Guidelines for Professional Engineering Practice in New York State
Law, rules and regulations, not Guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and violating them constitutes professional misconduct. Not adhering to this Guideline may be interpreted as professional misconduct only if the conduct also violates pertinent law, rules and regulations, some citations of which are listed at the end of this Guideline.
Guideline 2: Permissible Forms of Practice
According to Section 7202 of the New York State Education Law, “Only a person licensed or otherwise authorized under this article shall practice engineering or use the title ‘professional engineer’.” A “person licensed” is an individual that has qualified by education, experience and examination and has been issued a New York State professional engineering license by the State Education Department. Persons “otherwise authorized” may include an individual person 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, within New York State. Limited permits shall only be issued to individual persons and not to business entities of nay kind.
Section 7210 of the New York State Education Law requires that all business entities (not individual licensees) legally permitted to provide professional engineering services in New York State obtain a “Certificate of Authorization” from the State Education Department. The law also allows, but does not require, licensed individuals who are legally permitted to provide professional engineering services in New York State as sole proprietors to obtain a “Certificate of Authorization”.
Professional engineering services may be provided by a professional service corporation (PSC) authorized under Article 15 or 15-A of the New York State Business Corporation Law. PSCs authorized under Article 15 (domestic) are special corporations in which each of the shareholders, officers and directors must be licensed by New York State. For PSCs authorized under Article 15-A (foreign PSCs) only the individual actually providing the professional service must be licensed in New York State although all of the officers, directors and shareholders must be licensed in some jurisdiction. Professional limited liability companies and foreign professional limited liability companies may also provide professional engineering services if and only if all members are licensed in New York State. Finally, such services may also be provided by professional partnerships, registered limited liability partnerships and foreign registered limited liability partnerships provided that all partners are licensed in New York State.
There is one last special class of corporations that may legally provide professional engineering services in New York State. These are general business corporations that on April 15, 1935, and continuously thereafter, have lawfully engaged in the practice of professional engineering in New York State and whose chief executive officer is a licensed professional engineer under the laws of the State of New York (often referred to as “grandfathered” corporations). These corporations must remain in full compliance of Education Law; section 7209(6.) or risk losing their ability to offer professional engineering services.
In summary, the following business entities may provide professional engineering services in the State of New York with a “Certificate of Authorization”.
- sole proprietorships (Certificate of Authorization is optional)
- domestic and foreign professional service corporations
- domestic and foreign professional service limited liability companies
- professional partnerships
- registered limited liability partnerships
- foreign registered limited liability partnerships
- “grandfathered” general business corporations under section 7209
No other entity or individual except those described in the preceding may practice professional engineering in New York State. In particular, the fact that a general business corporation may be authorized under the laws of another state to practice there does not qualify the entity to practice professional engineering services in New York State. It is also important to note that 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 engineering services in New York as an officer or employee of that firm. Lastly, in cases where an entity is not authorized to provide professional engineering services, such as a general contractor, that entity can not subcontract with, or employ, a licensed professional engineer in order to provide engineering services to a third party client. A licensed professional engineer may not subcontract with an entity not authorized to provide engineering services, for example a general contractor for the purposes of providing professional engineering services.
Any professional engineering services performed for a project or site located in New York, whether for a New York client or an out-of-state client, are subject to the laws of this State and must be performed by a person licensed and registered or otherwise authorized to practice in New York State.
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 that practices or offers to practice or holds themselves out as being able to practice professional engineering. Section 6509 defines professional misconduct as, among other things, permitting, aiding or abetting an unlicensed person to perform activities requiring a license, and, section 6512(2.) 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.
The Offering of Multiple Design Services
Multiple professional design services (disciplines) may be practiced by a Professional Service Corporation (PC), Professional Service Limited Liability Company (PLLC), or Registered Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). These are limited to the design professions licensed pursuant to Article 145, 147 and 148 (engineering, land surveying, architecture, and landscape architecture).
- PC – A Domestic Professional Service Corporation may provide
multiple services in the design professions provided that there
is a shareholder, director, or officer licensed and currently
registered to practice each of the professions which the corporation
is being organized to practice. In the case of a Foreign Professional
Service Corporation that provides multiple services in the design
professions, there must be a shareholder, director, or officer
licensed and currently registered to practice each of the professions
which the corporation is being organized to practice in New York
State and the original jurisdiction.
- PLLC – A Professional Service Limited Liability Company may
provide multiple services in the design professions provided
there is a manager/owner licensed in New York State to practice
every professional service offered by the PLLC. In the case
of foreign PLLC offering services in multiple design professions,
each manager/owner must be licensed to practice said profession
in New York State and the original jurisdiction.
- LLP – A Registered Limited Liability Partnership may provide multiple services in the design professions provided that there is a partner licensed in New York State to practice every professional service offered by the LLP. In the case of a Foreign LLP offering services in multiple design professions, each partner must be licensed to practice said profession in New York State and the original jurisdiction.
Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
- Education Law, section 6509 – “unprofessional conduct”
- Education Law, section 6512 – “unauthorized practice of a crime”
- Education Law, section 7201 – “definition of practice of engineering”
- Education Law, section 7202 – “practice of engineering and use of title “professional engineer”
- Education Law, section 7209 – “special provisions”
- Education Law, section 7210 – “certificates of authorization”
- Regents Rules, part 29.1 – “general provisions”
- Regents Rules, part 29.3 – “general provisions for design professions”
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