State are clear in regard to unauthorized practice. Section 6512.1 of the Education Law makes it a class E felony for anyone not authorized to practice who practices or offers to practice or holds themselves out as being able to practice professional geology. Section 6509 of the Education Law defines professional misconduct as, among other things, permitting, aiding or abetting an unlicensed person to perform activities requiring a license; and, section 6512.2 of the Education Law makes it a class E felony for anyone, including a public official, to knowingly aid or abet three or more unlicensed persons to practice a profession requiring a license.

  16. What is 'design delegation'?

    Answer: The New York State Board of Regents adopted a revision to section 29.3(b) in its rules on unprofessional conduct for the design professions. This revision, which became effective June 14, 1996, describes activities of licensed professionals which will not be considered to be unprofessional conduct. In order to assist design professionals to better understand its meaning and applicability, the following "plain language" interpretation of the revision has been prepared.

    • It is not unprofessional conduct for a licensed professional to delegate or assign the performance of a professional service through an unlicensed third party, such as a contractor or subcontractor, to another licensee.
    • It is not unprofessional conduct for the licensee to whom the work is delegated to accept and perform such work.
    • Under these circumstances, the unlicensed third party would not be considered to be engaging in illegal practice.
    • The work that can be delegated must be limited to work that is "ancillary" to the main project components.
    • The licensee delegating the work must specify all of the design parameters that the design must meet.
    • The licensee who has delegated the design function, upon receiving the design, must review and approve the design as meeting the design parameters that were specified and to ensure that the designed element can be integrated into the overall project.
    • A licensee is always responsible for his or her work even if such work has been endorsed or accepted by another licensee.
Last Updated: September 21, 2017